What a Way to Fight a Fire!

american la france 900 series pumper

I’ve been thinking about my early memories of the VAE. Gael and I weren’t married — just dating — when on occasion we would go to the VAE meetings at the Lincoln Inn in Essex Junction. I remember Pev Peake being there, because by then he was a good friend of Gael’s. Probably most of the others are gone now with the exception of Lloyd Davis. There was always a collection of old cars in the car park, a number of them being someone’s daily transportation.

Fast forward a few years to the summer of 1960. We hadn’t been married but a few weeks and living in St. Albans when a good friend, Mahlon Teachout, stopped by. The next thing I know, Gael and Mahlon had left to look at a fire truck in St. Albans somewhere. Little did I know then that that would be happening with regularity in the coming years. I guess I could have called myself an old car widow. Well, the two of them bought this fire truck, an American LaFrance fire truck, and proceeded to take it to Mahlon’s father’s shop in Colchester. They spent many hours there doing something or other, but within a matter of weeks, the fire truck became a speedster with just a seat, gas tank, and right-hand drive steering wheel, four wheels, etc.

It eventually came back to St. Albans, and we had a great time driving it around. Was it registered? Probably not, but I don’t remember. That was so many years ago when license plates got moved from one vehicle to another. I’m sitting here looking at a picture of it. Quite a thing. We took it to the Stowe Show in 1960 and that was my first memory of the Stowe Show. No trailering this beast. We drove it. What fun! Then, at one car meet at the fairgrounds in Essex that the VAE held there for a while, the track was open to folks to try out their old cars. Gael and Mahlon did just that and ended up tearing the track up, so they were asked to leave.

The next year we moved to Underhill, along with a 1934 Chevrolet Sedan (Edward), Gael’s Willys Knight, a 1927 Federal Truck, and the speedster. Eventually the speedster ended up in Barre, and then I don’t know what happened to it, but I have photos of it along with the registered number plaque and some great memories — memo- ries of the speedster and the early days of the VAE.

1941 Dodge 1/2 ton Pickup WC

Jim Shover Always Wanted a Show Pickup. He Found This One in a Field in 1973.

jim shover 1941 dodge pickup wc

Jim Shover has family all around him and they are very special to him. However, it does not take long to find another type of family in Jim’s life, and we believe if he could add the Shover surname to his Dodge, he would.

Jim’s “other” family member is a 1941, half ton, Dodge pickup WC. He found the truck, in a field, at the end of the drag strip in Milton 50 years ago. Jim paid $25 for the truck and paid someone $40 to haul it to his home in Burlington. He said the tires still held air, but mother earth was slowly reclaiming it with a tree growing through the frame. The frame was shot along with many other items on the truck, and years were spent collecting what he needed to bring the Dodge back, including the replacement frame.

Jim has “brought” this truck back in very fine fashion. A quick count of trophies over the years was in the neighborhood of 46 and counting. The person who sold the truck to Jim all those years ago was Claude Racine. We wonder how he would react to seeing the Dodge today.

1941 half ton dodge pickup wc

Jim started his mechanical training in the automotive program at Burlington High School for part of his school day, with the other part at his home school at Rice for his academics. After graduation he decided to continue his automotive track at Franklin Institute in Boston. He was amazed at the level of detail that was taught there. He speaks of having to learn the amount of oil flow for each gear of an automatic transmission, as an example. This training lead to a career with the phone companies, New England Tel & Verzon, as a mechanic. You wonder what Jim could teach us shade-tree mechanics.

So what is this Dodge WC all about?

1941 half ton dodge pickup wc interior
Simple & Efficient

WC might mean something totally different to a non-old-car person who might have traveled Europe a bit. Dodge had another idea. They made over 380,000 truck and called them WCs, VCs and VFs for the military. Another category of the same truck was “job rated” for the civilian market.

These trucks ranged from Jim’s Dodge, a 2-wheel drive, 92 HP pickup to the one & a half ton 6X6 vehicles the military needed. All the trucks shared many common parts that could be easily interchanged.

1941 half ton dodge pickup wc front
Remember that Garfield in-your-face cartoon? Nothing compare to this Dodge.

Some say the WC stands for “weapons carrier”. Others say the W simply is Dodge code for 1941 and the C for the 1/2 ton rating. Books on the subject are still disagreeing on these designations It might have to do with the confusion of WWII.

The military use for Jim’s 2-wheel drive version of the WC Dodge varied. Some had bench seats for carrying troops, and others were simply called a “Carry All”. Some were set up as a panel van, while other were used for telephone installation and repair trucks.

