The Softer Side
A Column Shared and Written by Mary Noble & Nancy Olney
“Appreciation Day” - by Nancy Olney
What made me think of writing on this subject was a headline on Facebook that asked, “How many women say thank you to a person who has held a door opened for you?”
My answer would have been, I hope at least 99.9% do but alas, that isn’t the case. I think I have touched on this before but here I go again. So much of our lives have a lot of people ‘behind the scenes’ making things happen for us. Most of us do not eat, drink, read, clothe ourselves with any direct effort on our part, someone or some ones do it for us. Yes, we work to get money and then depend that stores will be there for what we need or want without a thought to others who have put hours into making, growing, transporting, unloading and setting it up in places for us to see and buy.
This is true with so much of our lives, the newspaper deliverer, the library, the car wash, the bank, the movie theater and the list could go on and on. There is someone behind the scenes in everything that hopefully makes our lives easier and in many cases more fun. I also am sure that you, the readers, fit into that chain at some point.
This brings me to the VAE, VAAS or 501-c3. I haven’t gotten just what we are straight yet but what I would like to say is a big THANK YOU to those who understood and spent many an hour getting the paperwork needed to accomplish such. What I do know is that working with government (State or Federal) can be a daunting task and so appreciate those who took this on and worked until all the I’s dotted and t’s crossed.
Next, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Gary (Fiske) who spends his time (a lot more than he would admit to) putting together our organization’s monthly newsletter. And to all those who contribute to it, with articles, ads, jokes and also to the proof reader, Edi. Thank you all for the work with the result being a top notch publication.
Can’t write about appreciation without mentioning Bob (Chase) and Duane (Leach) and their work and dedication to the Stowe Show. I know a lot of you put in endless hours helping under their leadership, THANK YOU ALL!
One person who has held an important position in the VAE and has done an outstanding job for years is Dick Wheatley. I am sure I am speaking for us all, THANK YOU for all your years of service. Certain jobs require someone with certain knowledge, integrity and trustworthiness and you cer-tainly meet and exceeded those requirements of the job. We can’t THANK YOU enough.
I am sitting here with the VAE 2015 ROSTER and realize there are many who do a lot in many ways. I purposely didn’t mention all the names or positions that I could have but thought if I tried to I would leave someone out and that wouldn’t be and isn’t my intention. You are all very important to making the VAE what it is today and hope-fully with your help will it only get better in the years to come and we will be able to hand this over to those who come after us and they can build on the excellent work done by you all. THANK YOU ALL and keep up the good work.
“My first Article for Wheel Tracks” - by Judy Boardman
I’ve been giving this, my first article for Wheel Tracks, some thought in recent weeks and with that a lot of reminiscing.
It all starts with my first encounter with my husband Gael and his 1937 Packard many, many years ago. Then Peveril Peake enters the picture with his 1956 VW Bug. I logged more than a few miles in the back seat of that car, often wrapped in a blanket. Fortunately, Pevie always had to stop for coffee and a meal or two. I had no idea where we were going or what we were looking for in many of those rides. One trip took us to upstate New York to visit John Hawkinson. I do remember a delicious German meal we had on the way. We might have been in a Hupmobile that time.
Then there was the firetruck that Gael and Mahlon Teachout bought in St Albans. We hadn’t been married more than a few weeks and Gael was always disappearing to some shop to work on this project with Mahlon. I don’t remember that sitting so well with me. But in the end, when the firetruck became a speedster, it was fun to see and ride in, or on.
I do remember Mahlon and I taking it to Stowe for a car meet one year, 1961. Gael had to work and met us there later. I watched the chain drive something and just hoped the chain wouldn't break and decapitate us.
Then there was the 1927 Chevrolet(named Edward) which was actually easy and fun to drive. I don’t think it was legally registered when I stalled it on a hill at a red light in St Albans. I hadn’t been driving too long. A policeman came to my assistance and saved me. That could be another article, driving cars that weren’t registered or inspected and how easy the inspection stickers were to remove and put on another car. License plates were duck soup. Actually, I think our kids could add some stories of their own along these lines.
I will never forget seeing Steve Dana driving down our road in his Kissel and his dog sitting on the seat next to him. What a sight. Another article might be about the Volkswagons that we drove over the years, including the Thing that seems to be back in our barn. Maybe I’ll even get to drive it next summer, if the shifting gets easier. The top needs to be replaced, but the family drove it one summer without a top, rain or shine. We did get some funny looks.
Oh my, the more I think about the stuff we drove, the more stories I have. And, I don’t think it’s over yet.
Thanks, Gael (and Pev, Maholn and Steve).
“Hello 2016” - by Mary Noble
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.
We 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!
“Goodby 2015” - by Nancy Olney
If you are reading this, then Christmas is over and thoughts of putting this season away and what 2016 will bring are on your mind. Did I get what I wanted for Christmas? First, I don’t know because I wrote this 2 weeks before Christmas and second, I really didn’t ask for anything special but I’m sure I got something. We always say, ‘don’t get me anything’ but somehow can’t seem to honor the request. Just doesn’t seem right not to open something, no matter how small or silly. One of my favorites has always been dried pineapple, so one year I went to the natural food store and bought enough of it to fill my stocking! Probably at least 10 bags and maybe more, we all got a good laugh out of it, so it was sooo worth it! I forgot to tell you that some years Santa has been too busy to fill my stocking so I do it myself, which really isn’t so bad as I get exactly what I want and like and not what Santa is sure I’ll enjoy!
I think Christmas used to be better, I mean…. more fun and certainly more anticipated. Oh sure, I know what you are all saying, ‘you can tell Nancy is getting old, she is talking about the “good old days” – all true! When I say better, I know being young is certainly a big part of it all but Christmas in the years before we had all that we needed or wanted, it made (in my opinion) the whole season something to really enjoy. This was a time to get what you needed, socks, pjs, new boots, coat and in our house, a new game for the whole family. Not to say we didn’t get something we wanted, we did, but not to the fever pitch of today!
I have received, over the years, the typical, the unusual, useful, not so useful, what someone else wants, and the practical – like a snow shovel from my father-in-law – have to say never used the damn thing! Of course, telling him it was exactly the perfect gift! Don’t you just hate the way people gift? Kitchen stuff to the merry housewife and manly stuff to the man of the house, with the exception of my shovel, of course, but I think that was on sale and my 2 sisters-in-law got one too!!
The last few years I have tried to convince the gift givers to give only edible things. It is not that I don’t appreciate the things but have long ago run out of places to put them.
“Grandmother’s Button Box” - by Nancy Willett (2003)
It’s late March and the weather hasn't been very conducive to bringing out the spring bonnet, so I spent one Sunday sorting out some closets. One of the things that I had to move was my sewing box. On top of that box sat an old friend….my grandmother’s button box, in an old fruitcake tin. Over the years the box has changed from being worn out from use, and the contents have grown somewhat. Some of the buttons are still on their original cards when they were purchased years ago, but many are recycled from past articles of clothing.
My fondest memory of this box is it being given to me, to look at as a very small child, one cold winter day when Mom had errands and she left me with Gram. In those days the old farmhouse kitchen was heated with a wood stove, which has a wonderful spot just big enough for my little chair behind the stove.
I would sit for hours looking at all the wonderful colored buttons in that box, many of them being handed down from my great-grandmother. My grandmother could tell which garment most of the buttons were from. We had many discussions about the clothing and the person who wore that particular fashion with what button. Most of the time there were wonderful stories of balls and special dances. My family may have been from the country but they were quite the social butterflies, at times attending many functions in and around Franklin County. I can remember watching my grandmother sitting at the sewing machine, creating beautiful dresses and outfits for my mother, her sister and myself. Gram was an accomplished seamstress, and had even taken a tailoring course in Boston at some point in her busy life. We never lacked play clothes, day dresses and evening wear when the occasion called for it.
The button box was never very far away, and sometimes I had the dubious honor of picking those special buttons. When Gram’s household was broken up, the button box was one of the things that I requested for myself. I’ve kept it all these years, using the buttons for my daughters when they were growing up. I don’t sew much these days, so the box has been kept in the closet.
I suppose button collectors would have a hay day with the buttons in the box, many of them dating to the early 1900s, but I find the memories too great, and I hope to pass the box on to one of my daughters or possibly a granddaughter. Not many people take the time to remove buttons from an old shirt or dresses theses days, but I can tell you, they are missing out on memories of their own.
“A Nice Fall Day On The Roads” - by Mary Noble
The 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.
“Look Out, There's a new Player in Town” - by Christine Stone
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 con-versations 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 Nancy Olney
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” - by Christine Stone
Disclosure: "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.
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.
Picture on the right is from the Library of Congress. Taken in April, 1940 and captioned “Muddy road after thaw, near Stowe, Vermont”
Old vs New - by Nancy Olney
From 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 - by Mary Noble
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 es-pecially 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 expe-rience.
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.
