Memories from Mary

1939 chevrolet pickupMost folks may not realize it but that is a picture of me (a loooong time ago) in the 2017 Shelburne Show flyer, in front of my Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet, which made me think of some of his other vehicles.

He plowed our dirt road with an old Army truck (also pictured in the flyer) and usually had me and our current dog with him. He had a Dodge coupe, a couple of sedans (Chevrolets, of course), and a Willys pickup truck, which he drove over, around, and through everything.

Dad liked to accumulate vintage cars, not to restore or show, but to drive for fun. He had a ’35 Packard limousine which was given to him in lieu of rent by a neer-do-well hippy type kid from down country. He discovered a ’28 “barn find” Dodge Brothers coupe that was a real “cream puff”, from a lady who could no longer drive. We now have that ’28 Dodge. When we brought it home to Vermont (from New Hampshire), we discovered all of the old registration paperwork in the trunk, indicating it had been registered in my name all that time, but I have never driven it. As I may have pointed out before, driving an old car as a teenager in the 1950`s, no way!

Our son now has the Packard in his garage and hopes to find time to work on it at some point. With his job and raising a family, it won’t happen right away. Wendell’s Dad wasn’t particularly mechanically minded, but he was impressed by the tandem bicycle Wendell and his friend constructed – and rode. Wendell’s Mom also had a Model T she drove in the teens and ’20s.

barn cat
This is a picture of the “practice”, not on Mary’s family farm.

And now back to my Dad – he had to milk our cows by late afternoon, by hand, offering squirts of milk to the barn cats. The milk was put into milk cans to be picked up the next day, including the morning milk. And now up to the present. All of the above (except for the cow milking) explains our interest in old cars. Currently, a 1948 Indian motorcycle is being worked on by Wendell in our garage. We’ll see where that goes!

Spring is supposed to be here, but until only recently it has felt like it. The snow we never shoveled has melted so we can see the leaves we never raked. I found one crocus in bloom and the daffodils are coming up, so there is hope. This is Vermont, however, so any kind of weather could happen! And probably will!!!

Ramblings from an Aging Mind

Wow, survived the holidays with no more cracked ribs or crushed toes. This included cookie day with our daughter, our friend and her daughter, family get-togethers; didn’t have to wrap presents as a friend likes to do that?? We got the tree set up with the lights on so that the grandchildren could decorate it on Christmas Eve. After that three generations watched the Muppet movie.

We did lack snow, but pretty sure we will be getting some very soon – this is Vermont. For now, it serves to remind me that I have not raked the leaves yet. Oh well, they will still be there in the spring! The holidays being behind us now means thinking about getting the garden ready for planting (I will remember to plant Brussel sprouts this year), cleaning out the asparagus bed and being able to hang out washing again. Oh, and lawn mowing, but Wendell and the rider mower do that these days. I kind of miss pushing around the old mower, but there will be flower beds to clear of fallen tree limbs and rose bushes to trim, so no lack of projects.

I have been feeding two stray cats, but cannot get them to let me touch them. I would take them to the Hu-mane Society if I could catch them because our cat would not welcome them. You may notice that I said “our cat”, as his previous owner still cannot have him in his new place, but then, without him, who would sleep on my bed at night! So, I guess it all works out. Anyway, hope everyone’s holidays were fine and we wish all a very Happy New Year!!!!

Hello 2016!

First, wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! We had our Colorado daughter and grandson here for Christmas, which was a good all-family-together time, including my brother Scott and wife. Wendell and I had actually gotten the bathroom wallpapered and a new shower curtain installed a couple of days before their arrival. I had “sort of” cleaned the house – wouldn’t want them to be too shocked, if squeaky clean! I didn’t get a chance to make wreaths this year, another first, but there’s always next year I suppose. We did get the Christmas tree up three (!) days early and put the lights on it. The rest was up to our guests, who did a fine job. We undecorated the tree and got it outside before it started shedding needles. It now has another life as a bird feeder with suet hung on it.

alligator wrenchWe were at a loss for what to bring to January “Memorabilia Meet”, when it occurred to me that we had a mysterious tool on the shelf that I had picked up at an antique store a couple of years back. Maybe it was automobile related. This might be an opportunity to get some educated opinions as to what it is. Wendell took it along and put a note on it asking for ideas as to its identity and use. We got some wild stabs, but no direct hits. Well, now this is the age of Google and computer search engines, so we subsequently gave that a try. Bingo! You probably never heard of an Alligator Wrench, but that’s what it is. Looking at it you can see where the name comes from. It was used mostly by steam locomotive maintenance workers to loosen nuts and pipes. I never would have guessed.

