Drew Sullivan's '56 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan
For sometime before the actual purchase occurred I was thinking of owning an antique car. Since I am not a spring chicken (or is it a turkey?) I wanted to even the score with something old and a good driver. A show car was not for me nor was anything that fit the "Trailer Queen" category. So, the search was on with help from my antique car owner friends and their friends. Then it happened! Welcome to the world of 1956 Fords!!
I bought the car in December of 2017 from a collector in Rhode Island with 62,401 miles and have done a few things-----new Coker tires, removed-plastic covers on original seats, upgraded ignition system to electronic and installed auxiliary gauges for oil, water temp, and voltage.
The Holly 4-barrel carburetor was replaced with an exact copy of the one on the car. The brakes were renewed, and automatic transmission adjusted and serviced. Also replaced the carpeting with correct color and style to match the original upholstery.
The history of the car is extensive. The car was purchased in May 1956 and driven until the end of 1957. The owner went into the service and was killed overseas. His mother put the car in storage and would not sell it until the middle of 1971.
The car was purchased and driven from 1971 to 1976. Again, the car was put into storage until 1980. The car was purchased again in 1980 and driven until 1985. Purchased on August 18,1985 with 53,100 miles, original motor, paint and interior. The car has been garaged since new. As stated above, the history is about the car and not my wife!
Driving any antique car always brings with it happy experiences and some not so happy. One particularly annoying memory was the wheel cover saga. Seemed like the wheel covers did not want to stay in place. There were numerous times my wheel covers passed me while on the road some ending up conveniently in a roadside ditch. Several unfortunately were run over and flattened into the perfectly round shape of an Aunt Jemima pancake!! Oh, I prayed many times to St. Anthony for help in this matter but remembered that lad only could assist in missing wheel covers! Now What? Seemed like, as they say, no light at the end of the tunnel. Only the light of an oncoming 132 car Memphis grain car train! The can of worms was thrown in for good measure this time (and higher blood pressure) because I was running out of wheel covers. Eventually I got results which solved the problem. The solution was found after some Bay State Antique Club and Crown Victoria Association members put their noggins together and realized some of the members experienced the same problem at one time or another. Just bend the metal tabs on the wheel covers! I Yes, I never leave the house without a pair of pliers.
Another quirk about this grey and white beast is that she "gets the hots" in extreme heat or in slow moving parades when temps are 80* with high humidity. She wants to throw steam and shut down for a break, but not in the best of places. Warm Temp parade days are avoided as a precaution.
My wife really does not want anything to do with my new toy. No air conditioning and a touch of oil from the breather cap and sometimes a whiff of high-test gas when she is accelerating cause of a little additive makes her not that interested in riding shotgun. I think she fears that I will not have enough time for her weekly "Honey Do List". Well, after all, every lady needs attention.
Many thanks and credits go to Fred Orlando, the first mechanic to help me when I purchased my 1956 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan and hadn't a clue. Also, Steve Peluso of Mendon, Ma. Who has extensive knowledge of the 19S0's cars. They both keep my 1956 gal running and looking original.
Submitted by Drew Sullivan, Dedham, MA
In your previous issue of FoMoCo Times, you asked for people to write in about their love for cars. We are new members and can't wait until the magazine arrives monthly. I would love to see our car on the front cover if possible. My husband would be so thrilled to see our car on the cover. He doesn't know I sent this in. Shhh ! Thanks.
This story is about my husband Roy and I (Mary Ann). We were childhood sweethearts since freshman year, who actually just lived across the train tracks from each other in Chicago Illinois. We both took a liking to the oldies very early in our lives. From the oldie songs to the great cars from way back then.
Until today, in our mid-sixties we just love that era. Actually, we dated 7 years before we married in 1977, and this year we celebrate 45 years.
We have had many antique cars. We started out with a 1966 Rivera, dark gray in color, then to a 1974 Pontiac Fire Bird Bright Red in color, which we purchased brand new. We attended a whole lot of car shows. Then, we purchased a 1957 Chevy 2 door 210 Hardtop. Boy did we have the fun with that car. We were even asked to display our 57 in the opening of the Harrah’s Casino in Joliet Illinois and were asked to drive our good friends’ parents on their 25th anniversary from home to church.