The sweep of those fenders, however, lets us know the truck did it with class.

A Perfect Day

I don’t follow baseball anymore but have been curious about what people think of the new rules like timing for the pitcher, etc., been curious about what people think of the making the game shorter and, I guess, less boring. I heard one father say that he saves up to take his son to a game and doesn’t feel he’s getting his money’s worth with the shorter version.

I saw the other day that the Yankees had a PERFECT GAME! Which I guess with all the celebrating is a game that is few and far between. If you baseball fans know it was not the Yankees, please forgive me because I didn’t take the time fact check and you don’t have to write me a Tweet, Twitter, email or Facebook. You get the idea! I wondered if after the game the rest of their day was perfect.

It seems that when I go out, something always happens to ruin my perfect day. The other day I was having a great day when, backing out of a parking space, I came close to running over a motorcycle (that was bigger than my car) and, thankfully for me and him, my car has a backup bell which screeched at me. I try to be very careful, but the other guy has to be careful too. His space would still have been there even with a bit of patience.

Some things that have happened lately is a woman almost knocked me over getting to the register at Kinney Drug. It was so apparent that a man grabbed my arm to steady me. Of course, she could have had a bleeding husband in the car, because she did have Band-Aids!

I have a habit of talking to people when I am shopping (thus laying myself open to different reactions). A few seem to enjoy the interaction but certainly not all. I especially like to comment on the children, and that gets you some “dagger” looks, grabbing of the children to protect them from “that” woman. As if at 75 and after raising children of my own I am out looking for kids to snatch. I want you to know that I never put my hand out to touch a child (or a strange dog for probably the same reasons).

Several years ago, Gary and I were traveling to and from Montana, and we had stopped to look at some campers when Gary noticed an old, rusty car with a camper hitched to the back. Well, it started to roll toward some brand new autos and – behold! – no driver. Gary, being quite a bit younger at the time, ran over and jumped in the car to stop it. He was met with two elderly ladies batting and yelling at him to “get out, get out!” He managed to stop the car and get out without any damage to him or the vehicles. After meeting the driver of the car, I felt this could have been the best day in these ladies’ lives to have Gary steal them away, and after they calmed down, I think they felt this way too. Gary always said if he were going down for grand larceny, auto theft and kidnapping, it wouldn’t be in an old, rusty car and camper and not one but two elderly ladies that could pass as his grandmothers!

I thought I had the perfect day last week. I was waiting for my order at the Mexican Restaurant in Derby when two ladies walked in and ordered. With what one was wearing, I was pretty sure she worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, so I asked her (and she did). Then I asked if they sell frozen lemonades anymore, and the answer was no, which I voiced my disappointment. That ended the conversation, and I got my order and started to leave when she stopped me and said if I would come in later, that she would be working and she would make me a frozen lemonade! Wow, I thought this was my lucky day!

When I went into Dunkin’, there were two big signs asking for help and saying they had to close early for that reason. Well, I got my lemonade and was feeling great about the day when the man behind me started yelling, “Can’t you all hurry up?”

Just remember, there are those out here trying for a “perfect day,” so, please, do your part to help, or at least get out of the way.

1930 Plymouth Roadster

Rita Codling and Alden Chapman owned this beauty, a 1930 Plymouth Roadster

Our 1930 Plymouth Roadster
By Alden Chapman (Written in 1980
)

Having had three roadsters previously and selling them for various reasons, we decided it was time to find another one, this time to restore and enjoy. At the 1974 Gypson Tour, mention was made of a Plymouth Roadster up for bid in an estate sale. Asking a few questions, it turned out that another member of VAE, Steve Stepheson, had been trying to purchase the car for a number of years from the original owner, but had been put off each time.

Steve would visit the owner several times a year, and the owner would have a different reason each time for not selling. I called Steve and related what I had learned. Steve said that he had enough cars and to go ahead and bid on it. A few minutes later, I called and made a bid of what I thought I could afford. I was told there were other bids from folks who had high hopes, but empty pockets. I was then told the car was mine, but that I had to get it off the property by 8 the next Saturday morning.

Having purchased the car, sight unseen, and wondering what I had bought Steve suggested that we go down Wednesday night and see the car. It turned out the car was basically complete and in not too bad shape. Some rust, but all wood was very good. The administrator had repeated that he wanted the car gone by Saturday morning with nothing fishy, make the check out to the estate and be gone by 8 AM. Saturday morning, Stephenson, Del Saben and I left Barre with Steve’s truck and a borrowed trailer long before sane people were awake and headed for West Rutland, arriving at the farm around 7. We loaded the Plymouth with no trouble and headed home, well before the deadline.

