It was October 1998 when eight antique car hobbyist (Daniel Zumstein, Kenneth Lanter, James Jones, Charles Reynolds, Billy Ray Cogburn, Perry Barnett, Bruce Wood and myself) left Swannanoa, NC on a four day weekend, attending the largest antique auto flea market in the world. Yes, Hershey, PA was the destination. Leaving Swannanoa in a GMC Atlanta, GA city bus that owner Ken Lanter had converted into a motor home, the only thing on our minds was enjoying rummaging through the flea market. Of course enjoying each other’s fellowship and the tall tales spun would be a plus.
The fall weather here was great, but as we chugged further up Interstate 81 toward Hershey, PA the more the clouds gathered and the darker they became. Crossing the state line into Pennsylvania we found what every old car hobbyist dreads, yes RAIN. It had been raining all day there. Those who have attended Hershey in recent years know it is all paved now. However in 1998 it was grassy fields with dirt roadways. Now you are getting the picture. Arriving at the campground where we had reservation for parking the bus, we had to convince the parking attendant that this huge bus required parking on higher ground than they had planned for us. Finally, after finding a suitable but still questionable area we began settling in for the evening. Everyone with their fingers crossed and hoping the rain would subside retired to their bunk or sleeping bags.
Early Thursday morning Ken woke us all with the aroma of coffee brewing, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. This became the norm for the entire weekend. I might add much better than the free breakfast at any hotel. Lunch consisted of a sandwich and snack. For dinner we would catch a slack period in the rain and walk across the street to local restaurants. One of those evening dinners at the Red Robin left a lasting impression on everyone. Perry Barnett ordered a Hamburger when he went to pay the bill it was $6.00, he being use to McDonalds prices couldn’t believe a hamburger costing $6.00. He didn’t let us forget about it all weekend.
Oh! I forgot to mention the name Ken had given our headquarters (bus) “DINO DIGGER”. Ken used the bus traveling to marketing event for his invention of a motorized shovel used in the nursery industry.
Surely by now you are wondering if the rain had stopped, answer NO. It rained all night Wednesday and all day Thursday. Occasionally the rain would slack up enough to lure some of us out onto the flea market. Only a couple used their common sense and did not make the gallant attempt to negotiate the flea market. Those of us who did returned soaked and mud up to our boot tops. Navigating the mud and dodging the rain was more of an obstacle than a challenge. Therefore we found ourselves cooped up inside the bus most of the weekend reverting to chit chat, spinning tale tales and sharing experiences, one of which was in the making. I think it was sometime on Friday during all our conversations Charlie Reynolds suggested we form a Model A club in WNC. That conversation consumed most of the weekend from that point on. Since I knew a few folks in the AACA organization everyone was looking at me to pursue that opportunity. Little did I know that I only knew enough to get myself in trouble. Thus the seed was planted, you know what happens when you plant a seed in moist fertile soil it germinates and grows. Did I mention that it RAINED all day Friday too. Saturday morning, last day of the event we woke to more RAIN. But as the ringmaster says the show must go on. I have never judged at an event where it rained so much. However during the day I had the opportunity to talk with AACA President Ton Howard about the possibilities of forming a Model A club in WNC. Tom suggested that I contact the already established Land of the Sky Region in Asheville, NC. He said they were struggling and we might be just what they needed to keep them going.
Upon the return home I followed up on Tom’s suggestion. When speaking to some of the few members left in the Land of the Sky Region it soon became evident to me that there was too much baggage to deal with and that the organization had made the decision to dissolve. Going back to Tom with this information, I was instructed to contact Earl Muir VP Regions & Chapters. Earl was very helpful and furnished all the requirements and application for becoming a Region of AACA. You have to have fifteen members all being AACA National members and the application had to be turned into Earl by the middle of January. Earl had to have it in his hands prior to the Annual National meeting in Philadelphia so he could present it to the Board for approval. The other hurdle that had be crossed was our region would be within 50 miles of another already established region, the Transylvania Region in Brevard, NC. We have to acquire a letter of approval from them to accompany our application. My next two months was consumed getting the necessary paperwork completed and in the hands of Earl prior to the Board meeting. Tom and Earl both gave me little chance of getting everything accomplished in the short period of time I had. Little did they know that there were already thirteen members ready to sign on.
Our application was completed and turned into Earl Muir, VP Regions & Chapters January 27, 1999. The application included 27 Charter members, Stephen & Donna Hunter, Hulon & Linda McCraw,*Al Gramlick, Van & Mary Geouge, *Guy & Jewel Gilbert, Charles & Deana Reynolds, *Daniel & Virginia Zumstein, *Norton & Pamela Elder, Robert & Betty Delwiche, Kenneth & Carolyn Lanter, *Claude & *Priscilla Taylor, Bruce Wood & Karen Shea, James & Beverly Jones, Bob & Phillis Earley.
At the AACA Annual Meeting in February 20, 1999 the Board of Directors approved our application and presented our Charter to the Great Smoky Mountains Region of WNC.
GSMR Board Member
GSMR Board Member
GSMR Board Member
New Member Liason
BRCC Event Chairman
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