The Lexington, Virginia Tour
August 10 - 13, 2006
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Click on thumbnails for full size pictures. Photos by Chuck Shaw except as noted.
August 10th dawned cool and rainy, a welcome break after an extended period of excessive heat. Fifty-four Model As from several starting points in five states headed for Lexington, undaunted by the weather. Our tour leader, Woody Williams, pumped air into a low tire at the rendezvous point, the Bob Evans near Dulles Airport, and we were off. He made it, barely, to Gainesville, where we met up with more club members and where 16 guys changed Woody's tire. This is not the type of photo I usually start these stories with.
The final count of cars: 54 Model A Fords, one 1928 Buick, one 1950 Ford, one 1966 Mustang, and five modern cars. There were 9 children, each of whom received a book on Henry Ford and door prizes appropriate for kids. Eleven car clubs were represented: Cape Cod, Active As, Southern Maryland, Greater Baltimore, Skyline, Blue Ridge, Cape Henry, Old Dominion, Colonial Virginia, East Carolina, and the host club, George Washington Chapter/Mount Vernon Region Model A Club.
We ate lunch in Charlottesville, and then went by Bob and Jane Wild's place out in the country to see their shop, cars, and a demonstration of soda blasting (instead of sand blasting) by their son Ben. The weather had cleared up at this point, and Jane's lemonade was most welcomed.
Bob's and Ben's cars in the background, visiting Model As in the foreground. Stand back for Soda Blasting! Unfortunately some of our group got confused by too many choices at a major intersection, so only about half of our club saw Wild's place.
Jane Wild gets thank you plaque from Woody. Ben Wild gets a plaque, and explains soda blast equipment behind him.
It was press on to Lexington now, so we could check out the town, check into the hotel, find out who's around, and relax.
Historic buildings in Lexington on the left. Checking into the Lexington Hampton Inn Manor House, an oasis in the middle of the city.
Thursday night was Registration, and drawing of names for door prizes. Everyone registered got a door prize, in value from a few dollars up to two $100 gift certificates for Model A parts.
Here Woody tries to explain a strange door prize drawn by Allison Tyler, as her three children look on. In the background are folks that have already registered, getting acquainted with everyone.
Registration was followed by the Pokeno Card Game, organized by Janet Merkel. This game is played for pennies, but they add up and things get pretty wild. There were two tables playing, so they had to have a shoot-off for grand prize.
Here you see the Pokeno Grand Champions, 6 year old Elizabeth Tyler and 10 year old Jordan Monroe, with their Grandma Edna looking on!
And below is the loser Pokeno table.
The schedule for events on this tour was flexible and it was up to the attendees to decide what to do and when, except for Woody's scheduled afternoon/evening events. On Friday, many of the folks took advantage of tours of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) arranged by local Model A owner Jim French. Others explored the town, and many of us visited one of the main attractions of this area, the Natural Bridge.
The view on the left, with Sandy and Clem, Karen, Kerri, Kate and Jack, Hope and Dan Danielson, and Clarice, is the view as you walk from the entrance building. The view on the right is looking back from the other side. George Washington supposedly surveyed this place, but what they say are his initials are about 25 feet straight up the rock wall, which seems like a strange place to put his mark!
Another view of Natural Bridge. On the right, 1931 s/w Standard Fordor, 1928 Tudor, 1930 Cabriolet, and Shaw, Clement, & Danielson families in front of the Natural Bridge main building, where you buy entrance tickets to the various attractions associated with the Natural Bridge, including the Toy Museum and the Wax Museum. Save your $5.00 on the Toy Museum, which isn't. Didn't see the Wax Museum, but was told it is not a museum of the history of wax; it is full of waxy dummies.
Also on Friday was the Era Fashion Show, hosted by Chief Fashion Judge Betty Swan of the Skyline Club. Having not attended, I'm not sure what all happened but I hear that it was a good competition with some contestants going "the extra mile" to win.