Back home again, we had a close look at the car in daylight. It would need a new engine, water had been left in and froze. Parts of the head were at least 1/4 inch above the rest with cracks around each plug hole and bolt. The rear wheel seals were gone with no brake linings, just metal against metal. We wondered how old Sam stopped?

The next evening Del Sabens stopped by. He had found an engine for me. Did I want it before the junkman got it….I sure did!

Now that I had a car and an engine, I needed to finish my garage to make a place to work on it. My nephew, Charles Codling, installed the ceiling and insulation and added a heater. I was now ready to start the restoration.

Bill Werneke straightened the fenders while they were still on the car and made a new rear fender from a collection of new and old pieces. With the fender basically straight the car was then dismantled.

Although most Chrysler-built cars had black fenders and undercarriage, this Plymouth has a green undercarriage and fenders in body color. As my sister and I are the second owners and the car had never been in an accident, this would have to be a factory job.

As finances permitted, work went on. The upholstery material was selected to come close to the green leather and compliment the original colors. Romania Grenier of Washington thought it would be an interesting experience to upholster an antique car compared to antique furniture. Sure is, isn’t it?

The engine was pulled out of the car and stripped of all usable parts and the rest junked. The engine that was to be used was sent off to the rebuilders for a complete rebuild. More about this engine overhaul later.

After having been disassembled for two years, the parts were stored in the attic, the cellar, my bedroom and everywhere else that you would find old car parts. The frame was cleaned, sanded and painted.

Then assembly started and things went slowly but smoothly. The engine came back from the rebuilders, was installed and given a short run. A new clutch was installed, but proved defective. Another new clutch was obtained and worked fine although I think I can take out the transmission and clutch and replace them blindfolded by now.

By April ‘79 things had progressed far enough to register the car and get it inspected. Early one Saturday morning we started the Plymouth up and headed for the inspection station 3 miles away. We never made it. In less than a miles a knock developed. Not knowing what was wrong, and not wishing to do any more damage, we rode home on the back of a flatbed wrecker.

We put the car in the garage up on ramps and I started to tear into the engine. All of a sudden, the car rolled off the ramps, out of the garage, and into the back of my everyday transportation. Minor damage to the Plymouth (no dents or scratches– just one bent bolt and a broken bar), but the Chrysler almost collapsed into a pile of rust. Getting the Plymouth back into the garage and properly secured, the engine was pulled. Number one rod was burned out for no apparent reason. The engine was further disassembled and it was found that the oil channels in the main bearings had not been opened up. No other damage was done. The rebuilder supplied a new rod and the engine was reassembled, installed and started. Still a knock. Good oil pressure, but still a knock. We pulled the engine apart again and still found nothing wrong. The third time, it was discovered that the wrist pin bolts were only finger tight.

Replacing the old bolts and torquing them properly, the engine ran just like a four cylinder Plymouth should.

Editor notes…

In 1980, when Alden wrote this story about he and his sister buying and restoring their Plymouth, Alden and Chris Barbieri were the editors of Wheel Tracks. Alden had also served as VAE president in 1977. I met Alden for the first time in 2013, when I took this picture for Wheel Tracks. It seems a hundred years ago. He told me in a very positive way that he missed his old cars and driving them, and had found collecting diecast cars was the next best thing. One of his two cats insisted on attention from me, the second just stood and stared at me the whole time. Alden assured me, with that great grin of his, that I was safe that the cat would not attack. We had a great talk that day.

Alden Charles Chapman
June 8, 1927 – May 23, 2016

Mark Your Calendar!

(Pictured above is our former Wheel Tracks editor, Gene Fodor, and his beloved unrestored 1953 MG TD, both ready for the 2011 costume event.)

The 66th VAE “Vermont Antique and Classic Car Meet” is on August 11, 12 & 13.

The Souvenir Tent

The Souvenir Tent has a new organizer this year……… Lester Felch has graciously volunteered to take over from Nancy Olney as she slowly steps away from her past duties.
THANK YOU, NANCY, FOR YOUR MANY YEARS OF VOLUNTEERISM!!

Lester is looking for volunteers to help him man/ woman the tent while the show meet is in progress. Would YOU step up and volunteer just a few hours of your time to sell the souvenirs? It’s a lot of fun. You get to meet many new people and watch the crowds go by. You can contact Lester at 802-793-7455 with any questions or just to sign up.