The expression “there’s a pair to draw to” is commonly used in the card game of draw poker. The expression is part metaphor and part poker rules. In draw poker you are allowed to draw new cards in exchange for old ones in the event the initial cards dealt weren’t to your liking. The other part, the metaphor, is any pair you would like to emphasize. That being said, this expression could also apply to two 1955 Fords owned by Jim and Martha Dillenschneider.
It has been said that life is a game and you have to play with the hand that is dealt you. And, to some extent, maybe there is some truth in that. However, if one chooses, we live in a Country that no matter what cards are dealt to us, with some hard work and Heavenly Guidance; we can achieve successes never imagined.
An initial card dealt to Jim was when his Mother purchased this Victoria brand new in 1955. He was eight years old when arriving home from grade school, was informed that his Mom was on her way home with a brand new car. As he waited on the front porch to see the arrival of the new car, what came into view was a two tone, white over red, two door Ford Victoria, equipped with white wall tires, V8 engine, dual exhaust, standard shift three speed transmission, and one of the widest smiles peering through the windshield that Jim had ever seen. Some of the neighbors, noticing the new car, began to gather to ask questions about his Mom’s new Victoria. Some of the answers to questions were; “if the transmission ever breaks, the standard shift versus an automatic transmission will be less expensive to fix”; “the red and white paint looks sharper than the other choices”; “the two door looks sportier than the four door”; and so on. It was a memorable moment.
As years went by Jim got old enough to obtain his driver’s license and since being the first of his siblings able to drive, the Victoria began to be referred to as “Jim’s car”. And, he was more than happy to assume the task of providing family transportation in “his car”. When not chauffeuring family or running errands, many adventurous miles were driven in the Victoria. A high school summer job that required driving the Victoria to a local hardware store to acquire supplies for the summer job provided a chance meeting of a very nice young girl employed by the store. She was not only attractive but was very knowledgeable about the store inventory as well. One or both of these qualities could be considered reasons for an increase in repeated store visits. You can decide. Martha was this young girl’s name. And, if you ever meet her she will enjoy telling you about refusing Jim’s first request for a date at the check- out register, and he forgetting to get his change for the purchase made. Was this frustrating for Jim? Upon realizing that he had forgotten his change could he assume she would think that the change was a gratuity for excellent service? Did he not want to acknowledge he had been shot down? Again, you can decide. HOWEVER, the second request for a date was accepted, and the first date Martha and Jim ever had was in the Victoria. More time passed as education and military commitments were completed by Martha and Jim. On June 26, 1971 Martha and Jim were married. As of this writing they have been married 50+ years, raised two sons (Mark and Scott), and enjoy being able to spend time together. As for the Victoria………read on.
Submitted by Larry Beadles, Levelland, Texas
In 1955, my older brother, who had been out of school a few years, owned a 1950 Ford Crestline. I thought it was the ugliest car I had ever seen. It was yellow and black and had a spotlight in the center of the grill. In early 1955 he bought a beautiful 1955 Ford Victoria. It was a solid color of snowshoe white. It had a 272 engine with a 2-barrel carburetor, standard with overdrive. Of course, there was no air conditioner. I thought that it was as nice a car as there could be. Soon after he bought the car, he had dual exhausts installed with "Smitty's" Mufflers. He also had new seat covers installed over the factory upholstery. At that time, that was a local custom. I never understood that oddball idea.
Shortly after he had purchased this Victoria, he invited me to take a trip across Texas with him. We lived in Brownfield, Texas, 30 miles from the New Mexico State line. We headed 600 miles east to visit our uncles and aunts around Sulphur Springs, Texas. I was around twelve years old and thought his Victoria was the coolest car there was. Then as we went through a small Texas town, there it was in show room of a Ford dealer, A 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, black and white!!! I thought it was the prettiest car that was ever built! It was as they say in the movies “like when you saw your first Trans Am!” I never forgot that Crown Victoria and pondered on that car for the next 55 years.
In the Panhandle South Plains of West Texas, it was rare to see a ‘55 Crown Victoria. One might be seen at a car show ever now and then but not often. We never saw any for sale. In 2010, a friend of mine had attended the Pate Swap Meet in Ft Worth and gave me the name and phone number of a fellow selling a 55 Crown Victoria project car. The owner lived in Jacksonville, TX.
