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!