The Stowe car show is months away, but we’ve got to be thinking now about what items we’d like to offer for sale in the souvenir booth. We’d like to Jazz up our inventory a bit. If you have any ideas as to items you think would sell well, we’d like to hear them. Contact me or Kit Wheatley if you have any suggestions. We’ve heard umbrellas, coffee cups with VAE on them, water jugs, again with VAE, cloth tote bags with VAE or Stowe Show printed on them. Any ideas would be appreciated. Again, have a great 2016!

A Nice Fall Day On The Roads

vermont fall motoring tourThe Gypson Tour on Saturday, October 3rd, was a delightful ride. Wow!

Who, besides Bob and Wendy Chase, knew all those scenic roads even existed. They did a great job of arranging such nice weather for it also. We knew it would be a bit nippy so we came in a closed car, figuring that no one would be bold enough to bring an open car. Seeing Eric Osgood bundled up in Silver Annie and Gael Boardman with his Volkswagen “Thing” put us to shame.

The directional clues were insidiously clever. I’m pretty sure nobody got them all and that’s the way it ought to be. I was the “navigator”, trying to keep us going in the right direction(s). If we met a VAE car going the other way, we would figure we were going the wrong way, turn around, and try again.

Turning around was a challenge in itself due to October Fest traffic – where’s power steering when you need it? But the scenery was beautiful, when I had a chance to look, even though that look would make me miss a clue answer. With a few wrong turns, we probably saw more scenery than was intended. Anyway we ended up at the Commodore Inn’s back parking lot and finally gave in and opened “the envelope to find out where we should have ended up ” – duh!! That’s where we were supposed to be. What a lot of clever thinking Bob and Wendy put into those clues – thank you, thank you- it was a great tour. Whoever scores the highest gets to arrange next year’s tour and will have a hard time topping this one. I’m pretty sure it won’t be us.

One More For The Road

I realize that I am late in saying this, but hope everyone had a happy Christmas and that the New Year will be a good one for all. Our Colorado daughter and her son were here for Christmas day until New Year’s day. Having our three “children” and their children, plus my brother and his wife from New Hampshire, made for a great holiday get together. My New Year’s resolution is to have our house “spit spot” for the summer’s family get together, well, dust freer, and wallpaper replaced in upstairs bathroom. The paper was one of the first things we did – wallpaper really doesn’t stay nice forever I now know. Maybe if I start tomorrow, but it is too cold for housework – smile. Our son Tom’s New Year’s resolution at his wife’s urging, is to get to work on the 1935 twelve cylinder Packard limousine he was given by my Dad. Dad had acquired it from a ne’er-do-well young fellow whose wealthy father became tired of supporting his son, told him to pick a car from his extensive collection and get out of his house. This “back to nature” type of guy ended up living in a house that my parents owned, out in the woods and with no utilities. At the end of his brief tenancy, he didn’t have money for rent, so he gave the Packard to Dad. All our kids took a shine to this impressive yacht of a car and especially enjoyed riding in it during parades. Tom especially loved it so his grandfather willed it to him. It has been with Tom in New York, then St. Albans and currently in his garage in Westford. I think, in the past, I have mentioned that the three-car garage was the selling point for their buying in Westford. There was also a house and several acres of land, but those features were irrelevant to our son. Given the current lower gas prices, it might even be feasible to drive this gas-guzzler a bit. In any event, looking at it and working on it should be a good father-son bonding experience. Wendell’s resolution is to get his 1939 Chrysler roadster finished – no surprise there! It’s the same as last year’s. Must get back to writing Christmas cards. I thought of doing New Year’s cards, but too late for them too. Maybe if I start in October this year, I’ll get them out in time, maybe. There’s always hope.

Stowe Show Musings

Once again, I marvel at the work of the dedicated people who put together our Car Show at Stowe. I am pretty sure they are already at work for next year, in fact. Despite the rain and wind on Thursday, the next three days were pleasant and sunny, a little muddy, but great by Sunday! The kitchen team this year certainly presented many, many delicious meals. Then there was the setting up for vendors, car parking, registration booth, where Gael Boardman and Serge Benoit made announcements throughout the Show. There was the car corral, crafts tent, and the information booth.

