View Full Version : Hershey

10-12-2008, 06:21 AM

This is the eve of the 2008 AACA Eastern Fall National Meet in Hershey, PA. Iíve been attending this meet since 1968 or Ď69. Most likely I attended first in Ď68 because that was the year I bought my first old car, a 1928 Buick Model 28-58 Five-Passenger Coupe. That means I have been pursuing a dream off and on for forty years. Perhaps not with the Buick, but definitely with the 1926 Model T Ford closed cab one-ton truck that I got in 1969, I dreamed of one day driving a restored antique onto the show field of Hershey. When I bought the Buick I knew absolutely nothing about auto mechanics or restoration. When I got the Model T, I started buying books and manuals. I even changed my college major to secondary education in industrial arts with a major concentration in power mechanics. I didnít want to teach auto shop; I wanted to learn auto mechanics to further my hobby.

With the vagaries of married life, child rearing, house building, relocating to different geographic areas, jobs, jobs, and more jobs, old cars for a long time took the proverbial back seat. Along the way, I also set aside the dream of winning an AACA national first prize, perhaps cynically saying it wasnít important. In the grand scheme of things, it isnít important.

But here I am on the eve before the Hershey meet with our 1954 Studebaker Commander Starliner hardtop Ė restored, primed and polished Ė in our garage. Tomorrow morning brother Bob and I will drive it to the show grounds and enter it for judging in Class 27A for 1954 and Ď55 production cars (Ď55 Chevies excluded). Can the car score a 1st Junior award? For sure I donít know, but it was awarded a first place in Division 4 at the 44th Annual Studebaker Drivers Club International Meet in Lancaster, PA in September with 394 out of 400 points. AACA judges have a different standard by which they judge, but the minimum number of points for a 1st Junior is only 365 out of 400. So after the dream was born 40 years ago, and after a ten-year restoration, the dream might just come true.


Iíd say that like a kid, wide-eyed with anticipation on Christmas morning, I was up long before the sun, but in truth, it was our old dog, Molly, who got me up so she could go outside. I went back to bed and tried to sleep, but I couldnít, so I got up, showered and shaved. Around 7 AM, I got Bob up. The other hounds, Emmy and Maddie, awakened Cathy. Soon, Bob and I went out to the garage, uncovered Grace, and headed down the road on our 4-mile drive to Hershey. There was a bit of mist in the cool air. The morning sun was still low enough in the sky that it peeked under Graceís sun visors. People were lined up all along the fence behind the Giant Center, many in lawn chairs to watch the entry of the show cars, many with cameras. I resisted the urge to wave. I was a bit peeved by all the officials who wanted to see our registration packet with the big ďR-13Ē on it that indicated we were to drive on the right side of the show field to row thirteen. I knew where I had to go; I had studied my map repeatedly on Thursday when I picked up my registration. More people, more cameras. Many of the trees surrounding the show field were beginning to show their fall colors, and the early morning sun casts the place in a golden glow.

Upon parking the car, Bob and I unloaded all the requisite stuff that you always have in the trunk of your car Ė the chairs, the California car duster, the Windex, the bag of tools, the jumper cables. Then I went around Grace with a paint brush and a little bottle of Testorís black paint and touched up the spots that needed it. Round two was the little bottle of red paint. Then I called Cathy to pick us up for breakfast at Bob Evans in Hummelstown.

Around 9:30, Cathy brought Bob and me back. Cars were still coming in, but the field was crowded by now. Time for the California car duster. People were already looking at all of our cars. Leonard Shepherd stopped my to introduce himself, snap a couple of pictures, and wish me luck. Bill

10-12-2008, 07:07 AM
quote:Originally posted by alanmende

First Junior, 1954 Studebaker, Alan Mende.

Itís 5:30 Sunday morning. I canít sleep anymore. Holy cow, the dream has come true.


Congratulations Alan!! And a great story also....worthy of being in Turning Wheels.

Winston-Salem, NC
Visit The NEW Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

Bill Pressler
10-12-2008, 07:21 AM
Congratulations Alan! Good to meet you, if briefly, yesterday on the show field! Your car is beautiful beyond description!

Bill Pressler
Kent, OH
'63 Lark Daytona Skytop

41 Frank
10-12-2008, 07:51 AM
I agree with Paul, your story is worthy of being published in TW Alan, why not submit it?

Frank van Doorn
1962 GT Hawk 4 speed
1963 Daytona Conv
1941 Champion R-2 Rod

10-12-2008, 09:44 AM
Great dream, great win, and great writing. Thank you very much.

'50 Champion, 1 family owner

Dick Steinkamp
10-12-2008, 10:02 AM
Congrats, Alan! Quite an accomplishment. Hershey is truly the "Big Time"


Dick Steinkamp
Bellingham, WA


10-12-2008, 10:13 AM
I am glad to see that the judges recognized what a beautiful car you have. Nice payoff for all your hard work.
George Rohrbach

10-12-2008, 10:51 AM

Thanks for the great story - I could feel your anticipation and your pride!

Congratulations - your dedication and hard work have paid off handsomely.

10-12-2008, 10:59 AM

Nice talking with you yesterday (I was the guy who asked you if this was "Grace") as you were removing the PA plate. Your car is beautiful and truly deserves the award. And a great story!

Frank Philippi

10-12-2008, 11:50 AM
Wow, after seeing all the near perfectly restored cars yesterday, I can see why this was a dream come true for you. The AACA does a great job boosting the hobby. I hope because of your win you do not stop driving your car and allowing others to enjoy it almost as much as you do. What you have done is monumental as there were many Studebakers at the Hershey show. I truly enjoyed all of them and yes your story should be in TW.

Studebakers forever!

10-12-2008, 12:00 PM
"I agree with Paul, your story is worthy of being published in TW Alan, why not submit it?"

Yes, Alan, why not?

10-12-2008, 05:46 PM
:) Ditto all the previous congratulations, Alan. I remember admiring the car at Lancaster; a beautiful job and worthy of the awards. :DBP

10-12-2008, 11:12 PM
Congratulations Alan. And a great story about how you stuck to your goal and how it paid off.

'59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop

10-13-2008, 05:24 AM
Very cool... the story and the win.

You have an excellent command of the language. Kudos on your writing skills!


Clark in San Diego
'63 F2/Lark Standard

10-13-2008, 05:47 AM
Add my congrats as well. Well deserved!!

Robert (Bob) Andrews Owner- Studebakeracres- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys!)
Parish, central NY 13131

"Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions"- 311

"Do they all not, by mere virtue of having survived as relics of a bygone era, amass a level of respect perhaps not accorded to them when they were new?"

10-13-2008, 12:34 PM
Thank you all for your kind words. Yes, I will submit my story to Turning Wheels.

Kindest regards,

Alan Mende
Hummelstown, PA

I'm not a mechanic; I don't even play one on TV.