My wife, Barbara, and I took a fishing trip to Lake Fork, in East Texas, approximately 50 miles from Jacksonville, TX. My wife had attended Jacksonville College in the 60’s. (She had been driving a 1950 Renault at 45 – 50 mph when she made the 600-mile trip in 1964.) So, it was a nice trip for both of us. I visited with the owner and set a date to check out the 1955 Crown Victoria. He had the ‘55 and two ’56 Crown’s that were projects. We made a deal on the ‘55 car. There I was pulling a boat, trying to figure out how to get the car 600 miles home. It’s a small world. The man that I bought it from was raised about 30 miles from my home and had family there. He was wanting to visit them and hauled the car for me at a discounted price. It all worked out very well.
After he delivered the car, my learning experience began. I started a frame off restoration, but I changed direction three times, which added to the cost. My recordkeeping was poor, and I had several duplicate orders. I needed to make a plan and stay with it.
It's not Victor, but the same model. Ford Victoria. It all started when I was 17 years old. In my senior year in high school in Napa, California. The high school football player who was my friend came to school one day with a yellow and white Victoria 1956. It was in 1961 when all of this happened. The car was five years old, and his parents gave it to him as a graduation present. It was a HOT summer day, and all the windows were down, and it was in pristine condition. I said to him, what a beautiful car. I did not have a car as my dad would not let me buy one even though I had worked as a kid and had saved $4,000. That was a lot of money back then. I could not buy a car as it was in a savings account and required both signatures to release the money. To say the least I was not happy.
To continue, I said to him “what a pretty two door hardtop” and he reached in and opened the door from the inside rear door and I almost fell over. He had welded off the rear door handles. Back then, as you all know, four door cars were not cool. I have never forgotten that day and I am 79 now.
I have had many cars, at some time I had a 1955 Chevrolet convertible, all stock restored, a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 1957 Bel Air, both who had four-speed 350 CC's. Both 1957 Chevrolet's were custom and even an edged two door. I have owned many cars - both drivers and collectors. I never bought my dream car, a 1956 Ford Victoria four door hardtop, as guys do not like four door cars. Well, at 79 years of age and have not had an old car for 12 years now, I present you with my dream car.
I know a lot of you will be disappointed in what I did to a nice 1956 Vicki, but this is my last car. It was really rough when I bought it.
I contracted a body shop in Eureka California. Where I now live and gave them an open ticket to do what I wanted. $6,200 later, I now have my dream. Tom, at California Body Shop in Eureka, California, did all the work. He cut up a 1954 Chevrolet grill and installed it, a great piece of work and very time consuming, molded rear handles, installed a 1955 Mercury taillight, and installed rear air shocker. Bought American Ford truck wheels, chromed all inside window and door moldings.
I had the car shipped from Connecticut for $2,400. When it arrived in that large truck, I fell in love with it. Overall, I have too much money in it, but it is my “DREAM CAR”, so I am finally happy. My folks had a Ford 1956 four door post. I hated that it had the pillar between the doors. Well, I am not much at writing about anything, but you presently encouraged me to write and send pictures of my car.
I hope all enjoy and for you purist stock fans, I am so very sorry that I did what I did but remember one thing it is my dream car, so be it. Enjoy yours as I am enjoying mine. The transmission and a 292 are stock and in great condition.
The 1956 Ford Victorias are so overloaded as the Chevrolet pulled back them as they do now.
William and Gwen Carlson
Is it love or obsession? Whatever, it began 55 years ago when at the age of 15, Hoppy bought his first 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible from his friend Joe Smoot for $100. This was his everyday driver car, which was a Snowshoe White exterior with Mountain Green and White interior. This car was driven for quite a few years until the “kids” messed it up.
If you know anything about Hoppy, back in the day, there was always swapping and trading of vehicles and engines; sometimes on the same day you bought one, and this happened on more than one occasion among friends.
About two to three months after the first 1955 purchase, Hoppy picked up a 1955 Ford Steel Top Crown, again for the bargain price of $100 at a junk yard. Another daily driver car that had exterior colors of Tropical Rose and Snowshoe White. Hoppy drove this one until he finally sold it and bought his favorite car.