Throwing Down a Challenge - by Christine Stone
With the new year quickly approaching, I want to throw down a challenge to all members and spouses to introduce a younger person to something of value from your past. Possibly, an old movie, the 1st car you drove, a long forgotten dance or anything that is not currently deemed popular by the masses.
A number of years ago, I was standing at a counter waiting for a young lady to take my sandwich order. The news was on; reporting on the life and passing of Elizabeth Taylor. I commented that this was truly a loss. The young lady proceeded to tell me that she had never seen Taylor in her youth or seen her in a movie. I told her that she was only one of the most iconic women in the motion picture industry. How can you go through life without seeing National Velvet or Lassie Come Home filmed in 1943.
I have an eleven year old daughter who I continually expose to the best classic Americana has to offer. In our home Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, classic cars, chrome bumpers, big bands, black & white movies and the waltz are not a thing of the past but an every day staple.
Goodbye to one of my Heroes - by Nancy Olney
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 - by Mary Noble
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... - by Christine Stone
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 remem-bers 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 start-ing 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? - by Nancy Olney
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 - by Mary Noble
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" - by Mary Noble
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!
"Two Ladies & A Gent!" - by Christine Stone
As you may be aware, my husband won the prestigious 2013 Presidents Restoration Award for his 1971 MG Midget. You may have read the article and saw the project pictures published in a previous issue of Wheel Tracks. I have decided to share the untold story; what you do not know, the details that my husband does not share.
My husband has been tinkering with cars, for as long as I have known him. This was the first time I took an active part in one of his projects. I was drafted at the start of the reassembly phase. How hard could this be, only time would tell?
He quickly put me to work cleaning, scouring, painting and polishing parts. I quickly discovered that steel wool and bare finger tips were not a good combination. Note to self: wear gardening gloves when doing this type of work.
One afternoon, I am busy working in my home office, my husband’s out working in the garage. I hear something that sounds like, possible domestic abuse? Yelling, cursing, more yelling, more cursing; I go outside to investigate when it hits me. It’s not my neighbors, but my husband and his British lady having a disagreement. I went into the garage and told him to simmer it down; someone just might call the police. There is no doubt that this car will be the death of my husband!
Our next task was testing the back-up light switch. It was not working and we did not have a wiring diagram. After hours of unproductive painful tinkering, I suggest using the internet to see if anyone else has had this problem. He looks skeptical, I get a couple of key words out of him, and I am off. Twenty minutes later, I am back with a list of potential faulty parts and directions. The internet is our new best friend! He sends me off frequently to do his research: replacing the head light switch, downloading a wiring diagram, how to install the window door weather strip clips, and installation of the side door glass windows. It was all there, imagine that!
There were moments when I was not sure that the three of us would make it, but we did and we are all a little better off for it.
I have a new found appreciation for the car restoration process; My husband thinks me clever and worthy of a wrench; and the MG Midget is enjoying her new face lift.
We look forward to seeing you on the open road, hopefully not attached to a tow strap. I have more stories, please ask and I will be happy to share.
Signing off from the Softer Side, Christine Stone
"Finding a Nugget in Colorado" - by Mary Noble
In 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!!!
"Living Easy" - by Nancy Olney
A couple of weeks ago we had an ice storm that knocked the electricity off at our place for 30 hours. While lying under a thick quilt, double shirts, socks and a wool hat on my head, it brought thoughts of our forefathers and mothers who went through the whole winter without electricity and of course, no central heat, electric blankets, heaters, lights, indoor plumbing, electric stoves, dryers – get the picture? I barely survived 30 hours and the temp outside wasn’t that bad. The house temp got to 50 but the worst part was no hot tea or coffee on demand. To top off the insult, it was almost Christmas! I was brought up with no dryer, no central heat but did have a good heat source, hot water and a great radio. What I am getting at is that I have become so “soft” in such a short time. How did they do it? Get up in the freezing cold, start a fire (not turn up the thermostat), bundle up and run to the well or river – break the ice on top and get a bucket of water. The first water hauled maybe wasn’t for you but for the animals. After chores, then you get some breakfast which might be plentiful or not depending on what you did to put up provisions in the fall. I’m sure there was-n’t any fresh fruit or great coffee. I have been trying to think of something that you cannot get year round now. Sure you may have to pay more for something ‘out of season’ but you can have it if you are willing to pay the price. Fifty years ago we were eating only what was in season at the time. We all have grandparents who had never had a banana when they were children. It boggles the mind! Now having ram-bled on about my hardships, I want to talk about all the people that make our lives so comfortable. Behind every convenience that fills most of our houses, there are many bright, hardworking people. Just think about what and who is behind getting that banana on the table and that is just one tiny thing that makes life (or Gary’s cereal) better. Right now my hat goes off to all the men and women who worked hours and hours in freezing rain and snow and cold to get my electricity back on. Some of them traveled from miles away to help the Vermont crew in our hour of need. Also, thanks to those who came to cut downed trees, branches and clear roads, lines for the electrical workers. I would add that these jobs were done in what were very dangerous situations and done round the clock and some gave up their Christmas with their families to see to it that we had a bright, warm Christmas with our families. So I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all those behind the scene that make life ‘living easy’ for me.
"FOND FAREWELL" - by Mary Noble
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!
"End of Summer" - by Nancy Olney
I would be lying if I said I was sorry that summer is over but I am! Now it would be a bigger lie if I said I was looking forward to what is coming, winter! I have never enjoyed winter. I tolerated it better when I was younger but couldn’t say I really enjoyed it. Do find that with winter, if you can get out and do something like ski, sledding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, you are less apt to hate the season. Should have included snow-shoveling (one of Gary’s favorite sports!) I have done all these in years past but no more. My focus is now on trying to stay upright and not going down on the ice!
Summer- this was supposed to be the summer of sitting at camp, swimming and growing heirloom tomatoes! I stayed one night at camp, went swimming twice and those tomatoes – nota!
We started in May preparing for a yard sale, helped plan the VAE Bennington tour, had the yard sale, greeted our grandchildren and son from Montana, took our son to airport for trip back to Montana, grandkids stayed, took in our Vermont grandchildren (now we have two granddaughters 5 and 7, two grandsons 8 and 9). We hosted the group for a couple of weeks. It was fun but so much harder than I remember. On July 20, we head west with the Montana grandkids in the big red truck with the ‘old’ basic pickup camper. First highlight was Niagara Falls with a ride on ‘Maid of the Mist’, then onto Ontario to a Butterfly Sanctuary, so far so good. Back to the USA and headed toward Mt. Rushmore, stopping at the largest truck stop on I-80 in Iowa. Can’t think of anything you can’t get or do there! (legal or illegal), about half way to Montana, Grace and Quinn decided that going by airplane was the way to go! There was quite a discussion on the fact they would be home and with family and friends and this way they would probably never get there! Thankfully, these thoughts were short lived as Grandpa found something fun and interesting to stop and see. We stopped and explored places, went through the Badlands and many, many more. We camped all the way out and back (about 6000 miles). Have to say that the ride back was extremely quiet. Some thought we were crazy and I guess we were a little. But, looking back, we are so glad we went this way. There were some tense times, some tears (mostly mine), a lot of laughs and a lot of talking (on their part and ours), we traded a lot of stories and tried to solve many world problems. Our wish is that a cross country trip with Grandma and Grandpa will be remembered and passed on to their children (with or without embellish-ments!) Should be good for a few laughs in years to come.
Now you would think that after a trip like that you could kick back and relax- not if you are ‘car people’! Just back and we headed to New York State for the ‘Slowspokes’ tour planned by Bill and Jan Sander. Great tour including train ride, boat ride on the Erie Canal and many wonderful sites. A great time was had by all. Is it over? No way. After a short time to clean your clothes, get a new toothbrush and pack, we were off for a 4 cylinder Plymouth tour, planned by Gary and Wendell. Beautiful tour of Ludlow, Grafton, Bellows Falls area (my home area). I think there were 31 people (from VT, NH, NY, Ohio, Texas and Ontario), there were 9 Plymouths and again, a great time was had by all. As I write this, Gary is on his yearly pilgrimage to Hershey with 2 batches of brownies and 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies. I’ve gone back to work.
We will still have to put the cars to bed for winter and there are leaves to rake, camp to close and then all that will be left is to find the perfect piece of cardboard and just wait for that first snowfall!
"A FAMILY VACATION" - by guest Softer Sider, Betty Corliss
It was now 1928; and our family had never all been away together. In fact, Dad had not been away from the ranch since he came there from St. Albans with a carload of Vermont Jerseys in 1910. My Mother’s family worked for the railroad and always had vacations. Dad finally agreed to make arrangements to be away from the Ranch and it was decided to go to Colorado. Mrs. Coe, of the family that ran the general store, contacted her father, Mr. Shoemaker, who lived in Denver and he agreed to arrange a trip from Denver up onto the mountains and rented a cabin for us. We packed suitcases (no trunks, of course, in our old Dodge sedan) and stuffed them into racks on one side of the car. Inside we had a small case of eggs and a box filled with a double boiler, frying pan, and box of oatmeal. Our little sister, age 4, sat between the parents in the front seat and the other four of us sat in the back seat with our feet on top of the boxes on the floor.