AND PLEASE DON’T FORGET…………FIELD SETUP AND BREAKDOWN:

Duane and others will be on the field from August 5th on, and they need you!! Lots to do, from pounding stakes to installing fencing and putting up tents. You don’t need to be there every day all day. Can you give a few hours of your time at some point that week? Duane and his crew will find something for you to do! It doesn’t hurt to give Duane @ 802-849-6174 a call to let him know you’re coming, or please just show up. Many hands make light work!

THE JOY OF JUDGING AT
THE VERMONT ANTIQUE AND CLASSIC CAR MEET
THE JUDGES’ CORNER

Keep in mind that some participants take the judging results very seriously, so you have the opportunity as a judge to make some owners very happy. Conversely, you can really tick off some people and the Judging Committee is likely to hear about it. In such a case, we give them your name and address (just kidding)! Overall, it’s a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning. And the food at breakfast is damn good.
We need more club members to step up and become judges at the Meet. You don’t need to be an expert on a 1910 Maxwell Sedan or a 1955 Studebaker President Speedster, but if you don’t know the difference between a 1910 Maxwell and a 1955 Studebaker, this may not be the volunteer opportunity for you. A discerning eye is essential (two discerning eyes are even better). We judge vehicles on both condition and authenticity, the standard being “as delivered to the selling dealer by the manufacturer.” New judges are always paired with an experienced one, so assistance on authenticity is available. Additionally, members of the Judging Committee and the Chief Judge are available for questions.
If you might be interested in becoming a judge, please contact Steven Carpenter, the Judging Coordinator, at stevenc1974@outlook.com or 802-343-3673.
Don’t forget about the free admission, free breakfast, free hat, and free model car for every judge (we might outdo Uncle Sam on free stuff)!
Mark Bennett, Chief Judge

Cars and Coffee Middlebury – May 2023

Middlebury’s season opener Cars and Coffee at the A&W had a great turnout!

After Cars & Coffee Tour – May 2023

After the May 20, 2023 Vermont Cars & Coffee gathering in Burlington, we went on a cruise and visited The Residence at Quarry Hill and The Residence at Shelburne Bay (pictured), as well as the Whitney Hill Homestead.

Cars & Coffee Vermont – May 2023

Pics from the May Cars and Coffee gathering at the University all in Burlington, Vermont.

1914 Cadillac Touring Car

This 1914 Cadillac Touring car began its life in Iowa Park, Texas when Ernst Goetze needed transportation. 

Today, it is garaged in Ludlow, Vermont. Brian Wood is now the Cadillac’s owner/caretaker. 

Mr. Goetze, an immigrant from Saxony, Germany, was a cattleman in Iowa Park, Texas. He had seen the two neighbor girls with broken arms and decided that any car he bought must have electric starting and electric lights. 

He turned down Chevys, Fords and Oldsmobiles until June 5, 1914 when Mr. Claspy from the Munger Motor Company in Wichita Falls showed him this Brewster green Cadillac. After a trial ride, Mr. Goetze bought the car and presented it to his two daughters, Lina and Frieda, on condition that they care for it and drive him wherever he wished to go. He had lost the use of his left arm in an accident with a horse and could not drive himself. 

The two Goetze daughters in 1970 when the Cadillac’s 2nd owner, Randy Harding, purchased it. 

With the car came the Dykes Visual Aids book, a creeper, trouble light, snow chains, tools and such accessories as the spring-loaded bumper and spare tire. It also had white tires. A garage was built for the Cadillac, and it was put inside on jacks after each outing. Miss Lina and Miss Frieda remember that usually Mr. Goetze would ask if they had set the jacks back under the car and admitted that sometimes they fibbed. 

Miss Lina told of returning from town and outrunning a rainstorm. “I stepped on it and we were really flying. My father was in the rear and, as I glanced back, I saw he was holding the rail in both hands. We flew all the way home and just as we rolled into the garage, the biggest rain you ever did see burst out. I knew he didn’t like my speeding, but Father never said a word.” 

Around 1920, the Cadillac passed her 100,000 mile mark and the Goetzes joined the 100,000 Mile Club. The daughters remember their dad often wearing the club pin. 

In 1926, the speedometer gave out and was taken to town for repair. The mechanic shipped it off and died two days later. It was never heard of again. 

About 1930, Miss Frieda was driving the family home from a rodeo in Electra, a village sixteen miles away. She remembered shouting “Look out. That cop is going to hit us!” Blam! A drunken policeman, on his motorcycle, had careened into the left front side of the car so that he blew out the Cadillac’s tire, bent the rim, ruined the fender and bent the bumper. No one was hurt and a new fender and rim were replace along with fixing the other damage. This was its only wreck. 