The souvenir tent was an excellent vantage point to get a valuable perspective on the show. Thanks to Tom Alag of Shelter Logic for giving us a large white tent to work from. It gave us room for displaying things for sale and room for people who needed a place to sit out of the sun. They also had one of their tents set up nearby to be raffled off to a VAE member. Non-members could qualify by signing up on the spot, which they did. We gained a substantial number of members as a result. The winner was a lady who signed up about ten minutes before the drawing. Then there was the fashion show competition (Thanks, Julie, for covering that for me). The “everywhere needed twosome”, Duane Leach and Bob Chase, who were always (mostly) smiling and al-ways helpful. If I wore a hat, it would be off to them! Also, to Chris Barbieri for his many interviews promoting the Show. Thanks to Nancy Olney for staying at the booth so that I could be with Wendell in the parade. Also to Isabelle and Clark Wright, Theresa Rayta and Anita Bean.

Our constant interaction with the public provided us with interesting comments and suggestions. Many were valuable and a few were just “off the wall.” Some didn’t care for the car on the back of the sweatshirts, unless of course it happened to be their favorite car. So since we can’t please everyone, maybe just the VAE logo or show date should be on the back! Others would like a pocket on the tee shirts, tank tops, sleeveless tees, hats, VAE decals, pencils with VAE or Stowe Show on them. Several people would like to have the option of a three-day pass, rental carts for handicapped people and, as part of the judging awards, a “teen choice award”. Another suggestion was to have a tent for Bingo if someone would like to sponsor it.

The field is now empty and shows little evidence that it just hosted the best car show in the northeast. After a little bit of a breather, I look forward to being a part of it again.

Changes

On a recent drizzly day, we were coming home from running errands and I noticed something that struck me as unusual and I pointed it out to Wendell. “Look at that. There are two little kids out playing in their yard.” There was no adult supervision. They were just playing around in their raincoats and boots doing whatever their creative little minds led them to do. Isn’t it kind of sad that something like that catches my attention because it is so unusual? Today we would expect them to be in-side in the captivity of their video games, oblivious to the weather outside.

Whatever happened to making mud pies, pushing match box cars around, swinging on a swing or from an old tire, badminton, reading un-der a tree, etc.? Then I try to remember that trends are just that, trends, and they change, hopefully for the better.

I sure hope this one happens soon! Speaking of change, we have become a working farm again with huge gardens of vegetables growing in our hayfield, pigs in the former pigpen and cows in the pasture. All this through the efforts of one man who believes in hard work being a good thing, and getting paid for it should be even better. However, he has discovered that finding young people to work even for money is not easy these days, as they like money, but not work. Two exceptions are our grandsons who are very happy to work for money – one helped plant tomatoes (there are about 500 plants!). Our Colorado grandson has bonded with the piglets, rubbing their bellies and holding them as well as feeding them. Initially, they were surprised to be paid as they were just glad to be outside with growing plants and curious, but friendly pigs. A huge benefit of letting our land be used is that we have vegetables given to us and one of the pigs will be ours – we can make our own ham, bacon and sausage again – and I suspect we will also have some beef from one of those cows. Our vegetarian daughter is trying to remember that the reason for having pigs and cows was then sending them off to be eaten is a farming fact of life. However, she will be glad to be in Colorado when that day comes.

My Dad and Cars

My husband suggested that I should devote the “Softer Side” to my Dad’s interest in old cars. I have to admit that as a teenager, I didn’t think much about cars, except as a means to get to a dance, a ballgame, or a friend’s house. In my earlier years, Dad was always busy farming (milking, making and selling butter, haying, plowing, sugaring, selling insurance, being a Selectman and banker. He was also a Grange member and a Mason. Restoring and/or working on an old car I don’t remember. Yes, he had a 1935 Packard, a 1936 and a 1937 Chevrolet, as well as that 1928 Dodge coupe I wouldn’t drive, preferring the family 1955 Chevy station wagon! I know, shame on me. Sorry, Dad, —and Wendell. Guys of my teenage years were always fixing up a “clunker” car and then driving it around town to impress the girls, and each other. Cars now seem to be more of a status symbol, not a tribute to the authentic restoration of a car. But back to my Dad. Growing up on a farm certainly builds character and gives one an appreciation for work being a good thing. (Of course, for some it means to get away from all that work as soon as possible.) We learned that when the hay was dry, it had to be raked, put into windrows, and pitched onto the hay truck to the person “treading” the hay to get as much as possible on at once. When the beans, peas, tomatoes, etc., etc., were ripe, they needed to be picked, made ready for canning or freezing right then. Cows need to be milked twice a day. Basically, my brother and I learned the valuable lesson of not putting off what needs to be done. Our reward usually was a trip to the “dairy bar” for ice cream cones or frappes (I’ve learned to call them milkshakes, but in New Hampshire, a milkshake had no ice cream in it).

