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The Value in Becoming a Member of VAE

Gael Boardman [ September 2006 ]

Let’s see. Should I join an old car club: ____YES or ___NO?

This may not have been a pressing question for you and you may or may not have done so. I did, in 1954 and I’m glad I did. Let me tell you why.

First, we should assume that you have a pretty strong old car interest. (I can’t imagine how any reasonable person wouldn’t but that may be the part of what my 50-plus years with the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts has done to me).

At 16 years of age I was probably the auto nerd of my high school. My interest wasn’t speed or noise, it was age. The day that Jimmy Davis sold his Model “T” for scrap, (I viewed it in the junk yard but it was painted barn red, probably with the barn broom and I decided against any resurrection attempt), I then had the oldest car in the school.

It was a ‘27 Chevy Superior Landau Brougham; a pretty nice original car. I also had a ‘32 Chevy, most of a ‘28 Chevy and a ‘29 Viking out of parental sight in charitable garage space around town. Too many cars, too little money resources, not enough knowledge and encouragement, no parts sources, and no general support group to network with.

I proudly took my Superior Chevy to a summertime parade in town that first “licensed” year… and my life changed. I met two nice older guys that admired my little Chevrolet and offered to sponsor my membership in an “old car club”. The dues were cheap; they had monthly meetings and the occasional newsletter. They accepted me as a true enthusiast (who else had a ‘29 Viking?) and really encouraged me. Now
weekends weren’t times to get into teenage trouble, they were for road trips to distant, formerly unknown junk yards. Better yet, maybe helping somebody with a new barn find. Often just a drive around giving you a chance to drive somebody else’s car. My first experience with a full-fledged Rolls Royce came that way. ‘Never would have happened without the “old car club”.

I could go on and on telling you about what I learned and enjoyed from our monthly meetings. The peers here were a bottomless source of history, technical stuff, places to find what you thought you needed, entertainment, support and fun. There were members into period music, movies and prominent people. I learned more history here than back in my high school classroom.

The reason to share this with you is two-fold. First, I hope that my enthusiasm comes through and might encourage your membership in our Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts, Inc. or a local club or chapter of a national club. Good.

Second, we need your help in securing the future for our auto interests and our auto clubs. Statistically, club membership is aging. We are not doing for the younger folks what the VAE did for me. Part of this is our fault as maybe we have not shared enough with younger people.
Maybe we assumed that they weren’t interested. Let any kid drive a Model T and chances are they would get interested… but we haven’t done enough of that kind of thing.

If you have made it this far and you are a younger person… we’d like to share with you. Approach members at the show and mention an interest. Ask questions! We love to talk about our cars. Want to ride or maybe try driving an old car? Speak up! If you are a little older - same deal. If you are part of a multi-generation family, why not sign-up older and younger members.

Oh, by the way, this isn’t just a “guy” thing either. The VAE has many lady members including Stowe Show workers, a senior Vice President (soon to be president), our newsletter editor, the Shelburne Car Show chairpersons, Vintage Fashion Show coordinator, etc.

The whole family can have a great time sharing the history and fun with our hobby and we urge you to try it. Many members start with no car and no real specific interest, and find both over time, through VAE events.

Let’s go back to the top of the page. Check the “YES” box and sign-up today. We’re expecting you at our next event.

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