The first day we got only as far as the Colorado border, a distance of 200 miles. It rained, making the gravel highway slippery. The roads always had ditches on each side for drainage, for often rains were heavy. We called that kind cloud bursts. On this day, every so often there would be a car in the ditch and we would have to stop to help them get back on the road. We stopped at the first group of cabins (the name for motels then) that we came to. Mother went in first and quickly pulled back the bedding to make sure there were no bedbugs! In the morning we had our oatmeal and fried eggs before we resumed our journey. The route was through the eastern flat land of Colorado and we noticed large fields of lettuce. Dad was curious and stopped to investigate – and ended up buying a small crate, which had to be crowded in with the other paraphernalia on the floor of the back seat!
It was late afternoon when we drove into Denver. At one point we came to a long line of cars in our lane. Dad just pulled over and drove up to the head of the line and went through. Mr. Shoemaker put us up for
the night in sort of a loft in the building where he lived. We probably had another oatmeal and eggs breakfast before we started for the mountains; Mr. Shoemaker squeezed in with us in the back seat. We got back on the highway we had come in on, and Mr. Shoemak-er pointed out that there was a red traffic light ahead, and we were supposed to stop! This was the first time we had ever seen such a thing and, of course, we realized what had accounted for the long line of stopped cars when we came into Denver!
We soon got on to Long Mountain and were amazed at the narrow, winding road. Sometimes when meeting an approaching car, one would have to back up to a wider space. It was pretty scary. We arrived at the cabin safely, overwhelmed with the scenery, the like of which we had never seen before. The next day we explored the surrounding area, making snowballs when we found patches of snow. As we anticipated leaving for Denver, Mother announced that she would not go down in the car. “How will you get home?” Dad asked. Mother, coming from a railroad-oriented family said “There must be a train!” Needless to say she joined us for the trip down which we made safely. At one point when Dad remarked about the view, Mother told him “We’ll look at the scenery, you watch the road”.
After leaving Mr. Shoemaker off in Denver, we made a side trip but were advised not to try Pike’s Peak in our old Dodge. We found a park with charcoal cookers. Dad bought some ham and eggs which Mother fried in the skillet and of course we had lettuce too. The trip home across Colorado flats was extremely hot, and the patches on the inner tubes kept melting off, resulting in flats. After many repair stops, we finally got to Garden City, KS and bought replacements. We also decided to keep on driving through the night for the rest of the way home. Mother and I took turns sitting next to Dad to make sure he didn’t doze. It was daybreak before we arrived home. John and Catharine were sleeping soundly, so the rest of us rushed into the house and our beds. They had their own stories to tell about when they woke up, such as eating berries off the back porch vine.
We were so impressed with our “vacation” that very soon thereafter, I went to Dad’s typewriter and wrote a long account with carbon copies for the family back east.
"Mary This Month" - by Mary Noble
Have just returned from working in the Courtesy Booth at the 56th Stowe Show and again was totally amazed by the dedication of all the workers involved. Thanks to huge efforts and some adjustments, the weather Thursday night and Friday, for instance, from what I’m hearing, the Show was quite successful. Bob Chase, Duane and Marnita Leach, the leaders of the pack, did it again! Thanks to Andy and Marty Barnett covering for me at the Courtesy Booth, I was able to ride in the parade with Wendell in the Roadster and to enjoy the obvious appreciation of spectators along the parade route for our vehicles. It’s now back to the realities of weeding the gardens, haying, and hopefully, doing some harvesting of whatever grew in the garden. The weeds at least are doing extremely well! Those who know my husband will perhaps be shocked to learn that we now have a riding lawn mower – into the 21st century at last!! I guess he must see it as some kind of a suburban status symbol. This will, of course, leave me more time for weeding – yippee!
I was once again asked by one of my friends if I get tired of going to car related meetings and on tours, but, again, said that I have met so many truly lovely people I would not have met otherwise, it is just pleasurable, rewarding and fun. The VAE members truly rock, to use an old term, have led such interesting lives, done so many and varied things and are just plain nice. This is a trait (niceness) that seems to be getting lost in much of our world. With all of the digital technical devices being used today, folks can’t look up from their virtual world to view the real world. Writing on paper with a pen, or, gasp, a pencil, or face- to- face conversation with real people, smiling at others, (I do this and get blank, or puzzled looks) – you get the idea. Saw a cartoon recently that showed a person mentioning what they had read in the newspaper, and those present were using electronic devices trying to figure out what a newspaper is/was. Oops, maybe I/m ranting again – sorry. The bottom line here is that I feel fortunate to be a member of the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts and the old car hobby in general.. Happy Fall everyone!
"Old Age - Comes At A Bad Time" - by Nancy Olney
To be honest, my age never really mattered to me until last December when I received my Medicare card in the mail and I was informed that as of February 1st, 2013 I was eligible! I didn’t want it but there it was and now there was no turning back or trying to fool myself. That small little card was staring me in the face saying ‘you are getting old’!! Isn’t it amazing how ‘old’ 70 was when we were 40! But, how young it really is, right? When I found a few gray hairs, I found a great hairdresser. When I told Gary I was coloring my hair, his comment was “Emmylou Harris let her hair go gray” – my comment back “when I can sing like Emmylou I’ll go gray”!
I can’t get over how age just creeps up on most of us. One day you are working 40-60 hours/week, shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, raising vegetables and two boys. Then, the boys were the first to go! I didn’t throw them out they just somehow grew up and left. Or maybe it was the cleaning first, but the garden was next, reasoning that the ‘Farmers Market’ does a great job and we DO need to support it, next, Gary took over the laundry (I wash – he dries and folds), he also took over the dishes, then the 40-60 hour/week job went to about 10 hours a week and the paycheck disappeared!, still shopping and cooking (but far less of both). Unbelievable, one day I was doing it all and with what seemed like overnight, my body feels like it still is, but certainly isn’t! My question is when did I cross ‘the line’? Maybe it was back when I realized I needed singing lessons. Got to close, I have a 4 o’clock audition to sing back up for Emmylou. Just think of the time and money I’ll save not coloring my hair!
"The Day I Didn't Quit Smoking" - by Doris Bailey
A friend told me about a man down in New Hampshire who could hypnotize you to quit smoking. I had been smoking for a few years and this seemed like a good idea. Also, our son Clark had mentioned he wanted to quit, so I called him at Lyndon State, where he was a student, and he said yes he did want to quit, so I made an appointment with the hypnotist for the next Saturday. We agreed to meet at exit 19 or 18, and after some confusion about getting to the right exit, we finally met there. We parked my Camaro in a parking lot near a mom-and-pop store and gas station and both rode to the hypnotist’s in Clark’s old ”winter-beater” Cadillac.
When we got to the hypnotist, it was a simple office set-up with an inner room. I paid $50.00 for both of us and Clark went first. This session lasted about half an hour. Then it was my turn. A darkened room and I began to wonder if the man had to say the same thing over and over, or did he use a tape recorder? So, instead of concentrating on what he was saying, I kept listening for the hiss of the tape being played. I didn’t get hypnotized at all.
After we left, I realized I had just wasted $25.00. Clark said he seemed to have been hypnotized. Anyway we found a place to eat lunch and afterwards drove back to the Camaro. I took the keys out of my purse and was going to unlock the trunk to get my jacket. I inserted the key in the trunk lock, started to turn it and the whole key assembly fell into the trunk, including the keys! I expressed rage and frustration in language “not suitable for a family magazine” and agreed with Clark that maybe we could at least open the car with a coat hanger. He went over to the nearby store to borrow a coat hanger. He was gone quite a while. What’s keeping him, I thought. Finally he returned with a coat hanger and this explanation: he went over to the store and as he opened the door, he looked up and realized a man was robbing the store, pointing a gun at the clerk behind the counter. She was unloading the cash register into a bag he had on the counter. Neither of them saw Clark, who quietly and quickly withdrew. There was a sort of niche next to the door and he was able to hide in there. He couldn’t see the robber and the robber couldn’t see him. He waited, and soon the man came tear-ing by him, ran out and jumped into the car his accomplice had waiting. They roared out of the gas station and disappeared. Clark went into the store and after the clerk calmed down and called the police, she found a coat hanger and Clark returned.
“You could have been killed!” I shrieked. “I know it” said Clark, “but anyway here’s the coat hanger” he said, with a grin.
We couldn’t open the trunk with the coat hanger so we fiddled with the door peg, managed to pull it up and opened the car. The only way to get to the trunk was to take the back seat out. After a fierce struggle, Clark managed to get it out and I squeezed in and grabbed the lock and keys.