Yes, everyone knows, Hoppy’s favorite car ever purchased in 1971 is his 1955 Ford Crown Victoria Glasstop with exterior of Torch Red and Snowshoe White. This purchase was made from a Volkswagen dealership in MD for $295, and became a daily driver for him and Kathy. (We will do another story on this beauty later and the 2 restorations and final full frame- off restoration)
Finally, after several 1955 convertibles in Hoppy’s possession, Hoppy and Bill Lindsey made a trade, and a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible came to Locust Grove, VA in 1992. More on this in a minute…
Also, in 1992 Hoppy made another purchase, and his Nationally known 1956 Ford Fairlane (aka “Just For Kix” or “Snake Car”) Yellow Pro Street Car was purchased and restoration completed in 1993. (This may also be another story later.)
Meanwhile back to the convertible purchase from Bill. In 1998, a full frame-off restoration began. The car did not go to the body shop until the end of January 1999. Some of the CVA attendees at the June 1999 All Ford Carlisle PA show were looking at some of the photos of the restoration process and inquired if the car would be ready for the 2000 CVA Convention. Hoppy’s response was “No”, “it would be at the 1999 Convention”.
Even with the busy time for Hoppy’s excavating business, it was literally finished with final parts assembled the night before leaving, and washed the morning of leaving and driving to the August 1999 CVA National Convention in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. I believe that is how all restorations, assemblies, and completions must be with these Ford guys!
The pink and black beauty is a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible with exterior colors of Coral Mist and Raven Black, and interior to match, and is an attraction gatherer especially among the ladies, prom attendees, and car cruise-in attendees. She is pretty underneath with her Coral Mist underbody and black frame. Top up or top down, she has seen heads turn at her beauty. She definitely attracted Hoppy’s 2nd love, Tonda, as a photo of him and Amber, the oldest granddaughter, was the first photo of Hoppy that Tonda ever saw of him. (That is another story you will have to ask about!)
Of course, driving all of the collection of 1955’s, 56, 63, 64, 65, and 66 are fun, but Hoppy’s true love will always be his 1995 Ford’s.
Today, you will find us enjoying life in a Ford somewhere; be on the lookout near you!
Hoppy & Tonda Hopkins
Submitted by Jay Baptista, Lynn, MA
Frank Sinatra had a hit song “The Second Time Around” that describes my two restorations. The first cost $77,419. The second cost over $20,000. Now the car runs great, after the second time around. BUT - I have $100,000 invested and I thought it would only cost $40,000. Silly me. Now the story.
One of my long-time desires was to possess a 1956 Ford frame-off restoration vehicle. My employer had one and I always thought it was soooooo cool. On Columbus Day weekend, 2006, I purchased a clapped out four-door Victoria hardtop for $4,500. With a highly recommended restorer, a 401K ready to bleed, I was aching to take the plunge.
Before reading any further, have a large Mango Pineapple Vodka over Sprite. If you don’t like vodka, go for a six-pack of beer. Then read about what I got for the first part of a $77,000 frame-off restoration.
The car was “finished” in 4 1/2 years. The pick-up date was June 5, 2011. The key was turned. Nothing! Dead battery! It needed a lightning bolt strength charge to be administrated just to get the starter to groan. Once the car was running, it moved very sluggishly outside of the garage. It was a 200-mile ride home. The transmission was slipping but slowly got into driving mode. Smoke poured out of the breather pipe all the way home, using up 1 1/2 quarts of oil. The first engine, a 312,went 724 miles and then was junk. One week or so later, the radiator burst and was unless. Then leaky wheel cylinders followed. Little did I realize that this was just the beginning of more nightmares to come!
Another four years has been spent replacing old parts not replaced or just trying to get things to work. On this list were items like door locks you could not lock, defective tie rod end, missing number plate bracket bumpers, faulty electronic ignition, large space between quarter panel and trunk, improper line-up of seat upholstery, faulty seat track, rear window which had both worn and bent parts to prevent it from being rolled up properly, radio static clip installed upside down, vent window push locks broken, missing pieces for window washer, tube missing and more.
