From a home in the Great Northeast Kingdom To The Champlain Valley…
January 20th, 2013 was a cold and windy day in Greensboro Bend. Hundreds of Snow Rollers were poked up in the white fields around Dave and Dot Maunsell’s home on Cook Hill. Dot had prepared a great lunch while outside at times one could see only a few feet through the swilling snow, only the Champlain Valley folks seems to be amazed at the weather outside.
Four VAEers had made their way to Cook Hill to haul the 1917 Studebaker back to Milton. The car had spent the last 18 years in Dave Maunsell’s garage and driven frequently . Gene Towne of Milton had finally convinced Dave to sell him the car after many months of negotiations. Dave is pictured above on the left and Gene on the right. (unknown to all of us at the time…the two trailer tires you can see are flat! Try to picture some ole-guys taking turns replacing the air with a hand pump…yes you have it.)
A friend had told Dave about the car and in 1995 Dave and Pev Peake drove to Michigan to examine it. The car was mostly original and had very little wear. So Dave bought the car and had it hauled home. He and Gael Boardman put new rod bearings and piston pins into the engine. Gael knew of two sisters who did leather work, and they made a new leather band for the cone clutch. Otherwise, very little has been done to it. The interior leather is in good condition but the top is not useable. Gene said that will be his first priority, to find a shop to replace the top.
It is a fair weather car. It has a 16 gallon gasoline tank, a vacuum tank and takes six quarts of oil. The owner’s manual states the car will use about a quart of oil every 85 miles. It is capable of 50 miles an hour but with two wheel brakes, which are marginal and have never been replaced, 40 MPH is a safer speed today. The speed limits in 1917 were 25MPH on the highway and 10MPH in town.
One unique feature is that the front passenger seat can be flipped to face the rear passengers. Another is that there are two ’jump seats’, with arm rests that can be used and then stored under the rear seats. The front seats are adjustable back and forth along with the clutch and brake pedals. It has a 6 cylinder engine with a monobloc (no remova-ble head) that produces 50HP. The car has a ‘transaxle’ type transmission where it is ‘married to the rear differential. It was sold new for $1075 in 1917.
In 1917, Studebaker was the largest man-ufacturer in the world of horse drawn equipment, wagons, buggies, gigs harness and the like. They got a contract in 1916 to supply the Allied Armies with their extensive horse drawn army equipment including the wooden caissons and wheel used for field artillery. With the end of the war in 1918, the company directors decided that automobiles were their fu-ture and ceased operation of all horse drawn equipment. They built a new mod-ern auto factory in South Bend, Indiana, where they remained until the end of 1964.
Vin Cassidy, the tale is told, purchased this 1915 Buick Tourer in Iowa last year (2011) but did not have the room to haul it back to his home-base in Rowley, Massachusetts. Vin and his family operate Cassidy Brothers Forge in Rowley where some very beautiful architectural wrought iron is manufactured. Along with running the sales department, Vin also buys and sells vintage auto parts throughout the U.S. If you are ever in his neighbor-hood you really need to stop by and tour the many garages and containers of old car parts in the rear of the forge business. Many VAE members have bought some of Vin’s treasures at surprisingly low prices.
Now back to the tale and travels of Vin’s Buick…. Earlier this year Vin returned to Iowa and hauled his Buick home. Then in August, deep inside of our Stowe Car Show vendor area we could all hear an engine cough a couple of times then take off with a bang or two. It was Vin’s 1915 Buick looking about what it looks like in the picture to the left. Someone could be seen stand on the trailer feeding fuel to the engine and working the carbure-tor….Vins Buick had arrived in Stowe! No one at the show was interested in buying the car so Vin hauled it back home. During the return trip one of the doors fell off requiring Vin to back-track to Stowe looking for it. This reporter forgot to ask Vin if he found it so you can ask when you see him next.