After all this, we both were a little shook, so we talked for a while and then said good bye. Clark went back up to Lyndon and I headed for Burlington. I hadn’t had a cigarette since the night before, and my nerves were screaming. I pulled over at the Richmond exit and bought a pack of cigarettes. (After all, Clark could have been killed!) I happily started smoking once more.
The best part of this story (which happened nearly 40 years ago) was that Clark never smoked again.
"SAD(LY) MISSED" - by Mary Noble
I tentatively decided not to go on about my hang up with the loss of adverbs these days, like I once went on about the lack of manual transmissions. This is the “Softer Side” after all. BUT, how many times a day do I see a sign saying “Eat local”. What’s with that? What’s local? Is it something to eat? What’s it taste like? Or is it lo-cal? “Buy local”, “Drive Slow”? Is Slow some new kind of car im-ported from China? I drive a Ford. Whatever happened to adverbs? They “modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or preposi-tion, a quality, place, time, degree, cause, opposition, affirmation or denial, and in English also serving to connect and to express com-ment on clause content”, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. As an old English major, I, get a little frustrated, literal(ly), reading the Burlington Free Press, for instance, unlike our Wheel Tracks publication. Oops, I did it again, when I’d meant to just mar-vel at the welcome arrival of Spring: the cheery daffodils, crocuses, tulips, lilacs, fiddlehead greens and green leaves, and of course, the “peepers” in our swamp. It also means raking, lawn mowing, garden preparation, spring cleaning (what?). Uh oh, is this the start of negativity?? This being Vermont, we’ll have a rainy spell, but great(ly) needed. Dang, I finally gave up and faced the fact that this is another tirade – sorry. The adverb was my friend. I could use it to helpfully point out to my husband that he was sloppily dressed, rudely sarcastic and usually both. But that friend has sadly passed away – I actual feel real bad about that.
And, by the way, sloppy and sarcastic did some goodly things. He roto-tilled the garden, readied the lawn mower for me, split wood I could (hopeful) lift, put his dishes in the sink, helped make our bed, didn’t complain, too much, when I left the curry out of curried rice, and always comes home, eventual. After all, there is always a glass of wine waiting. In short, I real miss adverbs; they are great needed.
"Out of the mouths of babes!" - by Nancy Olney
On the 29th of April, Gary and I will have been married 41 years. We probably should have “big” plans to celebrate but have found that, like so many couples, we have settled into a fairly quiet and comfortable existence. I bring this up because sometimes something happens to make you at least take a step back and reflect.
What happened in our case was a comment made to Gary from a 12 year boy who was doing a history project on ‘How automobiles had changed’ and he interviewed Gary, here at the house with his teacher. Gary gave them the ‘grand’ tour and thankfully he could get the 29 Chevy started and gave them a ride around Derby Line. As you can imagine, Gary has plenty of interesting ‘stuff’, especially to interest a 12 year old boy! Of course, Ryan invited Gary to the History Expo to see how he put his project together. Fast forward a few weeks and it is Expo day. Gary takes his camera and heads to Derby to meet Ryan. When he saw Gary, he was so excited and asked Gary not to move while he went and got his mother so he could introduce her. When Gary went to leave, Ryan said, “Mr. Olney, you are the most awesome man I’ve ever met”!! Gary got home and told me what had been said and I, of course, laughed! This is where the ‘reflection’ part comes in. I asked myself if this 12 year old was seeing something that I saw over 40 years ago but after raising 2 boys, preparing approximately 30,750 meals, about 1000 batches of chocolate chip cookies, and over 10,000 loads of laundry, not to mention all the cars, motors, fenders, etc., that I have helped move from one place to another, had kind of forgotten. Had I gotten to the place his mother was, when Gary, after having a full beard for years (I had never known him without one) shaved it off? His mother looked at him and said ‘have you gotten new glasses?’ Knowing something was different but hadn’t really looked at him. Is the term ‘taken for granted’? When I met Gary, he had traveled over the world, been in the Air Force with 2 years in Turkey and 2 years in Japan, been to college, had a great interest in cars, parts, post cards, signs, and many other things too numerous to mention. After we married, he graduated from Vermont Technical College with a degree in Land Surveying, which he worked at and loved for many years. What I’m getting at is, that this is Gary today with all his interests. Back then I thought all this was awesome and have to admit, I guess I lost sight of it all but thanks to a wonderful, articulate, and interesting 12 year old, I’m reminded- maybe I will plan something big for the awesomeist man in the world for our anniversary. I’ll start right after I get supper, get the cookies out of the oven and - hang on, Gary is calling me from the warehouse, he’s in the ‘31 Plymouth and needs a push!
Dopey Things We Do - by Doris Bailey
Here at Allenwood, where I now live, the majority of the residents eat dinner at night at tables of six. One night we were discussing dopey mistakes we had made and Evelyn told us this one:
She was shopping one Saturday and came home, parked the car in the parking lot, gathered up her groceries and came inside. There was a minor snow shower or two that night and Sunday morning. All the cars Sunday morning were lightly dusted with snow, except hers. “That’s funny” she thought, but maybe the north-west wind had just happened to clear the snow off. She didn’t go out at all Sunday. Monday morning, more errands, so she walked down to her car with the keys in her purse, she thought. To her surprise, the car was unlocked. She got in and saw the key in the ON position in the ignition and the engine was running! The car had been running since Saturday with the heater on! She raced to the nearest gas station and told them to "Fill it up!"
Another one (nothing to do with cars) of my daughter Linda:
She was painting the bathroom and had gotten to where she had to paint behind the toilet and sink. She put a towel on the toilet lid and set the paint can on it. Carefully dipping her brush in the can, she knelt down and stretched forward to paint. Her shoulder unknowingly pulled the towel and the full can of paint down on her shoulders and head! She let out a scream and her teenaged son came running in. Appraising the situation at a glance, he said "Hold it, Ma, I don’t want to miss this! I’ll get my camera!" Linda pointed out to us that thank God it was a quart of latex paint and not a gallon…
And, so in closing, I quote Oscar Wilde "Be yourself. Everybody else has already been taken."
Sugarin' & Cats - by Mary Noble
One of the many things I love about Vermont is the weather, yes, the weath-er. This is because if you wait a couple of minutes, weather you don’t like will become weather you do like. Of course, it also can become quite dreadful, but that is life in Vermont. According to that noted groundhog, Spring will come early this year – we’ll see! Of course, with Spring comes lawn mowing, gardens to be planted and weeded, haying, etc., but in early Spring, comes sugarin’ time. We didn’t sugar last year due to a lack of help and “someone’s” defective ankle. With no effort, we made no syrup, but others expended a lot of effort and still didn’t make much syrup. It was a lousy season anyway. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back to it by tapping fewer trees and with help offered by a neighbor who is available during the week. In case you didn’t know, sap usually starts to run on Monday morning when people with jobs have to be at work. Again, we’ll see.
On a totally different subject, I so related to Nancy’s cat tale, and commend Nancy and Gary for persisting in taking on Willy despite many rejections. So many animals are neglected, abused and/or dumped with no thought about what may happen to them. We have taken in many strays over the years as people see a barn and just know this is a good place to dump their unwanted cat or dog. When we bought our house in the early 70’s, there was a mother cat and her five kittens trying to survive in an old shed. Unfortunately, they all had distemper, so after finally catching them, we took them to the Humane Society for humane care. Our latest cat had to be rescued from a tree (our resident cat had chased him there). He was a skin and bones kitten with what seemed to be a broken tail. His tail was saved and he is now a fluffy, not fat, twenty pound tiger cat. (Those of you who have met Oswald probably are having trouble imagining him as “little”.) As members of his staff, he tolerates us and usually sleeps with us. But never expect a cat to show a lot of gratitude, as they know who is special – after all, they once were worshipped as gods and have never forgotten that! So that’s the weather and cats in one Softer Side!!
(And old cars are right up there with the weather and cats on my good things list, o.k., guys?)
Another Chapter - by Nancy Olney
Cars are bedded down for the winter, holidays are over, there are still remnants of cookies and fudge and decorations, so now you would think that we could all settle in for the cold and snowy days ahead. Maybe catch up some of the reading you have wanted to do or some “winter” project that you want to get done. If you are like us, these “projects” have been begging to be done for several winters. But, this is the year to get it done. Sounds good, doesn’t it? As usual, something seems to get in the way of all our good intentions.
Let me tell you about ours.
