Look Out, There’s a new Player in Town

I have to admit Shelburne Museum is a perfect spot for a classic car show. Although, I could have done without the cold north wind and multiple layers of clothing. On the up side, my husband’s 1954 Dodge Power Wagon (PW) was a screaming success. A consistent crowd mulled around like groupies at a rock concert. I sat quietly on a Craftsman bag chair eating my lunch, collecting snippets of conversations as PW fans converge upon my husband and I. There is nothing better than car guys talking shop: I’m doing great, how are you; this thing is awesome (eloquently stated by a 5 year old boy); did you see the pictures before I pulled it out of the weeds; and (my personal favorite) do they still do PW Rallies? I can actually answer that question, “Yes, they do!” I had one spectator tell me that I should not leave my coffee on the running board of the PW. Little does he know that I have a vested interest in the PW’s well being.

I feel badly for my almost lavender 1971 MG Midget. She was neglected by her owner (namely me); I left her sitting alone all day by the Ticonderoga without anyone present to tell her story. At the next car show I am going to give her the respect she so rightly deserves by playing disco music, dressing in 70’s attire and hosting a disco dance party.

Mother’s Day

By the time you read this, Mother’s Day will be over by at least a month. I have to tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. It is considered the third largest holiday for card exchange with, of course, Christmas being the first and Valentine’s Day second. The giant card company, Hallmark, estimates they sell 133 million cards. Mother’s Day comes in second in the gift giving holidays and it also, is the year’s most popular holiday for dining out.

First some history on this( in most cases ) revered holiday called Mother’s Day (note it is not Mothers’ Day). It was always intended to be in the singular, “it wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known-your mother- as a son or daughter.” It was brought about largely by a woman named Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) when her mother died in 1905, she was inspired to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. The idea caught on and President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation on May 9, 1914 stating Mother’s Day is “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Then what? You guessed it, in a very short time it was recognized as a gold mine for commercialism! And, it was almost immediately a big business of selling cards, candy, flowers and it disturbed Jarvis so much that she spent her life and her substantial inheritance trying to return the holiday to the reverence of a person’s mother which was her original intention. Her story and all she did to try and reform Mother’s Day until at least 1940, is extremely interesting and very courageous for a woman from 1910-1940 but unfortunately she was not able to turn the tide and she died in 1948, penniless and in the Philadelphia Sanitarium.

Now, my feelings about the day we set aside for ‘our mother’. I guess I would first say if Mother’s Day is the only day you recognize her (I hope) for her devotion to you, part of me says ‘don’t bother’. It is kind of like those that only go to church on Christmas or Easter and aren’t observant the rest of the year ‘don’t bother’! But wait!! I am also the ‘queen of eternal hope’. Maybe, just maybe, if you do it once a year, maybe something will prick that heart of yours and it may become something you start doing twice or three times – which if you aren’t careful, it may just become part of your routine and you one day say ‘ wow, I love this’. (Believe me your mother and God will love it, too!) I have to admit I loved the flowers I received but was a bit disappointed when I read in the paper among the ads for where to eat and what to buy or what to do with your mother on ‘her day’, an ad to play a free round of golf with your mother (this was at the Club where my son is the Pro) I didn’t get a call with a tee time! (I’m pondering that one!) I’ll finish by saying a huge thank you to all you mothers that serve us on Mother’s Day in so many ways. It may be in a restaurant, store, gas station, hospital or a hundred other places we may need to be on this day and all year.

One more bit of information, last year the average spent was $168.94/per mother, this year $162.94 – wonder where I fell short! Better watch it, Father’s Day is traditionally a “fewer gift giving day” but that could change!

It’s All About the Mud

mud season vintage carDisclosure: “The views expressed in this article belong solely to the writer and do not reflect the VAES’ idea of a good time”.

Mud season is frustrating for non-mud enthusiasts, most classic car owners and livestock caretakers alike. If Vermont were to name a state season, mud season would be a viable candidate.