Fast-forward to the Fall Hershey Car Show…. And guess what is making it’s appearance? ….The 1915 Buick sitting rather lost on it’s trailer! About the second day of the show some ‘higher old-car power’ kicked in and yup you guessed it…a person from Iowa appeared and was interested in buying the Buick. It is told the Buick is now residing in Forest City, Iowa with a possible bright future.
Buick made around 42,000 cars in 1915, 19,080 of them were touring cars like Vin’s and the car pictured to the right. They were also still making carriages in 1915, in fact a completed carriage would come out of their factory every ten minutes, some 25,000 each year. The company started around 1850 as McLaughlin Carriage Company not far from Oshawa, Ontario and made it’s first automobile in 1907. In the beginning the cars were known as “McLaughlins”. Later the name changed to “Mclaughlin-Buick” then became simply “Buick” when the company became General Motors of Canada in 1915. Interestingly, until 1914 the cars were finished with the same paints and varnishes the company used on their carriages…some fifteen coats on every car.
There was an international bicycle race in Burlington on the 18th of August with many roads closed to cars. That only meant the VAE had to get up earlier for our tour start at Wake Robin at 8:30AM. After a grand welcome and breakfast treats from the Wake Robin folks the tour started with many Wake Robin residents joining us. The tour included Shelburne Farms and a wonderful loop into Charlotte where we even found the ‘shortest covered bridge in the world’. The pictures will tell the rest of the story.
Stowe Show Vendors… here are four of the 250 who brought their wares to this year’s Show. What makes them so special? They have been coming to our show for nearly 40 years.
It was Chuck Haynes’ birthday on the 10th of August, the first day of the 2012 Stowe Car Show. It was also his 37th time coming to the Stowe Show to sell his wares. Chuck, pictured on the right, has been a long time VAE member and was president in 1970. He has seen many changes in our club and has helped guide the VAE to the great club that we are today. Chuck’s son, Paul (on the left) has plans to carry on when his dad decides to slow down.
Chuck specializes in Ford parts and has a 5000 sq. foot warehouse in Montpelier. He sells mainly on Ebay where he renews his listings every Friday, his Ebay handle is vtcarnut.
A car delivery in 1966 started him on his Ford journey. While working for a dealership in Haverhill, NH the owner sold a Model A to a customer in Chicago. The buyer wanted it ‘driven’ to Chicago to be sure the seller was telling the truth about the car and Chuck was chosen to make the 1000 mile drive. While driving through Detroit he decided to stop at the Ford plant with his Model A to see if he could get a fifty-cent tour. This led to a job offer and employment at Ford Motor Company. The big city and big business did not mix well with Chuck’s country background and he soon returned to New England where he was involved in many other adventures in his 68 years. Some of us might remember an auto parts store by the name of Daltons on Hoyt Street in St. Albans. The store opened in 1922 and closed in 2005….Chuck purchased the inventory and spent 14 months moving it all to his warehouse. Can you imagine visiting Chuck’s warehouse?
Walt Rodiman (left) became a Stowe Show vendor in 1976. A retired Air Force gent and a dealership parts man is most likely what led Walt into his vendor journey. In years past, Walt has spent his summer traveling to as many as 16 car shows. He claims the Stowe Car Show is one of the best. When asked why, he points to the people passing by and says “look at the big crowd and there are no fights…everyone is happy”. Walt has 6 spaces and makes three trips from Piermont, NH to fill them before the show…and full they are. It didn’t take long to discover that Walt ‘knows his parts and his cars’ as customers had all kinds of questions for him. It also didn’t take long to find that Walt is as honest as they come. Customers would have a part in their hands ready to purchase and Walt would be telling them they would be wasting their money by buying the item because it would not fit on their car. Walt has two sons, Michael and Wayne. We all hope his Stowe vendor tradition will continue another 36 years. When asked if he could do something better than the sober expression when his picture was taken he replied if we want him to smile we should wave a one hundred dollar bill in front of him. We all had a big laugh. Good luck to you Walter Rodiman.