About March of 2012, a skinny, scraggly, dirty cat showed up at our door. He was very skittish and extremely hungry. So we started to feed him and he came every morning about 6 AM and scratched at the door and waited for us to give him his breakfast. This was repeated again about 6 PM and we soon learned his schedule and tried to comply, even asking a neighbor to bring his meals when we had to be gone. We named him Willys (Willy) and tried to get friendly with him but making friends was on us, he continued to accept and maybe I should say, demand, service but didn’t seem to get any “closer”. At one point he bit Gary, bad enough to draw blood. While not exactly the behavior we had wanted from him, it would have been ok if there hadn’t been a rabies scare in the area. From the look of Willy, with his crooked tail and a piece torn out of his ear, with no shots, Gary could be at risk. He contacted someone involved in catching stray cats and they set up a “have a heart” trap. If caught, Willy would be taken to a vet, get a checkup, have shots, be neutered and taken to a farm in the area that accepts “refurbished” cats. I don’t know which of those things Willy objected to most (Gary seemed to think he knows) but Willy had other ideas! Half in the trap, it triggered the door, faster than lightening, Willy backed out and was gone! Back to square one and the days before Gary would have to start rabies shots were ticking down. Advice from the vet, and Gary’s doctor: watch the cat (if he returned) and see if he displayed any strange behavior. To make a long story short, Willy returned to eat and eat and eat. No friendlier, no less demanding but thankfully not sick.
Since then, Willy has been spending the cold nights inside, in my chair. You would think we have our teenagers back the way we worry about where he goes for sometimes hours. Willy now likes us to pet him, give him treats and make of him. He checked out our grandchildren at Christmas and decided to make a fast exit until they left. We check the door when he is out and about, making sure he isn’t waiting on the doorstep to come in. Willy went out New Year’s Eve and was still out when we went to bed about 12:30 AM. At 2:45, he was at the door and I was there to welcome him home. Now, we could sleep! We can’t believe his attitude: he ignores us, and he doesn’t seem to be concerned with how we fuss over him and will just walk away or turn his back. All the teenage years come rushing back. Just thankful he doesn’t drive. Have to cut this short, Willy’s supper time.
MARY TOURS CHINA - by Mary Noble
It seemed appropriate to give the “softer side” of our trip to China, observations I noticed, such as the flowers, which were every-where possible and all trimmed and lovingly cared for. One example was a wall of flowers in an elaborate pattern composed of plants in individual pots and somehow set into it; apparently this is a standard planting technique for flower beds as well, at least the ones we saw. There were few overweight Chinese as the majority walk or bicycle everywhere. They need to be agile, as cars, trucks, buses, motorcy-cles, scooters, motorized bicycles with a rickshaw setup for passengers, all competing nonstop for spaces in traffic, and pedestrians do not have priority. As Chris told us, “Look four ways twice” before trying to cross a street! The other part of the street scene is vendors trying to sell passersby everything imaginable, “very cheap” and they are eager to haggle, in fact almost insist on it. These folks are also present at every tourist attraction; the walk up to the Great Wall was lined with them. Meals, ordered by our translator with input from us, were placed, dish after dish, on a huge lazy-susan in the middle of the table. They included lots of tofu, spicy or not, always bok choy, cabbage or swiss chard, a fish and/or meat dish, then rice, and last, soup (it is impolite to fill your soup bowl to the top) and fruit – usu-ally watermelon. Then came the challenge to master chop sticks in order to get the food to one’s plate, not to mention in your mouth – there were spoons for the soup! Speaking of food, we went to a “wet market” where vegetables and fruits were displayed. The meat sec-tion was piles of meat – pork, chicken, beef – to be picked over by buyers – a big pyramid of hamburg that was picked up by hand and placed in a plastic bag to be weighed. It was a little shocking as we are used to everything being packaged and in a cooler, but we learned that food is purchased every day, taken home and eaten right away. I stayed away from where the live chickens were, with customers waiting. There were fish, eel, shrimp, clams, crab, etc., swimming around in tanks. Back on the sidewalk there were, besides “very cheap” sellers, street cleaners, mostly women, using what looked like a witches broom made of twigs to sweep up any bit of debris – a lot of cig-arette butts, despite “No Naked Flames” signs. There were bicycles passing by with huge loads of cardboard folded for recycling and laundry was hung from racks attached to apartment house balconies. We visited temples which were crowded with people burning in-cense, bowing and praying to Buddha as well as patting the heads of big reddish fish which is believed to bring good fortune, and leaving money in and on the various statues of gods. There are many rituals and traditions the Chinese observe. One last thing to mention were the ladies rooms away from hotels – the “facility” is a porcelain basin set into the floor, no hand holds, and paper goes into a wastebas-ket. Enough about that! The Chinese people seemed genuinely anxious to try to talk with us Americans, which was gratifying, and their work ethic is to be admired. For someone who originally said no way she would go to China, it was an extraordinary trip, largely thanks to Chris Barbieri’s great organizing, choice of guides, introducing us to new Chinese foods, sights, and all with a fun group of VAE members.
ACCOLADES TO STOWE SHOW ORGANIZERS - by Mary Noble
When I met our dedicated Wheel Tracks editor, Gary “Scoop” Fiske, at the Stowe Show, he reminded me that it is “my” month. Uh oh, I’m in Stowe, the computer at home in Milton, ideas, nil. As the show went on, RAIN and shine, I decided that what better topic than to tout the organizers of this event. To most folks, this is a great show that “just happens” in mid August and is greatly enjoyed by casual spectators as well as rabid car enthusiasts. What is probably not generally realized is that it is the culmination of a full year of monthly meetings by the show committee to plan, organize, arrange, and try to anticipate whatever may or may not come up. These organizers have many years of experience to draw upon and are a totally awesome and dedicated group. Then during the week of the show’s opening, the field has to be set up, signs put up, packets prepared, get media coverage, food prepared for workers, sound system setup, parking area ropes and signs for show cars and the public, car corral setup, flea market setup, a plan for weather changes, places for visitors to sit and rest, golf carts ready, contacting and confirming the Stowe Fire Department, EMT and police presence, port-a-pot folks, trash pickup (what a great job they do), constantly being available to solve whatever problems arise on the spot – all that and more! Then comes the inglorious task of taking down and packing up everything, maybe getting a little break, be-fore starting plans for next year’s show. Whew!!! There just are not enough good things that can be said for Bob Chase and Duane Leach’s leadership, but I’ve tried, lest they think no one is aware of all they do, as they, literally, run from one situation to another. We realize that whatever the weather brings, or what problems arise, the Show will go on and will be spectacular. Thank you from the softer side! Marnita, you are awesome as well!!
Could this be a dream? - by Nancy Olney
I want to tell you about the perfect car tour I was on recently. We stayed in a hotel that had once been a single family “summer home”. The living areas were plush and cozy. My room was quite spacious and the height of comfort with a lounging area and the most remarkable bathroom, equipped with all the “necessaries” and a large soaking tub with the most fabulous shower you have ever seen! I could go on and on about the accommodations but we are on a car tour aren’t we?
In the morning, we would gather for breakfast and listen to the tour guide tell the days agenda. I must tell you the break-fast was just fabulous, a large assortment of muffins, scones, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, maple granola and coffee, tea and juice of your choice. The day’s tour was a short ride to the resort’s spa where you could have a pampered day filled with massages, manicures, pedicures and of course, lunch. There is a place provided for anyone (probably the men) to park their cars and walk around them and talk and talk and take a few pictures and I guess I did say talk didn’t I? Then the short ride back for “happy hour” and get in a little more talk before dinner. Dinner and then back to our luxurious rooms for a little TV and a good night’s sleep preparing for day 2.
Day 2 – We gather for the same wonderful breakfast and briefing for the day. Today we take a short drive to the local flea market known for its’ many artists, crafters, and a wonderful food market where we will have lunch. Of course, there is a place to park the cars and let (probably) the men, walk around and talk and meet more men and talk, take a few more pictures and talk a bit more before heading back to our wonderful accommodations and have dinner. A little after dinner talk and by now there are some repairs or tweaks to be made to the cars and some discussion on how to make them. Anoth-er day gone and a good night’s sleep needed.
We leave everyone today. The goodbyes take time and the next tour is discussed and we say goodbye until next time. You would think this is the “dream” car tour and you would be right! It was just a dream. So boring!!
Ode To Stuff - by Mary Noble
Okay, this is no ode – poets write loads of odes, and to everything; urns come to mind, but I don’t believe I’ve seen one to “stuff”. When I was trying to think of stuff to write about this month, my erudite husband suggested I write about “stuff”. Now, who was the English Lit major?? Not him! Anyway, we all have our stuff, usually unique to the individual, and very dear to him or her. Beanie babies, Cabbage Patch dolls and pet rocks were a lot of folks’ obsession a few years ago. Then there are thimbles, paperweights, cups and saucers, old bottles, books (yes!), stamps, old coins, chickens, old tools, license plates (1909 dealer plate anyone?), art, CAR PARTS – amazing! Many of us have family heirlooms, but where, oh where, to put all of one’s stuff?