The initial shake down trip was to the CVA Convention in Huron, Ohio. After passing Springfield, MA, very intense and heavy downpours were encountered. Guess what? No wipers! I could only get 1/2 sweep across the glass at a slow creep. Water poured through the windshield on the passenger side filling my shoes with water and drenching the floor. Due to the deluge, a couple of big rigs ran off the interstate onto their sides. I thought it was going to be the end. Boy, did I pray to St. Anthony (the Patron Saint of lost items). “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come on down. What is lost, let it be found”. (What was lost was my mind)! Fortunately, he answered my stress calls and got me out with my sanity.
How much did this little prize cost to be completely refurbished? The total for the first round was $77,419.36. Auntie’s inheritance is gone. Well sort of! I just have to look outside in the driveway every day. Then the day becomes bright and happy.
Better days certainly are ahead. Since then, the engine, transmission and radiator have all been replaced along with everything mentioned above. I had the second 312 installed in 2012 and it has gone over 7,000 miles without a hiccup. Yes, we are finally getting everything functioning properly but continue to find new defects now and then. So, the latest one-half restoration including the other aforementioned repairs cost over $20,000. This car has actually had 1 1/2 frame off restorations at this point and “I’m Broke!” However, now she runs so well!!
I have been to eleven National CVA Conventions, and lately have helped there with nighttime parking lot security and daytime parking. have driven this car to Huron and Dayton National CVA Conventions. In 2015, I placed second in the judged class. Of the over 100 cars in Dayton, there was only one other four-door Victoria-so they are rare. I have also won three trophies at local car shows.
In summary, I have learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (but sometimes it is the headlight of an oncoming train). I have learned that it is cheaper to buy a completed car than to have one built, especially if you don’t know beans about auto mechanics. I learned to be thankful for real help and expertise, including Paradise Citgo Swampscott, MA; Webb Electric of Danvers, MA; Tee-Bird Products; and many others for their “second time around” help. Like my last name, ”Baptista”, I have been baptized in old oil, shot bearings and loose wires.
Yet I have saved a piece of 1950’s Ford history. For that I have earned a throne in Ford heaven. I just hope old Henry will give me the proper respect. I also ask for a pat on the back from other Ford lovers, and two pats if you have had the same tribulations as I have had.
Submitted by: Al Rahn, Rocky Ford, Georgia
Victor came off the Louisville, Ky. assembly line on July 30, 1956. He was a proud platinum gray and colonial white on the exterior. His interior was Ford’s attempt in the summer of 1956 to attract younger buyers. It had a BX interior that was introduced in May. It had pink, black, and white door panels, with a coral mosaic cloth and vinyl seat cover. The four-door hardtop was considered a sport family vehicle by many at that time and was Ford’s first year with that model. They made 32,111 of them, but very few with the color combination that Victor had. He thought he was special.
Victor was ordered with the 312 cu. In. engine and Fordomatic. The only power option he had was power steering. Victor had no radio and no back up lights but did have the “Magic Aire” heater. He did not even have fender skirts; they were for girls.
How long Victor roamed the highways I do not know. But, at some point in time, he was bought by a lady who really loved PINK. (Maybe she worked for Mary K). Anyway, she painted the Victoria a sunset coral and colonial white. She also re-covered the seats with a pink brocade upholstery fabric. She was pretty and was now Miss Vicky.
Fast forward a lot of years to May 2016, when I saw her picture for sale on E-Bay. I downloaded all her pictures, including the data plate. When I saw that the original color was gray and white, I knew there was potential for a new life. Could that car be restored to its former glory? I wanted to know.
After coming to an agreement on price with the man who was selling the car for Pink Lady, my wife, Jane. and I loaded up the 2002 Ford F-150 and set out. We left Southeast Georgia and headed to Atchison, Kansas. Although the car was not running, I saw the potential and closed the deal. We rented a tow dolly and headed back to Georgia.
I spent a lot of time and effort cleaning her up before I took her to a mechanic friend, Ray Lariscy, who brought her back to life. I had back up lights installed at this time. Although she was running and pretty in pink, I still wanted to restore the car back to original with a few more improvements and upgrades.
At this point I totally stripped her down on the inside and took her to another friend to do the paint and body work. He said he could do it in his spare time at his paint/body shop. I ordered all the panels and parts he said it would need. Unfortunately, he never had any spare time.