The Cadillac was retired in 1934 having never been outside Texas and Oklahoma. 

1914 cadillac touring car profile

Brian Wood estimates the car had about 150,000 miles on it when he purchased it in 2004. He is the 3rd owner. He has rebuilt the engine, transmission and rear end along with the many smaller needed tweakings. He was able to confirm many of the story’s details while working on the car. He found a bent front axel, most likely the result of the drunken policeman’s wreck. There were holes in the floor where the daughter’s heels rested while driving those many mile, and the back carpet was worn through from Mr. Goetze’s feet. He always sat in the back seat on the passenger side. 

1914 cadillac touring car fasteners

Brian has been completely through the car mechanically without changing any of its appearance, including the 109-year old leather interior. He says it was pretty much worn out. It might be hard to see these two examples of worn bolts to the right. Brian says there were many more. 

The car is fantastic to be around and unbelievable when you hear the story. BUT, when you hear the engine start and the car backs out of its garage, it transports you to 1914. The sound and sight will stay with you forever if you are an old car buff. 

Editor’s notes…..
A document with the above words was certified by Lina and Frieda. 

Ernst Ehregott Goetze was born September 15, 1843 and died December 11, 1936. 

Daughters, Lina Rose (1/26/1883-6/21/1978) and Frieda Martha (5/28/1889-12/7/1986) are buried near their dad in nearby Highland Cemetery. 

Going to the Dump

It was a Friday, and someone asked me what I had planned for Saturday. My answer was….going to the dump. Wasn’t that what everyone did Saturday morning? Not anymore, I guess. But being “old school,” that’s what was on my agenda to start the day. One of my earlier memories of living in Underhill was going to the dump. We did have a burning barrel, but you also needed to go to the dump, and this was before plastic bags were popular. The first Green Up Day had paper bags to use. I still have one in the cellar. Folks with enough land usually had their own dumps. There are a few on our property. One even has a few old car parts and a rusty car body. 

Going to the dump one morning shortly after we moved to Underhill, I met Ellie Cook, who was to become a good friend. She had a pickup truck with a dump body. Boy, was I envious! Our dump consisted of a bank where you threw your trash over the edge. People would go to the dump and shoot rats, popular sport back then. Every once in a while, there would be a fire and all the fire engines (trucks?) would head to the Dump Road to put the fire out. If you heard the fire whistle, if it wasn’t Tuesday at 7:00, chances are they were headed to the dump. 

I think our oldest daughter’s first word was “garbage,” and when Gael’s grandmother would come to visit when she was in her 80s and 90s, she always liked to ride along with us to the dump. In the late 80s, the selectboard was looking for someone to operate the bulldozer at the new dump location. By then, the dump had moved 

further up Dump Road and the garbage had to be buried. Knowing Gael could operate a bulldozer, he was asked if he could help until the town found someone permanent to do the job. He offered, and then every Saturday he would head to the dump with his truck. Like many of you, he collected stuff and brought things home that he could use. He eventually left the pickup truck home and started taking the Diamond T truck. 

A few months turned into a few years and the dump began being a gathering place for the locals. Arsen Potvin, or was it Marcel LeGrand, would bring a six-pack of beer and Ed Farmer would bring lunch. Wendell Metcalf was always there too. Gael would hang the American flag from a tree when he got there. And he started a 

garden where people who were getting rid of lawn ornaments and bits of outdoor things could place them. I think it was even fenced in. This is where a great deal of recycling happened. Recycling…….something people have been doing for generations! 

Eventually the town dumps had to close in the early 90s, I think. The rats scattered all over town and people moved on to the newer ways of getting rid of garbage. Many people have their trash picked up at their house for a fee or go to the recycling centers. In Underhill, there is a fellow who has a location on Route 15 in Jericho called At Your Disposal. He is open on Saturday mornings from 8 – 12. He has three dumpsters: one for recycling, one for trash, and one for metal. He has a place for food scraps too. He has lived in Underhill for a long time and knows everyone. Going there is almost a social event, like the old days. I get to visit him and anyone else that happens by, and if there is a bit of gossip to hear or pass along, that’s all good too. Gerry Adams is always there with a bag of cookies made by his wife Sue to give to Nate. 

So, to answer someone’s question What am I doing Saturday morning? You will find me at the dump, and I’ll check out what has been tossed into the metal dumpster. You never know what good stuff has been discarded by a neighbor. And WDEV even has a radio program Saturday morning called….”Music to Go to the Dump By.”