It could be put in a stuffing box, but that is a whole other thing, right, old car guys? An addition could be built, another garage, wall- to- wall shelves, hang stuff from the ceiling? Or hand it off to children – probably not, their interests aren’t necessarily ours, so, I say, enjoy your stuff, even flaunt it. Some of our best “stuff” we dug up in our back yard, apparently considered to be “trash” by an earlier generation. So who’s to say what stuff will be collectible, valued, or found in a flea market, o.k., or on line, in the future? As I was writing, I looked around at some of my stuff. Pictures, old books, bottles, old kitchen utensils, a spinning wheel, books, boom chains, rusty iron tools, bowls and baskets, college mugs, coffee grinder, glass and ceramic cats and birds, pewter tea and coffee pots, did I mention books, wooden boxes, Matchbox cars (none made in China), old clocks, 45 RPM records of the 1950’s, old kid’s toys and dolls and more books. Almost forgot, interesting rocks from interesting places we’ve visited, except from England, as “he” wouldn’t let me put them in our luggage, bird’s nests and sloughed off snake skins. Then I think that when I’m gone, these will be what I’m remembered by? Oh well, flaunt our stuff now!!
Are You Mannerly? - by Nancy Olney
I do a lot of shopping at a small village store known for their meat and deli department. For some reason I have an aversion to buying such at the big grocery stores. Why is this? I guess it’s that I trust the village store to sell me quality and for the 27 years of shopping there they have never had a “recall”. This store also served as employment for our 2 sons when they were in high school and still hire a very young staff. Excuse me, but I could, if not careful, get off the reason for this writing. I want to talk about manners or lack of.
The subject is brought to my attention nearly every time I step out my door. I want to tell you that I don’t go with that thought on my mind or “looking for trouble” but there it is!
On a recent trip to the Derby Store, I parked, got out and almost immediately started gathering stray carts. I can’t tell you why but I feel a need to move them from the random areas they have been left. I guess some of the reason is the parking lot is small and it is hard to park with carts taking up space and I have to admit it annoys me that people won’t take an extra minute to put their carts out of the way of others. On this day, I got to the doors with all the stray carts. I need to tell you that the doors are not automatic open. Well, I was having a bit of trouble pushing the carts through the door, when I noticed two young people behind me. Get the picture – 2 people about 20-25 years old, looking very physically fit waiting for an “older woman” to push carts through the door. Now, “the rest of the story”. They saw the situation and (quick thinkers that they proved to be) went in the exit door which gained them a quick entrance and avoided having to wait or help me! Oh, I’m sure their elderly, sick mother was waiting in the car (with no heat) for them to pick up some chicken soup and get her home to bed! Maybe they weren’t raised by a mother but by wolves. Isn’t there a story about that very thing? By the way, I watched them and they were getting a deli sandwich. Well, that explains their behavior. They were hungry. All is forgiven!!
At first I thought that the lack of manners was only in some young people but sadly it seems to cover all the age groups. All this said there are some very mannerly people out there and if you are one, I personally thank you and ask that you pass it on to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and car enthusiasts. We can win this. For me, I’ve got carts to gather and maybe I’ll review my copy of Emily Post.
Before I sign off, thank you Gary for printing this, thank you members for reading it and a big Thank You VAE members for pushing in your chairs, picking up your empty cups and plates and finding the recycling bin!
A Thanks to Our “VAE Family” and... - by Mary Noble
The first thing I want to say this month is a heartfelt “Thank You” for the caring condolence cards sent us by VAE members after Wendell’s mother passed away in December. She was 107 years old, which was amazing, but she truly was an amazing lady and gave a whole new meaning to “Mother-in-law”. She was “Mom” to me as well as Wendell. Makes me glad all over again to be part of the VAE family! Our VAE Christmas party seemed like a family get-together as do most of our meetings. How often do we actually look forward to a “meeting”?? Now for something completely different.
I was recycling the other day and noticed, once again, how many people don’t bother to read what is accepted as recyclable. I grant that most, at least, aren’t tossing it out their car windows, but that’s another story. Apparently our legislators aren’t doing a very good job either, according to an article in the Burlington Free Press recently. Which brings me to mention throwing trash in with recyclables, tossing plastic silverware and glasses away when they can be washed and reused. It really doesn’t take much time to rinse out cartons, jars and cans, fold out cardboard boxes, remove small lids. And then there’s soda cans and bottles that are returnable for money – they should be rinsed out as well. Our son, in his younger days, worked in a bottle return center and I always think of the yucky smell, especially beer cans and bottles, and particularly in the summer. So I’m a little fanatical about this subject. Of course, there is also my wanting to ‘clear up’ after a meal or a meeting, which goes back to my waitressing days. It drives Wendell a little crazy, but I just feel I have to help “neaten” up, clustering the cups and glasses, etc., for easier removal by our server. My fellow writer, Nancy Olney, and I are on the same page with this “neatening up”, should I say, hang-up!? Anyone who has been to our home probably wonders why I don’t practice what I preach – my answer is, too busy baking!
The Eighty Days of Christmas - by Nancy Olney
If my memory is correct, I believe it used to be the twelve days of Christmas. This year the Christmas "stuff" started to appear in two local stores at the same time the Halloween candy appeared in August. Back "in my day", the Christmas season started when the Sears Christmas catalog appeared around Thanksgiving. Many an hour was spent pouring over that book, pencil in hand, to mark all the dreams a child could muster. Dream as we did, we also knew, somewhere in the recesses of our mind, that we might get one toy or game or maybe nothing from the catalog at all. Growing up, Christmas gifts were made up, mostly, of what we needed - not wanted. This was the time to get new PJs, socks, warm clothes – things that we had worn out or outgrown. Many gifts were geared toward what the whole family could use – like a toboggan or skis or skates for the oldest and you would get the equipment passed down. I remember opening the "used" with the same enthusiasm as the new. My Mom would always add something to the used to make it seem new, such as, new laces, paint touched up, polished and maybe our name stenciled on the item. Actually, one of the highlights was our stockings from Santa. Many a Christmas Eve, my Mom was woken before dawn, to find four children creeping around in the semi-dark house on a mission to see if Santa had come and gone. Again, the stocking held things like toothpaste, new toothbrush, candy cane, and always a nice orange in the toe! It was a wonderful, magical time that I think has been lost since Christmas starts coming at us in August. Also, who needs anything? I would admit I have quite a few wants but certainly, at this writing, no needs.
By now you can see why I’m writing this. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful and fun to go back to the "twelve days of Christmas", not eighty? Actually be able to give someone something they need and get something you need. Teach each other that waiting for Christmas to get what may be waiting in your stocking or under the tree isn’t a bad thing but it just makes the anticipation even sweeter. Now, I’m not lobbying for you to not buy new socks or PJs when you need them and if you do, I’m not saying you have to wait for Christmas to get them. All I’m saying is that we all should have a little restraint when it comes to buying. When you can’t think of "anything" to get a person for Christmas – just maybe they already have too much.
I told you that I don’t have any needs. I just remembered I do. I need a haircut - should I wait for Christmas?
As The Leaves Are Falling... - by Mary Noble
...As the leaves are falling, old cars are being readied for their winter rest, gardens mulched and the lawn mowers put away, I watch farmers trying to get in their corn, chop the last loads of silage, and, of course, spread that aromatic slurry, I marvel at their tenacity in keeping their family farms intact and maybe make enough money to be debt-free. That ethic, in my opinion, is the best of Vermont. Wouldn’t it be nice if those who wish to demonstrate, wave signs, and do "sit-ins" put their energy and enthusiasm into helping folks trying to recover from tropical storm Irene or even help out on a farm. How much better off we would all be if that time and energy were put into producing material well-being. And there are jobs to be had; nothing wrong with a "menial" job - we can’t all be, or want to be, CEO’s. It is necessary to take the first step to get to the next one.
While in high school, I worked as a waitress, in a shop at a golf course (never did play golf), babysat and when in college, tutored a student who was dyslexic. She once asked me how you look up the spelling of a word in the dictionary, if you don’t know how to spell it. Good question since we didn’t have spell-check, let alone computers! I guess my point is, there should be a "point" to what we do in life, and we are so very lucky to live in a country where we have the opportunity to do so.
See, I didn’t even mention manual transmissions or trash thrower outers!
When Did I Learn That? - by Nancy Olney
Have you noticed that there are things that you know, that other people don't seem to? Gary and I have discussed this from time to time. We can't tell you why or how we know things but seems that we have always known certain things. This was brought to my attention recently, when my left blinker started blinking really fast which is the warning that your directional bulb has blown. Not wanting to take the time to check into it immediately, I decided I could us hand signals for a short while.
WRONG!! Stick your hand out the window to turn left and see what happens! One young lady looked at me like I was crazy and gave me a "look" that said, get off the road Granny! Some blew their horns, saying, use your blinker! I got at least one "wave" back at me! This was something I thought everyone that drives a car knows - hand signals. From this experience, I guess not, but isn't it still covered on the drivers' test?? One thing that I hate when driving some of our older cars, you know the ones, the ones without directional's…. is corners. It is always in my mind, do they know about hand signals?? I can tell you that I decided that a new bulb was in order, sooner than later. Looked in the trunk and then went to the car book of "how to". I, personally, feel the directions were not easily understood but between Gary and I (and the threat that we might have to ask for help) we got the bulb installed. The book does say that you may have to take the car to the Ford dealer for proper installation. I really don't think Henry intended that we had to see the dealer to change a light bulb! Changing light bulbs, now that's something I thought I always knew!