Edna struts her stuff! Phil McCormick photo
Left to right: Mike Grear, Best Dressed Gentleman; Susan Phillips; Suzan O'Neale, Best Dressed Lady;
Jim O'Neale; Edna Cross; and Allison Tyler, winner by popular vote of the Special Award (which turned out to be
a beautiful chicken lamp). Phil McCormick photo
Betty Swan receiving a thank-you plaque from Woody, for organizing the Fashion Show
and for her excellent and fair job of judging the entrants. Pop Williams, who always enjoys a good show, is watching.
` Phil McCormick photo
Friday evening was Drive-In Movie night at Hull's Drive-In, just outside of Lexington, Virginia. When the long term operators passed away, a man with a nearby business tried to keep the movie open, but after a year, called it quits. The folks from Lexington formed a non-profit organization called "Hull's Angels" to take over the drive-in and keep it open. They have been successful for a few years, now, with a lot of volunteer work and donations, plus the $5.00 per adult ticket money.
On the way to the drive-in movie.
Woody, Pop, Linda, and Ashley entering Hull's
Showing: The Lake House. Most guys did not understand this time-warp "love story"
but the ladies claimed they did! Sob, sob, sniffle.
The scene from the back of the movie grounds. By the time the movie started, there were about 45 Model As present, plus Jim's fine 1928 Buick, seen at the left end of this line, Bob's yellow Mustang, a couple more older cars that I don't remember, and Karen's minivan. There were lots of children there, several from the tour, and lots of local families.
NBC News interviews movie-goers; see the video clip on another page. Bob Wild's yellow Mustang did not make the cut.
A few of the front row of Model As. Photo on the right shows the front of the cars in the back row, seen above.
Jon and Susan have a pre-movie snack. On the right, Jim and Carol get ready for the movie.
Gil and Charlene. On the right, Pink Cadillac and Bobbysoxers.
(Or is it the other way around? Naw, Gil still waits for Elvis.) Photo on the left by Denny Mills
This drive-in really has a great snack bar. It is behind the projection machine, like it is supposed to be, and it looks like something out of the '50's, because it is, but they make real Hamburgers, and real Corn Dogs, and pour lots of colored syrup on the Snow Cones, and pop the Popcorn fresh. In true drive-in style, we stayed through the first feature, and through the intermission, and just the start of the second feature. That is essential so that you can make up some stuff to tell your folks about both movies. Then you slip out in the dark and take advantage of the time for the second feature to be alone with your honey on some lover's lane somewhere. Which is just what we did, except we being growed up, took our honeys to the Hampton Inn Motel!
Well, that was all great fun, but not too Historical, so on Saturday some of us got serious and drove up to the Cyrus McCormick Farm to see the site where the McCormick reaper was invented. For those of you not knowledgeable about mechanization and automation, the mechanical grain reaper was an invention of tremendous world wide impact, eliminating or reducing starvation in many countries, and multiplying the amount of crops that could be grown several-fold. It was the exact opposite of weapons of mass destruction, if you can follow that analogy. Well, the beautiful old McCormick Farm is now owned by Virginia Tech, and operated as a research farm, with a few acres set aside to preserve the Manor house and the buildings where Cyrus worked, and as a memorial to him. There is no fee, no docents, no guards, no wax museum, but nice restrooms. Original artifacts, a replica of the original reaper, signs and posters, and one recorded message tell the story. Definitely worth a visit, but there is only one small sign on the highway so this is difficult to find.
Cyrus' blacksmith shop/foundry and McCormick grain mill. That's Bill and Karen looking at the farm machinery.
Original forge, where the parts for the reaper were formed.
Replica of Cyrus McCormick's first horse-drawn reaper. Models of later versions
are in the case to the right.
This is the end of Section One.
Section Two is on a separate page, and covers the Manifold Cooking Contest, Ice Cream Social, and Awards presentations.
Click here for Lexington Tour Story, SECTION TWO