Vermont’s fifth season is undeterminably long, it disappears only to reappear spontaneously, striking without notice. June tent weddings, Fourth of July and the Stowe Car Show have all fallen victim to torrential rain and mud. I like car shows best when the solar deity, Ra, chooses to be in attendance.

vermont road mud season
“Muddy road after thaw, near Stowe, Vermont” – from the Library of Congress – April, 1940

Some folks are drawn to mud like a moth to a flame, adding mud to sporting events to enhance player and viewer enjoyment. Mud wrestling, mud volley ball, mud football, and let’s not forget my personal favorite – mud bogging caravan style, entice a cult following. I have personally experienced mud bogging due to a kind hearted gentleman who saved my husband and I a coveted spot in the back of his 1952 Dodge Power Wagon. His vehicle was meticulously restored and CLEAN which meant its occupants were not motored through a 30′ by 60′ foot pit of mud. This pit was truly impressive, indiscriminately swallowing up jeeps, miscellaneous retired military vehicles, men – women – children- dogs, and beer coolers. Needless to say my husband now attends this rally alone.

On the brighter side, mud season is the catalyst for change. It ceremoniously welcomes in the running of the sap, spring flowers and the highly coveted dog days of summer.

Old vs. New

old vs new carsFrom time to time some of my friends and I discuss young people and talk about things that they will never have or never do or just what is different from our generation to theirs’. I am reminded that that is what ‘old’ people do and have done for centuries. I guess I would use the word, ‘matured’ rather than old.

I will start with the ‘book’. There is something about reading a book and having the actual book in your hands. I love to read and have at least one book going all the time. I also have a ‘Nook’ tablet and have several books on that which I have read but it just isn’t quite the same. I can’t really tell you why, it just isn’t. My guess is there are children born today that will never read a book, in book form. They will read books from a Nook, IPad, PC and some will even go to the library and find that all the material has been converted to digital.

Map reading is becoming a lost art also. With the advent of GPS systems, you can throw your maps away. I remember when you traveled you looked forward to collecting maps and all gas stations gave them away. I know some of you collect maps but not for navigation anymore. I guess it is kind of like the compass; there aren’t a lot of people that would know how to use it if they had one. Most cars come with GPS as standard equipment now and if not, your cell phone will have one.

Email has become the letter/note/thank you that used to come in the mail. This type of communication was looked forward to and still is for me. I love getting a nice let-ter/note in the mail. Some people blame the price of stamps, their time (or lack of), but most just never learned to write a letter. I’ll have to ask my grandchildren if let-ter writing is still taught in schools. I will say that I do check my emails and am glad to have one or two in my ‘inbox’ but again, it’s not the same as holding a letter that someone took the time to write and put a ‘forever’ stamp on and mailed and when it was received I knew that it was meant for me and not everyone in your ‘contact’ list.

I could go on and on about the changes in the world from generation to generation. It comes down to, if you never had it – how can you miss it. I’m sure that those of us who never had to walk in the dark at 20 degrees below zero to the outhouse- have ever missed it! And realize that those who traveled West in a covered wagon, never missed the GPS but I bet if given the chance – would have loved it!

This younger generation will not miss some of the things that I have held ‘near and dear’ but I will continue to miss it for them.

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.

Goodbye to one of my Heroes

We have recently said goodbye to one of my heroes in the “car world”, Tom Magliozzi. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t know who this is but if you don’t, he is the “Click” or the “Clack” (I don’t believe it was ever decided which was which) of the Tappet Brothers from NPR’s “Car Talk”. He and his brother Ray could turn any car, situation or person into something to laugh at, nothing and no one spared. Believe me sometimes Tom’s laugh, just listening to it and not even hearing what had been said would make me break into a huge laugh. It must be said that one of the chief things he laughed at was himself and of course, his brother. I don’t know but think that antique cars weren’t the passion for him as they are to several people I know but he seemed to love cars in general, different makes which there were a few he seemed to like better than others. Have to say that he did beat on a certain make of cars and on his ex and present wife. (I don’t know if he had an ex or not). There are very few things that you come away feeling good every time but “Car Talk” was certainly one of the things that did it for me. When VPR stops airing the reruns and quiets Tom’s laugh forever, will be a sad day for all of us who love to laugh. The lesson I take from him is laugh as often as possible and realize most things shouldn’t be taken so seriously and in the ‘scheme of things’ most things deserve a good old fashion belly laugh. RIP dear friend.

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.

What Can I Say…

I am sure by now you are all tired of me sharing stories about our household’s automotive trials and tribulations. Which leaves me in a dilemma, “What should I write about for this issue of Wheel Tracks?” I dig deep for inspiration, but this ballroom dancing lady is struggling. Let’s see… I have been to one car show all summer; the catalyst for this was a visit from my father.