The Tropical Storm and... - by Mary Noble
Trying to think of a “Softer Side” topic, I initially drew a blank, so I picked up a new, yellow, lined pad of paper for inspiration. Hmmm, not so inspiring after all. Then came tropical storm Irene and the havoc it wreaked on Vermonters. We were in northern Maine that weekend for a family reunion, where there is no cell phone or radio reception. There were lots of relatives, pine trees, lakes and loons, but no information on the storm‘s track. The last we knew Friday morning when we left home, was that it shouldn‘t affect us until late Sunday afternoon. We left Maine early on Sunday, not knowing anything until well into Vermont. Thanks to VAE member, Ken Squire's reporting on radio station WDEV, operating on generator power, we were guided safely across northern Vermont and all was well, but, oh, poor central and southern Vermont! Reports of Vermonters helping Vermonters, including several VAE members, men, women and schoolchildren all were working to restore power, repair roads, clean up people‘s homes and posses-sions, bringing in food and water, rescue and recovery operations, were so heartwarming. Such a lot of courage and resilience was shown by all involved.
On the lighter side, we have been enjoying the Mountain Slow Spokes and Gypson Tours lately. What is especially enjoyable about old car touring is the great reception you get from people as you drive by. Most people notice and give you a smile and a wave. They all appreciate and are glad to see you. We even pulled up alongside a State trooper who rolled down his window and gave us a thumbs-up, even though we didn‘t have an inspection sticker. When you are in an old car, everyone is your friend. What a shame that some folks miss this experience, and don‘t even realize they are missing it. One can drive an expensive sports car and get atten-tion, but the reaction from observers is more of a single finger wave, than those smiles and waves our classic cars receive. As VAE members, we treasure that reaction and hope more folks will be eager to take the road to that same experience.
Vacation "hightlights" - by Nancy Olney
Gary and I just returned from a 6 week vacation. I used the term vacation but perhaps it should be more like an Odyssey. It really wasn't what I would term a “vacation”. Gary drove (and I rode) over 7,000 miles. That isn't 7000 miles of new road, it is 7000 miles, some of which is backtracking and going forward, sideways and back again! He likes to tell people that he does all the driving, which sometimes is true but this time it wasn't. After finding a wonderful collection of old cars, tractors, etc. and parking me in the direct sun, I took matters into my own hands and backed the truck (with camper) into the shade!! Thus breaking his record for doing all the driving! Enough of that subject. My main reason for this article was to let everyone know that all roads lead to cars (in my world anyway) and the cars lead to owners or someone who knows the owners. Everyone we have met has some connection to someone or someplace or something that we do. Sometimes it is almost eerie! We started our trip traveling to Ontario for the 4-cylinder Plymouth tour. That proved to be very enjoyable. We met a few new people and many we already were acquainted with which was good to see them again.
We went from there to South Dakota to search out Jim Lay, a “Plymouth” owner who was in the process of restoring his car and had contacted Wendell Noble who had given Gary the information. We arrived at his place without too much trouble, (thankful for cell phones), and found that indeed he was doing a restoration. Of course, you know where that leads so I'll move on. During their conversation, Jim left to get something in the house. When he returned, he gave Gary a picture of a car on a trailer – Gary looked at it and quickly realized that it was a picture of his 31 Plymouth Convertible Coupe!!! He turned the picture over and stamped on it was; Return to Harry F. Olney, 62 Chester Rd., Springfield, VT. That was Gary's dad. It seems that Jim's dad and Gary's had corresponded about 50 years ago and as you could tell, Jim's dad never returned the photo!! It is now back in the family's hands!
We were eating with our grandchildren (THEY were the reason for the trip!!) in an A&W in Helena, Montana, when a man drove in (with his grandchildren) and probably wouldn't have caught our attention but he was driving a '63 Ford Galaxy Convertible. Waiting for food, Gary went and talked to him and found out he was from Connecticut but had lived in Montana a long time. And of course, found the history of the car! When their food arrived, they left and got into their car. I noticed he had left his wallet and cell on the table. My husband grabbed the items and ran after him and thankfully caught up with him. Needless to say, he was very grateful. The point of this story is that if he hadn't had that car and Gary hadn't talked to him, we probably wouldn't have noticed his left behind items.
On our way back to Vermont, after putting on several hundred miles going around the flooding in North Dakota, we were able to link up with Jim Benjaminson. Gary and Wendell wanted to thank him for his 40 years of service as an officer in the Plymouth Club and deliver some of Wendell's wonderful maple syrup to them. What my husband said would be an hour visit lasted all day! Are you surprised?? But, even I have to admit, it was extremely pleasant. We saw his collection, a museum he is involved with and a nice lunch. I couldn't ask for more.
So on your next vacation, go with the flow but make sure to take along a few books (I read 7), knitting or anything else that helps pass the time when you feel you can't listen to one more car story.!!!
You Want Character….Live on a Dirt Road - by Mary Nobel
There has been a lot of complaining in the media, diners, coffee shops, etc., about poor road conditions, from pot holes to mud bogs, now flooding. We live on a dirt road, and, in fact, with each new Town Manager, we bring him or her a copy of a piece entitled “Dirt Roads”. A quote from it says, “People who live at the end of dirt roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride”. Thus dirt roads give one character. We do not want our dirt road paved as we need all the “character” we can get. I guess “character” started when we had to walk to view this house with the realtor as the road was a mud bog – but we still bought it!
Just like our vintage cars, the roads we drive them on need maintenance. This is particularly true for dirt roads. Technically, of course, the Town is responsible for road maintenance, but they need a little help from the taxpayers to let them know what is needed and where. There are two approaches to doing this, the positive and the negative.
Although some people don't seem to understand this, the negative approach gets negative results and the positive approach gets positive results. With the negative approach, you make a phone call to the highest possible town managerial level, and speak loudly to be sure you are understood. Be sure to mention your credentials in terms of taxes paid and political clout. Also mention your assessment of their credentials and then explain what you want done. This will definitely get results. For example, during a winter snow storm, your road will be widely plowed, giving the mailman easy access to where your mailbox used to be. The positive approach doesn't require any phone calls. I've found that a periodic stop at the town garage with a tin of sticky buns or whoopee pies gets very positive results. Our road is frequently graveled, graded, raked and chlorided to keep the dust down. That's how they let me know when some more treats would be in order.
Just as a little attention and TLC keep our vintage cars running smoothly, the softer touch keeps the roads smooth. Now don't let me get started on people who feel a dirt road is a good place for their trash to be tossed. There is not enough room to cover that!
How Far Is Too Far ?? - by Nancy Olney
You've all seen that sign that says, "Unless you are naked, don't touch this car!" Years ago, when I first saw it (back in a time when I was trying to impress my soon to be husband), I wondered why anyone would take and put such a sign on their beautiful car. Was it a way to trick people into removing their clothes for the treat of touching their car? I never did see anyone fall for that but I can tell you, I keep my eyes open!
What I'm really getting to is the cars that owners guard like Fort Knox. You can spot them at most car shows. They are the ones trailored, and covered. Oh, they tease you a bit by dropping the wheel covers to give you a seductive look at those wide white walls. They keep a duster in hand at all times. Ever vigilant to the speck of dust or the errant finger print as they circle the car, caressing the fenders with their duster. Stopping only long enough to survey the crowd for any hint of someone who might step too close! What I imagine Homeland Security to be like when the President is in town. But, unlike the President, he will take questions- in fact welcomes them. "What about the paint job?" In great detail, he will tell you about the 23 coats of hand rubbed acrylic gloss at the cost of 213 hours and $28,000. And then swing into many other details, all the while scanning the crowd for anyone that might breech the perimeter!
Come on, lighten up a little. These cars are supposed to be fun. Fun to me is not taking your car out of hiding once or twice a year and spending your time worrying that something or one might touch it! I REALLY do appreciate all the precious time and money spent but there is a limit! (in my opinion). Most of these cars never saw a paved road and if you could ask Dr Horatio Jackson, some never saw a road at all! I TOTALLY agree they need to be respected and "gently" used. Don't get me wrong- would I give my 3 year old granddaughter, Addison, a candy apple and say "go play in Grandpa's car?" Or give Cooper, our 6 year old grandson, a couple of die cast cars and tell him that the fenders of the '37 make a great car track? Probably not, but on the other hand…………………. Just kidding!
I get it! But I have to tell you, there isn't much better than having your grandchildren come to a car show, "drive your car" and at the end of the day, sitting on the running boards- proclaim, "Grandpa, we LOVE car shows."
