Once again early September saw nearly 30 Early Times-era Pontiac and Oakland automobiles on the highways and byways of central Ohio for the “Flathead Reunion”. The decision to return to Zanesville for the second edition of the Early Times Chapter event was made last year before the inaugural event was concluded. The event committee was overwhelmed by the favorable response of everyone in attendance and we realized it was imperative to announce that we would do it again the next year to maintain the excitement and momentum the event created.
The early planning regarding an ETC chapter event focused upon the format it would follow and also whether it would be an annual or bi-annual event. There was some discussion about having it alternate between the east and west every year with the practical result of being bi-annual for the majority of members. This plan hasn’t been ruled out by the committee and we will entertain any offers or suggestions from ETC members; you only need to contact Andi or me and we will take it from here.
The event format followed last years’ successful pattern of seminars all day Thursday while a shopping tour ran concurrently for any spouses that wished to make the trip. We were pleased to have John Sawruk in attendance this year as our featured speaker for the seminars. John first spoke of the ’51 Pontiac his father bought new and how that car was instrumental in his career path to become an engineer for Pontiac Motor Division. He also spoke about modern gasoline, motor oil and the necessity of replacing all of the synthetic rubber components in our cars to the latest specification materials to prevent today’s gasoline from deteriorating the older products and causing a failure, or even worse…a fuel fire.
Lukey offered a power-point presentation on rebuilding a compound fuel-vacuum pump that many of our cars are equipped with; while I brought the special tools necessary to properly rebuild Carter carburetors and the grease equipment needed to lube rear leaf springs with metal covers intact.
We had many lively discussions with nearly everyone in attendance speaking up with excellent information to offer the group. If you don’t leave the “Flathead Reunion” seminar having learned a great deal, you weren’t paying attention! The final seminar on Thursday was the period costume seminar and Lois Landvoigt again did a tremendous job; Marjo Prinzing, Charlene Roach, and Carla Wise also contributed to the seminar and answered questions. If I’ve forgotten to mention anyone, please forgive me…my notes got pretty vague by the end of the day.
John rode with Andi and me to the summer cook-out at Thomas’ home that evening and he commented to us that he thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed schedule of the seminars and learned a number of things he hadn’t known. Everybody has something to contribute at the “Flathead Reunion”…even if you don’t think you do!
The cook-out Thursday night at the home of ETC members Ron and Betsy Thomas was the perfect end for the first day; it gave us a chance to renew old friendships and make new ones. The driveway and side yard were filled to overflowing with old cars and the food was delicious.
We lined up on Friday morning for the road tour; Paul and Marjo Prinzing rode with us in the ’53 Chieftain as they couldn’t bring a car this year. We lead the tour so I didn’t see who was riding with whom; but everyone that wanted to travel in an old car was able to do so.
Our first stop was the National Road Museum where we learned just about everything there is to know about historic U.S. 40. The photos that were on display showing the road as a sea of mud even into the early 1920’s demonstrates just how good we’ve got it today.
Then it was westward bound on U.S. 40 toward Newark and the Dawes Arboretum, with a stop for lunch at one of several places along the route. We weren’t sure how the tours of the house and grounds at Dawes Arboretum would be received but it was our best destination within a reasonable drive of the host hotel. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised that everyone seemed to enjoy the tours; it was a refreshing change from anything automotive and the weather was picture perfect for our visit. We were split into 2 groups; the first group taking the “train” and touring the grounds while the second toured the Dawes home on the property.
The road tour “officially” ended at the Arboretum, so everyone made their own way back to the host hotel in small groups as they chose too. We intentionally don’t plan anything for Friday night so people can relax and do what they want to do. We went to dinner with the Lukens and Kerry Klotzman at a place we wish we would have found last year…the food and the service was great and we had a wonderful time.
Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful; a perfect day for the Show & Shine feature of our event, held at Zane’s Landing Park along the banks of the river right downtown. The Show & Shine is fun because of the relaxed atmosphere; cars can be parked in any order and displayed to the owner’s satisfaction. The majority of us were in period costume relative to the year of the car we’re driving; most of us also had period correct “accessories” that you would have been likely to see; picnic hampers, thermos flasks, cameras, road maps, portable radios or phonographs, lawn chairs etc.
We don’t judge cars at this event, we enjoy them and talk about them and show them off to anyone that shows an interest! Mainly we circulate around ourselves and get to know the other participants; each of us admiring the other’s car and display in turn. There are 4 awards available for the Show & Shine participants; Long Distance Driven, Long Distance Trailered, Best Pre-War Display and Best Post-War Display. The committee decided to split pre and post-war between 1941 and 1942 because the ’42 through ’48 cars are so similar. The best display awards are decided by participant vote and we are looking at the total package that is on display; the car, the costumes, the accessories and how everything is set out for display. We do it to have fun and so far, it seems to be working very well.
Our “awards” ceremony is a bit different as well; we celebrate it over coffee and dessert at the host hotel. The participants are “on their own” following the Show & Shine and again have the opportunity to dine with friends…old or new! The committee felt that we didn’t want to plan everyone’s time from beginning to end; we’re all adults and know how to look after ourselves.
There were some car troubles this year; some of them major. Andy Wise was pretty certain his ’26 Pontiac broke a piston on the road to the Arboretum. John Armstrong’s ’26 Oakland suffered a broken ring gear when he tried to start it after lunch; while Ron and Betsy Thomas actually suffered the first serious casualty when their ’29 Pontiac broke a valve spring and cam follower Friday morning as they were driving to meet us at the host hotel. We had a new couple with a ’27 Pontiac that was suffering from fuel delivery problems; Andy Wise worked on it with owner, Dwight Ford, on Thursday evening and again on Friday evening. I believe that Kenny Roach was also part of the repair party in the parking lot. It was a tough year for the twenties-era cars as they all succumbed to mechanical troubles. Kenny and Charlene Roach had the oldest running car to make the tour with their ’31 Pontiac coupe. I believe they returned early to help Andy and Karla Wise with the ’26.
I have to say that Arn and Lois Landvoigt’s ’26 Pontiac “Hillclimber” didn’t suffer any mechanical troubles but it also isn’t roadworthy for a 30 mile trip since it’s conversion into a “competition” car.
Tom Cox was another new participant at this years’ event; and is also a relatively new member to ETC. He recently acquired a ’41 six cylinder coupe that he and Arn Landvoigt have been working on. He drove to Zanesville from Maryland and back again. The only abnormal aspect of this trip was that his oil consumption worked out to about a quart every hour!
The 3rd installment of the “Flathead Reunion” will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan next September 6, 7 & 8. It’s not too late to begin planning your trip! We will have caravans running from several points; the Lukens will bring anyone along that wants to meet up with them. The Landvoigt’s, along with Tom Cox, will be traveling east out of Maryland and possibly meeting up with Andi and I here in north central Ohio for the journey to Michigan.
You owe it to yourself to attend if you possibly can…the “Flathead Reunion” is the most fun you will ever have with your classic Pontiac or Oakland.