Our next feature vendor is Denise Labrecque from Lyndonville, Vermont. This might be the last Stowe Car Show for Denise unless her son Richard decides to continue. Denise and her husband Rene started coming to our show many years ago and some-times covered 20 others in one summer. Denise lost Rene seven years ago and thinks this might be her last year. She has continued these last seven years by loading her car with only what treasures she can lift and with a little help from her vendor neighbors, she has stayed in business. In fact her Stowe Show neighbors have become such good friends over the years they insist that she spend the nights with them. The only comment from them when asked was how great of a lady Denise is. We hope to see you next year Denise….you can’t quit now!
Davey Nadeau has never missed a Stowe Car Show and 2012 was no exception. Mr. Nadeau had been there to set up their booth but was not there on Saturday, he had driven home to Surry, NH to tend his two dogs. His son Bryan and grandson Davey II was holding the fort. This was the five-year-old’s second time at the show and he knew the ropes. A customer asked if they had a certain item and dad Bryan didn’t have a chance. Davey II yelled “I’ll get it dad…I’ll get it” and all dad could do was stand and watch. People would walk by the booth and yell to ask Davey how he was doing and he of course would run out to greet them. Dad said he knew everyone around. Davey II was all business until a little blond girl his age walked by with her parents. When she asked if she could have one of the display balloons a new race began, the little blond girl got 100% of his attention. Brian has been helping his dad Davey for many years and says the Stowe Show is one of their best. He said other shows charge much more and very few allow them to stay the night on the grounds. He said they had done very well so far into the weekend. Brian’s business when there are no vendor shows is restoring cars for resale. One last Davey II story…. During the interview dad Bryan started laughing and pointed out one of his son’s ways to start a conversation with strangers. He had just gone up to some passersby and asked if they had seen his father.
They of course were ready to help when he points toward Bryan then asked how they were doing.
When I called Mervin Wells to ask if I could feature his Hudson Big Boy Pickup for Wheel Tracks this month, all I knew was what is entered in our 2011 Roster. A couple of phone calls later and a visit to Marshfield and presto, I have met some of the nicest folks you can find in all of Vermont.
Merv and his wife Clara live in the Winooski River Valley just south of Marshfield in the farmhouse his folks had and where he grew up; a beautiful valley, even in the middle of winter without our normal snow. Merv is 90 years old and they have been married 67 years, he was a plumbing and heating specialist and Clara a bookkeeper at Goddard College for many years. Their daughter Betty claims the reason for her parent’s great health is Clara’s cooking skills, she has a degree in nutrition. Merv was a drummer in a band back in the 40s and even though Clara’s folks wanted her to “stay away from that drummer”, they finally did marry and raised a family of four boys and two girls, which has led to some 33 around the Thanksgiving table with 5 missing.
Now to the Hudson… Merv purchased the Big Boy in Florida 27 years ago from Ralph Adell. The truck needed a lot of work and restoration but Ralph told Merv he would have no problem driving it home to Vermont and that is what he did, with his son following behind. Years earlier Ralph had found the Hudson in a Connecticut woods and needed to clear trees that had grown up around the truck to get it out. Once the Big Boy was pulled out of the woods Ralph added a battery, gas and oil; started it with no problem and drove it to his home in Pennsylvania, a tribute to 262 flathead 6 cylinder engine. I also heard that engine running and some could say the sound could be close to music.
Merv has since painted the truck in the beautiful two tone grey that you see in the picture, reworked the wood and added many new parts including all new tires. Parades in the area have included Merv and his Big Boy for years but since a small stroke a few years ago has limited his use of the clutch, he has decided to sell. Someone will end up with quite a treasure and the day it leaves that valley, I am sure, will be a sad day. You will see the listing in the classifieds for the contact information.
It was a great pleasure to meet you Merv and Clara, I wonder if there is a day in the future when you could attend a club meeting.