Submitted by Phil Meek
For many years (decades?), I have wanted to drive the “Mother Road”, the Historic Route 66, from its westbound beginning in downtown Chicago to its terminus at the Santa Monica Pier in California. Established on November 11, 1926, Route 66 traverses eight states and over 2,400 miles. US Route 66, the subject of many books and magazine articles, a very popular song and even a television series in the 1950s-60s, was officially deleted from the US Highway system in 1985 after the mostly parallel interstate highway system was completed.
This past September, my brother, Gary, who owns two Studebakers, was going to attend the International Studebaker Drivers Club Conference in Indianapolis. Since Indianapolis is only a few hundred miles from Chicago, I approached Gary about heading north to Chicago after the Studebaker Conference, turning left at the beginning point of Route 66 Westbound, and heading to Oklahoma City for Part 1 of the long drive to California.
Gary was game! I started planning for the approximately 850 mile run from Chicago to Oklahoma City, purchasing 5-6 travel books and some maps specifically on Route 66. Why so many books? Because each book is different and often had gems that were not included in the other books, especially suggestions for iconic places to stop and visit, currently operating old restaurants and motor courts, business hours of establishments, historical information, different maps, etc.
I’m not going to dwell on the books, which I leave for your reading pleasure, except for some “lessons learned” on which books may assist you in your planning if you decide to drive Route 66. Specifically, a few of the books included hand-drawn maps of the local roads ahead. These informal maps proved invaluable because of the additional small detail provided, sometimes at variance with the published maps. However, the hand-drawn maps and the books themselves were not always accurate in providing directions, perhaps due to changes in the highway designations, current road construction and detours since the books were published. Keep alert!
Two popular books are: “Route US 66: Traveler’s Guide and Roadside Companion”, by Tom Snyder, and “EZ66: Route 66 Guide for Travelers”, 4th Ed., by Jerry McClanahan. But there are many more publications to consider. Don’t hesitate to highlight the books with your own notes about the various sites to be visited in days ahead, along with comments about sites you have visited, accuracy of the books relied upon, and corrections to the books and maps.
The internet is a wonderful source of detailed information for a Route 66 journey. Check out a super website, www.Route66RoadTrip.com, which includes satellite views of the Route 66 highway from Chicago to Santa Monica, with Route 66 highway markings as an overlay to the satellite photos. You can see exactly how Route 66 tracks the nearby interstate highways. The satellite photos also reflect information on hotels, restaurants, gas stations, sights to see, etc. Wikipedia has a very good, detailed 23-page history of Route 66 with photos.
Leaving Chicago: By far the most challenging part of the trip was the first day of the journey driving across Chicago. After paying a $40 parking fee for the privilege of parking 30 minutes in downtown Chicago to visit the Route 66 beginning /termination sign, we headed west. Trying to identify Route 66 highway signs on busy Chicago streets in heavy traffic, and changing directions on many streets through commercial and residential areas according to the directions in the books, was quite challenging. This is where a navigator becomes helpful, if not critical, in advising the driver in advance to be on the lookout for certain roads, signs or landmarks, and counting stoplights for turns. Especially while driving in city traffic, the navigator in the passenger seat often has a better view of Route 66 signs ahead than the driver, who is focused on driving safely.
Even with both Gary and me looking for the Route 66 signs on the long trek through Chicago, we missed a couple of them and had to either backtrack to the missed sign or identify alternate directions to rejoin Route 66. Several times after making turns, we would drive a mile or so before picking up the confirming Route 66 signs - - or not! It was much easier identifying the road signs when we got into the rural areas of Chicago and into the Illinois countryside.
Transiting St Louis, MO, on Historic Route 66 posed similar issues as Chicago as it took almost two hours to transit St Louis, rather than taking faster interstate highways around the city. Remaining on the old Route 66 through the big cities can add hours to your driving time for the day. Include that in your planning for places to stop for the night.
Another quirk about driving the Historic Route 66 is that there are often up to three variations of Historic Route 66 signs at an intersection, depending upon which “alignment” and certain specific years of travel on Route 66 to follow, e.g., 1930-1940, 1935-1945, etc. As towns and cities grew, and with improvements in highway engineering over the years, the designation of the roads identified as Route 66 changed through those areas. Even in rural areas, we found several alignments that changed over the years. Most of these multiple variations of Route 66 are not indicated in the travel books and signs pop up without notice on the highway. You have to make quick decisions as to which sign to follow. The good news is that generally any of the alternate routes will bring you back to the prevailing Route 66 down the road to continue your journey.