That old saying that women end up marrying men just like their fathers is all too true in my case. My father is a self-confessed high performance street car enthusiast (junkie), and the mastermind behind a line of race electrical products (Auto-Rod Controls). He grew up during American Graffiti, and remembers a time when a half a dozen full blown street races occurred nightly. I do not believe this happens much anymore, except for maybe LA (according to the motion picture industry).

I interviewed my father and had him list his most memorable cars: a 1958 something or another, 1940 Ford Coupe, 1962 Ford 406, 1969 Ford 428 Super Cobra Jet, 1970 429 Torino Cobra he trad-ed in for a 1970 Honda motorcycle and last but not least, a 1970 Ford Pinto he stripped down into a race car lovingly known as PERNICIOUS.

I have vivid memories of this car. I was frequently called into the garage to maneuver my small hands into tight places to hold bolts and wrenches in place. I will never forget the occasional starting of the engine; mind numbingly loud, our whole house shook, as did the neighborhood.

The rebuild took 4 years in total. Eventually, he and his race car made it to the speedway in Epping, NH. He raced the quarter mile; best time – 9.65 seconds; maximum speed – 138 miles per hour. I never got to see him race but I wish I had. That would be an image worth holding on to.

Ask for Help?

My mother raised four children in a single parent home and to my knowledge, never asked for help. She raised our food, canned and froze everything for the winter, baked bread (you can imagine 4 children when they were given the “treat” of Wonder Bread) of course now realize what a “treat” we were having every day with her homemade bread, tapped 4 maples and boiled the sap on the stove, she made stuffed toys, clothes and she could cut anything that needed to be cut with a big meat saw. I didn’t mention that she was a full time secretary in a department store at this time. We lived in a small town in southern Vermont and for 13 years of my life, we lived in a house on my grandparents’ farm. Being from a small town and living on the farm was a definite help to both my mother and us but again at the time we probably weren’t convinced of it. With saying all this, the outcome was 4 adults growing up and realizing that we had to take care of ourselves and we weren’t to run for help every time things got rough, though I think sometimes she went too far with the lesson. All my siblings and me are always ready to help but go to great lengths not to ask for help.

This brings me to this summer when Gary and I went on a 7000 mile trip to Montana to pick up 2 of our grandchildren and bring them to Vermont. On our 10 day trip from Montana, we went to Iowa (car auction with Vin Cassidy), visited every place President Lincoln lived except Washington, to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky and to the largest insane asylum in the world (late 19th century). Arriving home, we picked up our other 2 grandchildren in Waterbury and headed for camp. In all we entertained the children for about 2 weeks when their parents came for 10 days and then took them home. Have to admit mixed with sadness of seeing them go was a bit of glad-ness at seeing them go! Gary and I agree we have never been so tired in our lives (that we can remember). It wasn’t that hard raising our 2 boys! Guess I forget that we were about 40 years younger!

Now “the rest of the story” and the point of my rambling. Last month I received an email from Gary Fiske telling me that it was my turn to write for Wheel Tracks (thank you for reminding me, Gary, I would never remember on my own) also saying that if I wasn’t up to it that maybe Mary Noble would trade months. Though it went against the grain to ask, I did. Mary graciously agreed to write the arti-cle in my place and did a fine job of it! She helped me out, for which I will forever be grateful, while entertaining her grandchildren, gardening (on a scale that would put the Green Giant to shame) and raising pigs. Lesson: Always go to a busy person if you need help. I have to tell you it really didn’t hurt at all asking for help but please, don’t turn and run when you see me coming because I’m probably not looking for help.

Postscript: I wrote my article before the Stowe Car Show and want to tell you about a couple of things that happened there. The first was Sunday morning about 7 AM when I pulled into the entrance for “Antique Cars only” and two gentlemen came to my window to ask what I was up to. I explained that I needed to drop off our young friend, Ryan and meet up with Gary for a few words and I assured them I would come out this entrance to prove I wasn’t sneaking in. They looked a bit skeptical but helped me out by letting me in (I did go out that way and thanked them).

Next, I had another favor to ask (imagine needing ‘help’ twice in less than an hour!) well, Lloyd Harvey stepped up to the plate and helped me out. Thank you Lloyd (and Steve for looking at Lloyd ‘like help the woman’) I think I see a pattern forming so if you see me coming – maybe you should RUN!

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.