Wednesday, September 16, 2009

West Coast Crosley Club 2009 Meet in Buellton

This past weekend was the 25th Anniversary meet for the West Coast Crosley Club.  The location for the meet usually moves around, but this year we were back in the same location as last year, Buellton, California.
The turnout was good- we had 20 cars this year, and lots of people.  Though we've had a few more cars at one or two of the past meets, this was by far the highest quality turnout I've ever seen- all cars were in very good shape, and all but one ran... and that one just had a dead battery I think.
There was a very wide variety of cars too.  Dave Potts brought a nice prewar  from Arizona, there were two Farm-o-Roads, two Croftons, two Hotshots (one of which changed hands at the meet), a bunch of sedans, convertibles and wagons and of course our small but devoted Hmod contingent, this year consisting of Kip Fjeld and his Miller Crosley and Lee Osborn and his Shannon Special.   I opted not to bring my mystery Hmod this year- I haven't made much progress since last year, and besides, there was no room on the trailer.
No, I didn't buy another car.  

When Frank Bell passed away earlier this year I was very sad for his family- and I was very sad for the club. Frank and Shirley have been two of the most devoted members since the very first meet- the only one they've missed was in 2001 when they couldn't get back from Europe after 9/11.  I called Shirley a few weeks ago to see if she was going to be at the meet and she said that she and their daughter Donna would be there.  She also mentioned that Frank had planned on bringing the '50 wagon this year- he'd been bringing his Crofton Bug for years- but that she didn't feel comfortable hauling it to Buellton.  
Frank and Shirley had driven that wagon to the very first meet I ever attended, coincidentally also in Buellton, in 1997.  It is one of my favorite cars on the West coast, perfectly straight and serviceable, but road-rashed enough to drive without worry.  Wheels turned in my head as I talked to Shirley and I offered to find out if someone could trailer it over to the meet if she'd like to have it there.  She was happy at the idea, and I worked on finding the wagon a ride... in the end I realized that I could do it- my Crosleys have been to plenty of meets and Frank's wagon is WAY nicer than any car I would bring.  I called Shirley and arranged to pick up the wagon in LA on Friday.  
It took a bit longer to load the car and get from LA to Buellton than I'd expected, so I got in after 8 on Friday night. That meant that I missed one of my favorite parts of the meet- the Friday night get together.  I love having the chance to connect with old friends, many of whom I see only once a year.  Friday night also gives me an extra chance to remember the names of the new folks I meet- I'm terrible with names, so every little bit helps.
The meet started at 9AM, and though I was too busy getting the Bell's wagon off the trailer to be first in line at the swap meet I still got some good stuff including a steel crank, strapped main crankcase and a Special Interest Autos mag with a long feature on Ardell Johnson's '52 Crosley wagon.   I've known Ardell a long time but I never knew that he'd been in a magazine!  
The Funkana was great this year- with so many well-prepared cars it was downright dramatic!  Here's a look at David Dinsmore's Hotshot doing the speed trial/brake test:

After the meet wound down we met up for the club dinner at a local pub- the sunset and archetypal California backdrop made for great photos of the cars that drove over from the hotel.  
After the dinner I had to hightail it for LA.  I'd promised to be back in Sacto in time for Liv's birthday dinner with her family Sunday night.  As luck would have it, the meet fell on the same weekend as an annual art event that Liv helps organize, AND her birthday, meaning that there was no way for her to make the meet this year.  I got into LA around 1AM and got six hours of sleep before I started the process of getting the Crosley off the trailer.  It took a while to get the wagon on the ground and tucked back into the Bell's garage, but I was on the road to home by 9:30.  I was so glad to have been able to bring the car to the meet, and I think it would have made Frank happy too.
With the lower speed limit for cars with trailers, the drive from LA to Sac takes about eight hours with no traffic.  That was a lot of time to reflect on the weekend and plan the impending redesign of my garage.  In the middle of my daydreaming I spotted an unmistakable shape in the distance- Ardell Johnson's magazine-star '52 wagon on its way back to Oregon.  I zipped past, honking and waving, and made it home just in time for a shower before dinner.

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