As for the driving experience of traveling Route 66, for me it took time to adjust to the old highway coursing over narrow, two lane, twisty roads at relatively slow speeds, 55 mph-65 mph for the most part. I’m used to fast traveling on interstate highways designed to get from point A to point B in the shortest period of time. By the second day, however, I was enjoying the more intimate driving experience on Route 66 that brought back many fond memories of family vacations in my youth when my dad was driving on these and similar narrow highways. Dad, mom, four kids, our Doberman Pincher and luggage were crammed into the station wagon. Many times, we drove through the night with snow, heavy thunderstorms, lightning and thunder (us kids loved it!). I remember how difficult it was to pass cars, especially through hilly and mountainous regions, or at night, and traffic would back up. Travel in the 1940s-1960s, before the interstate highway system was downright dangerous in retrospect.
Late September was a nice time to travel on Route 66. The weather was sunny and warm, and we had no rain. Driving through the countryside, the fields with hundreds of acres of crops on either side ready for harvest, or just after the harvest, came down to the ditches along the edges of the roadway. You could almost touch the fields they were so close. The Victorian farmhouses, the old barns and outbuildings, were much closer to Route 66 than those hundreds of yards, sometimes miles, away on the interstate road system. For anyone who likes the stately Victorian mansions of years past, following Route 66 through the towns and larger cities was a real treat. Many of the city streets were lined with stately restored mansions in the full variety of architecture and vibrant colors characteristic of the Victorian Era.
Along the way were many excellent Route 66 Visitor Centers and museums. In particular, Pontiac, IL, has an exceptional Route 66 museum, with several floors of photos, exhibits and memorabilia. Many colorful city murals adorn the buildings near the museum. The staffs at these museums were very familiar with the history of Route 66 in the local area, as well as highway directions. The gift shops at the museums, as well as the motor courts, restaurants, etc., were also very nice.
Stopping at historic eateries or small local restaurants around the town squares with the old timers was quite enjoyable, although their operating hours varied considerably. We were disappointed that some of the famous restaurants were closed when we arrived. Checking their operating hours online may be a good idea.
Another recommendation is to visit with other fellow travelers on Route 66, especially those who are coming from the opposite direction. Ask for traveler tips as to places to visit (or not visit), exchange information about incorrect directions given in the travel books, highway conditions, etc.
We stopped one night in Lebanon, MO, at the famous Munger Moss Motel, founded in 1946. It is well worth staying at the motel just to see the huge completely restored neon sign at night welcoming visitors. It also has a very nice gift shop. Can’t miss it. The delightful owner, Ramona Munger, regaled us with many stories of travelers on Route 66 since she and her husband purchased the motel in 1971. She was celebrating her 50th Anniversary owning and operating the motel, which she does by herself and one handyman.
Ramona informed us that travel by modern cars is the rule, and that she rarely sees classic cars traveling on Route 66 or staying overnight at the old motel. Very disappointing, but we found that to be the case. During the entire trip we only saw a single American classic car, a Model A custom hot rod roadster, driving Route 66 in Oklahoma.
On our last day on the road, we had breakfast at the famous Rock Inn, Stroud, OK, featured in the movie “Cars” and operating continuously since 1939. We also chatted up about 15 members of the British Triumph Auto Club from Edmund, OK, who drove their beautiful classic Triumphs to the Rock Inn for breakfast. From the Rock Inn, we pressed on to Oklahoma City, completing the first part of our journey on Route 66.
The traffic on Route 66 from Chicago to Oklahoma City was very light, probably because the interstate highways were generally within sight of Route 66 and carried the vast bulk of the East-West traffic. We never had a traffic backup on Route 66. During the entire 850 mile trip we only drove 25 miles on an interstate highway, and that was due to an error in a hand-written map in a book that we were following. The rest of the trip was on Route 66, although in many places the original road was replaced with newer road surfaces bearing the Route 66 signs.
It was a great trip, a step back in time, and the slower pace of driving was very enjoyable. Hopefully, Gary and I will finish Part 2 of our journey on Route 66 from Oklahoma City to the Santa Monica Pier in 2022. That trip will be longer and much more challenging.