So for my cars, lift the hood, open the trunk, lean in to get a good look at the dashboard and don't forget the odometer! But, PLEASE, keep your clothes on! My grandchildren are at an impressionable age and come to think of it, "so am I!" Yes, after 39 years, I'm still trying to impress him!
The Epiphany That Created An Enthusiast - by Mary Noble
As a one-time "old car widow", I have experienced an epiphany! When my husband first joined the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts, one of my friends suggested with great sympathy, that going to meetings and events would be just old car "stuff" and boring talk about old car "stuff". I tended to agree with her, so Wendell and I reached an accord in that he wouldn't require my presence at VAE activities if he didn't have to go to craft fairs.
At some point I decided I should be a little supportive since he was so enthusiastic and worked so hard to fix up our 28 Dodge coupe. I remember a phone call from him during the Shelburne car show asking if I'd be o.k. with him buying another car, a Plymouth roadster ( we really did "need" a car with a rumble seat). I, of course, was at a craft fair. Despite my surprise at the "consult" and having no clue what a "roadster" meant, of course I agreed and he was a happy man, a very good thing.
When I started to attend meetings with him, I found myself meeting a lovely group of men and women whom I otherwise wouldn't have met. They welcomed me and made me feel needed. Since I pretty much live to be useful and to feed people (ask any of our family), the potluck meetings fulfilled that desire. When Wendell became activities chair, requiring us to bring the basics for dinners, the "new fangled" coffee pot was a challenge, but again, there was always help. And, by golly, the meetings and events were fun, informative and interesting – and that Stowe show flea market turned out to be a bonanza of really good "stuff" I could relate to while the guys talked cars.
To complete my "epiphany", when we recently attended the Farm Show in Barre, just like my experience at VAE meetings, I noticed how pleasant and friendly people there were – they would smile back at you, something sadly lacking in most crowds these days. It is very good to be surrounded by "real" people. So, I guess this makes me an "auto enthusiast" for life, as VAE members are, like, totally real. Ladies, give it a try!
From the "Cookie" at the Stowe Show - Savory Chicken Pot Pie - by Marnita Leach
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-16 oz. Can chicken broth
1 Medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 Large chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
2 Large carrots peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons of flour
½ Cup frozen peas
2 Pie crusts for 10 inch pie (ready made or homemade)
Directions…..In large skillet, heat the olive oil till almost smoking then add the onions and sauté them stirring them to coat with olive oil. Then add cubed chicken, cook until onions are translucent and chicken is cooked through, stirring often. Remove to a bowl.
Heat the chicken broth to a boil then add the potatoes and carrots to cook them through, simmering about 15 mins. Reserving the broth strain the potatoes and carrots and add them to the chicken. Add the peas as well.
In the same sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon butter and add 2 tablespoons flour. Stir continuously over medium heat . Cook until it's paste like...about 2 mins. Whisk the reserved chicken broth to it and cook until it thickens. Stir in all the vegetables, chicken and parsley. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Place crust in bottom of deep-dish 10 inch pie pan. Pour the chicken and veggies over the bottom crust then place top crust on top. Crimp the edges. Cut 3 or 4 small slits in the top, place on cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 40 mins or until the pie is hot and bubbly. The crust should be golden brown. Serves 4.
How to Keep Your Mate Interested! (in old cars of course!!!) by Nancy Olney
The following will be some do's and don'ts regarding, what for many a woman, is the 5th season of the year the dreaded “car show” season. If you are just starting out and introducing her to the car show, this will prove to be the easiest time to cultivate a love or at least a liking for such things (if done right!) If you are a veteran of such, it will be harder but certainly with the right attitude, can be achieved. I will start with the don'ts:
1. DON'T spring it on her the morning of the show! ASK her about the date at least 2 weeks before.
2. DON'T expect her to pack the lunch, get the cooler ready, pack all the things needed for children (if there are any) and then wash the car!
3. DON'T arrive at the show and disappear after shouting over your shoulder, “ Get me a hot dog (light on the mustard) and 2 drinks at 12:30.”
4. DON'T offer to walk around with her and then pause at each car, for no less than a hour, and talk to the owner (which when done- it brings at least 3-6 other men who want to talk and so you end up seeing about 8 cars in the 12 hours you are there!)
5. DON'T forget that while most “car guys” don?t need food, drink or a restroom, the rest of us do!!
6. DON'T think that you get any trophy for being the last one to leave the show!
7. DON'T forget that if children are involved, everything is much harder!
8. DON'T give her a crash course in what the car is and has (unless she asks you to!) I have found that most “car guys” will believe anything you tell them!
Now some do's:
1. DO introduce “car shows” in small doses. Be sensitive to how much fun everyone is having.
2. DO offer to take the children while she strolls through the flea market.
3. DO make sure she has a chair, food, drink and a good book, if she is to be left alone at the car. (and only if she wants to be left alone at the car- I have found that is MUCH preferable!)
4. DO try and introduce your mate and curtail almost all lengthy conversations and do your best to “move along”!
5. DO take pictures but don't feel you have to wait for every spectator to leave the field, besides, I'll bet you already have a picture of the car back home, somewhere!
6. DO return to the car from time to time so you can ask if she needs anything and she can be sure that it wasn't you being taken away in the ambulance that left the field earlier!
Now, go and have a good time but remember in almost all cases, everything is easier to do at HOME!!
The 40s Part II (part I below) by Nancy Willett
American designers came to the forefront in the fashion world with the closing of the Parisian fashion houses, boosting such designers as Clare Potter, Claire McCardell and Carolyn Schnurer in sportswear.
Lilli Ann suits were made in San Francisco and Hattie Carnegie designed fine dresses in New York City.
Very fashionable dresses were designed with sweetheart necklines, side zippers and drapery that flowed from side to side. Casual wear consisted of pleated pants, print cotton dresses in patriotic motifs, polka dots, checks and abstract designs in bold colors.
Suits and dresses were worn with platform-soled shoes. Cork wedge was used in place of leather and steel during the war. Suede and fabric platform sandals and mules were fashionable and in Italy, bakelite was used for soles and heels.
The outrageous hats of the previous decade were replaced with turbans, crowned hats, hand knitted caps, and calots worn at the back of the head. Kerchiefs and veils tied under the chin were a chic trend, with hats becoming frivolous again after the war with veiled turbans adorned with fruits and flowers. Hairstyles were rolled or pageboys.
In 1947 Christian Dior's "New Look" was a totally different design with unpadded soft round shoulders, padded hips and full skirts with pleating at the waist, calf-length skirts with crinolines in rich feminine fabrics. Hats were very small and designed to coordinate with specific dresses.
Men's clothing also had fabric and design restrictions. No cuffs, pleats or overlapping waistbands. Vests were limited, and the two-piece suit replaced the traditional 3 pieces. Backless vests were used for eveningwear, with narrower trousers and shorter jackets made with rayon, rayon blends and flannel. Battle jackets were popular casual wear.
The "Zoot" suit made a brief appearance, but was considered a waste of too much fabric. It was styled with oversized coats, big shoulders, slash pockets, full knees, cuffs, trousers hiked up with suspenders and oversized bow ties. Does this look similar to what the boys are wearing today?
The Hawaiian shirts picked up by servicemen as souvenirs became casual wear in the late forties. (Original shirts are very expensive and highly collectable today.) The bold post war look contrasted with the somberness of the war years with broad shoulders, wide lapels, wide spread collars, large cufflinks, plaid socks, and colorful ties.
Ties were the mainstay of the forties with patriotic colors during the war. Hand painted designs and photo ties in vivid colors inspired by art deco. After the war luxurious silk ties were manufactured once again.
The 40s Part I
Wartime saw many restrictions in fashions and clothing in general. The United States stipulated the amount and types of fabric that also affected European nations. With nylon, wool, and silk in short supply, women were forced to turn to fabrics such as rayon crepe, black faille and velvet chiffon for evening clothes. Rayon gabardine was the replacement for wool.
As a direct result of wartime restrictions standardized button and pocket limitations were introduced. Women's clothing became much more masculine as boxy suit jackets with large shoulder pads, fitted waists, and dresses sported a peplum with narrow skirts. Later on the A line skirt was shown with suits.
Hollywood still greatly influenced the American fashion world and the forty films were filled with the fashions of the time; Suites, sweaters, skirts, pants, bathing suits, shoulder pads and sweater sets were made famous by Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.
In the evening beaded sweaters and jackets were the choice as sequins were un-rationed and were widely used along with rhinestone buttons. Costume jewelry was large, consisting mostly of pins and brooches made in sterling silver.
Expensive gloves were replaced with knitted or crocheted ones. Stockings were thick rayon. Pocket books were tremendous in size, elongated, and with the metal shortage, made with wood or plastic closures.
Broadcloth or calfskins were used with many women crocheting their own with gimp or cording. Crocheted bags were manufactured in great numbers along with envelope bags, panier handle bags, pearlized plastic bags and hatbox bags, all designs of the forties.