Presently, I do appreciate classic cars (I know, I still have only driven the Dodge twice) and truly enjoy riding in them, plus being impressed over and over again by the patience and tenacity of classic car restorers. So, kudos to you all!

Finding a Nugget in Colorado

forney museumIn November, Wendell and I were in Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter and family. Her son and I prepared the turkey as our Martha is a vegetarian – we baked the stuffing separately, of course! We had a good visit, which included checking out cats at a local animal shelter. Their much beloved cat had recently died. But for Wendell, the big deal was a car museum in Denver he had read about in the Plymouth Bulletin, the Forney Museum. The article was about a 1932 Plymouth PB roadster and its radiator cap which had been stolen; unfortunately accessories are frequently stolen from displayed cars, the article pointed out. Wendell had shown the article to the person issuing our tickets when we reached the museum. She made a copy of it, as they had not seen it. After a thorough tour of the museum, we failed to find that car. We were about to explore a recently restored railroad train, complete with a dining car featuring white tablecloths and fancy place settings, an elaborate sleeper car and a huge steam locomotive which had been restored by the museum. Then a volunteer guide asked if we would like to hear a talk about the train car, because she was bored and things were slow. She mentioned her own cars, which were stored in a museum warehouse, five, as I recall, and that she would get the key and show us through it.

The Plymouth roadster was also there. The warehouse was filled (crammed) with vintage cars, pickups, motorcycles and an old airplane being worked on. Quite a few were owned by local people who needed a place to store their cars. We admired her cars, saw the Plymouth, and much to the joy of our grandson, Mustangs. This remarkable lady even had a drag racer and had drag raced since she was 19. She reminded us of our own VAE friend, Doris Bailey. Martha and I were almost “car’d” out, but the gift shop restored us. As we were leaving, we told our guide we would be sending Vermont maple syrup to her as she took us into the warehouse for a tour that usually required a much larger group.

I realize that this “Softer Side” is a bit car heavy, but the Forney Museum is truly an impressive and interesting place. Look out, Nancy!!!

Fond Farewell

There are, as I’ve said before, some of the nicest, kindest, interesting and unique, members of our VAE club. It seems appropriate to pay tribute to Joe Kaelin and Gene Towne whom we lost recently. I didn’t know Joe as well as I knew Gene, but always thought he had the kindest face and demeanor about him. Meeting his family at his memorial service illustrated what a great parent and grandfather he was. One of his daughters told us how Joe was always available to watch over grandchildren and she shared with us a “Joe moment”. A granddaughter was crying and carrying on when he turned to her and said, “You need to stop that noise – it is Sunday and therefore not your day to cry”, and then went back to what he was doing. She was so busy trying to figure out what had just happened that the crying ceased. Joe had such courage and always kept his subtle sense of humor, indeed, a unique gentleman.

We first met Gene when we bought his house in Milton located on what was appropriately called Swamp Road. We had to walk to the house, as the road was impassable by car, truck or tractor, a real mud bog in the spring. We bought the house anyway as it was brick and surrounded by beautiful countryside. One day in mid winter, Gene stopped by to ask what we were using for water. I answered, “the faucet” and he said, “I’ll be darned; that water pipe under the road usually is frozen by now”. Sure enough, two days later, it did freeze, so we called Gene and asked what do we do now. “Oh, you call the local “go-to” guy who will bring out his arc welder, hook it onto that wire next to the road and thaw out that pipe.” Wendell knew the wire he meant, because he had cut it off the previous sum-mer. After much poking into frozen ground with crowbars, shovels, etc., we finally located the pipe and had it thawed. This was in the 1970’s and over the years we met the entire Towne family and were made to feel part of it. Then there were the phone calls from Gene: “Wendell, want to go to an auction or sale and/or check out a car, boat, tractor, or, let’s go to Dearborn for Ford’s anniversary celebration.” “Mary, how do you make rice pudding?” “What’s that guy’s name? You know, the one that lives on the hill?” He was always sure that I needed something he happened to have (many “somethings”), and I should come over and take a look. I’m not sure that we ever saw him wearing anything but his trademark overalls, slouch hat, and suspenders, of course. We will miss Joe and Gene and feel privileged to have had them in our lives. They were true Auto Enthusiasts!