Submitted by Travis B. Sheaffer, FoMoCo Times Editor
Just a week before the Lower Midwest Regional Meet, Upper Northeast Regional Director Jim Rock held his fall Regional Meet. On Wednesday, September 15th I put the ‘Do Not Disturb” sign on my office door and snuck out of the office to drive to Detroit to the airport. I arrive at Logan Airport in Boston a little after 8:00pm. I went to hail a cab and the cabbies that I had the opportunity to ride with were the scariest, most mobbed up guys in greater Beantown. It was Jim Rock and Jay Baptista! We made the short trip to their house and sampled some of the local wines.
On Thursday morning, I made a pilgrimage to the Dunkin Donuts down the block. Since we didn’t have any club activities planned for that day, Jim and I decided to take an adventure out to Spectacle Island in the middle of Massachusetts Bay. To start the adventure, we took the train to Boston Harbor. Once we got there, we boarded a ferry for the 30-minute ride out to Spectacle Island. The water was smooth, and the sights were awesome.
Spectacle Island used to be where the City of Boston deposited their trash. It was originally two islands. Several decades ago, the city and a bunch of volunteers cleaned up the island and made it into a nature preserve. Now both of the two original islands are one. Around the edge of the island was a couple of mile walking path where you could observe the foliage and get different views of the Bay. Jim and I spent a couple of hours walking around the island. We made it back to the dock in time for the last Ferry of the day to depart. We safely made it back to shore and took the train back to Lynn, Massachusetts.
Submitted by: Travis Sheaffer, FoMoCo Times Editor
I have never been to Kansas before. I have not been able to cross the state off my list of states that I have Geocached in. That was about to change. At the National Convention it Des Moines, Iowa this past summer, Regional Director Don Robertson whispered into President Toby Gorny’s ear that it sure would be nice if someone (me!) would show up and visit his regional meet in September. Always the adventurer, I saddled up and hopped a flight to Kansas City on September 23rd. Upon arrival I gathered my horse (in this case a Toyota) and began the four-hour trek to Manhattan, Kansas.
The landscape was beautiful and the campus in Manhattan informed me that there was a lot of smart people doing smart things in Kansas. I arrived at the hotel at dinner time, and I received a warm greeting by Ronna Robertson. She gave me the lowdown on the area and told me who the troublemakers were (you know I am talking about you, Carl!). I got settled and headed down to the Fiesta Buffett. At dinner, I saw my good friend Norbert Doll, as well as Curtis and Linda Johnson. Side note ~ If you haven’t met Linda, she is one of the nicest persons that I have ever met. It was at this point that I learned that Carl Cox was not the only person I needed to watch out for. I also needed to keep my eye on Jenny Lou Gattis. Whenever I attend a regional meet, I like to look for the people that are onery (like I am) and have fun with them. I had a lot of fun with the two of them. I really look forward to seeing them at future CVA events.
Friday was an action-packed day. We caravanned a short distance to the town of Wamego, which features the Wizard of Oz Museum. This town even had a yellow brick road! We toured the Wizard of Oz Museum as well as the Columbian Theatre and the Wamego Historical Museum. In the afternoon, we visited the Dream Car Collection Museum and it certainly lived up to its name. The assortment of cars in this building would have any car enthusiast drooling. I had to keep an eye on Norbert to make sure he didn’t drive off in one of the cars. Or maybe it was the other way around?
Saturday was another busy day. We drove over to Junction City and toured Ron’s Automotive. Ron had quite a collection of automobile and airplane memorabilia. One of the really neat things at his place was his display of the life and death of Jesus. Set on the backdrop of a hillside the path led to different scenes from the birth to the resurrection. It was powerful. We then toured the Geary County Historical Museum and the Starke House. I got back to the hotel just in time to see my Bowling Green State University Falcons beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers in football. What a great day!
To cap the event off we had our banquet on Saturday evening. The food and the company were fantastic. Jenny Lou even persuaded me to wear her tiara.
Sunday morning, I saddled up and made the trek back to Kansas City to catch a flight to Detroit where I picked up my car. This was a fantastic regional meet. If you ever get the chance to attend a Lower Midwest Regional Meet, I highly encourage it. The members that attended were awesome and I look forward to hopefully seeing many of them in Memphis this next summer at the National Convention.