Taking Home all the Marbles

Part 3

Our first Club event in 1989 was the Cleveland Auto Rama. As always move in was early Thursday morning. The show opened at 6pm, Friday Feb. 3rd and ended Sunday Feb. 5th with the Awards ceremony.

Our theme was a Gasoline Service Station built to one half scale size. It was a 50’s style building complete with a real Gas Pump, a Coke Machine ( thanks to Bob Zito) and an Air Tower ( used to inflate tires). We had a Gas Station bell that would ring whenever someone stepped on the rubber hose. Are you old enough to remember the bells at the corner gas station?

Keven Wallenhorst and Chuck Homolka made an 8 ft. high gas station type pole sign. Our Club name and logo, four feet in diameter, was the station brand. Designed in November of 1988 our club flag would be unveiled for the first time. These two items were displayed at nearly all of our Club events long after Auto Rama ended.

We retired the sign when it was too worn to display. Our original flag is still proudly displayed next to the American flag at our monthly meetings. We had crowds of people watching our Club video the entire 3 days.

All ten cars that entered took home trophies. The Club would win Cleveland Auto-Rama’s “Best Club Display” and the “Best Club Display” from the Michigan Hot Rod Association. Pictures of the winners and trophies are in our club photo albums. See Sam LaNasa our Club Historian. His picture receiving a trophy along with George Bartos is in there. George’s Corvette received a second place award, and was featured on Channel 5 news that weekend. A short time after the show George had a heart attack and had to undergo a triple by-pass on Feb. 25th 1989. He was back and active until he left us suddenly on April 25th 2006. He will be missed by all that had known him.

To help cover operating costs we (Club) would start to charge for displaying our cars or taking part in parades or shows. We would also provide displays or parade vehicles to cities free of charge in return for their support of our club.

Our first Cruise of 1989 was held on Tuesday April 25th at Pal’s. It was a warm night which was responsible for bringing out a large number of cars. The weather would not be as kind the rest of the year.

May 7th we took part in our first parade in Cleveland. It was a yearly event held on Fleet Ave. I left home as the rain turned to snowflakes. Things dried out by parade time but it was cold. The crowd loved our 12 parade cars and asked us to return for several years.

May 20th found us teamed with Fastlane Promotions, to help put on the first Musclecar Nationals at Norwalk Raceway Park. Saturday was a car show and swap meet. 48 club members showed up at 7 a.m. that day to support the show. The early rains on Saturday failed to dampen our spirits. We were back Sunday where the pristine showcars were transformed into tire burning supercars. The show was covered in the Muscle Car Classics Magazine. The record breaking rains were mentioned, but my favorite part of the article remains the part about the able-bodied RNRCSM's and the shows success. Once again we were asked to return the following year.

Our Third annual car show came on May 28th at Aurora Road Elementary school behind Pal’s Drive-In. We had a total of 127 registered cars. That was a good showing in those days. We also had over 500 paid spectators pass through our gate. The gate was the Auto-Rama Gas Station turned into a show entrance.

All the lady spectators were given ballots and asked to a select a Ladies Choice Car. We also had a Mayor’s choice award and the usual car classes, 1st to 3rd place and Best of show.

The City of Solon held it’s first Strawberry Festival on June 3rd and 4th at the new City Community Park. Our 20 display cars went home early because of rain, much rain. It was too wet to return the next day.

Remember the Flats? In it’s heyday it was the place to be seen and have fun. On June 18th we displayed 12 cars at Nautica. The event was the Stroh’s Heritage Days Festival. Our cars were arranged around the fountain in front of Club Coconuts and Shooters. We were the focal point of the festival. Mystery Cruise ? Car Rally ?? Heat Wave!!!

On June 25th we embarked on a one hundred mile odyssey. The temperature was in the 90's. We were looking for clues that would earn us points and guide us to a restaurant ( Angelina’s) for dinner, awards and a Club meeting.

Thanks to radio station WERE 1300 AM (our new sponsor) we had prizes of a T.V., C.B. radio, box seat tickets to the Cleveland Stadium and tickets for Geauga Lake Park. Bob and Sherri Hamm put the flawless event together. Four members of the Restored and Radical Car Club volunteered to man the check points along the route. That freed up all our members from the work load. We rewarded the R & R members with dinner and door prizes.

On June 30th at Garfield Hts Home days 23 Club cars were displayed at the city park. On July 4th five cars represented our Club in the Bedford / Bedford Hts, Parade. We never charged for this event. That didn’t stop the people from awarding us first place of $150 for our car display.

July 9th found us working overtime. Sam La Nasa, Lee Henshaw and myself Joe Artale, escorted a series of 6 and 10K races throughout the City of Bedford Hts. We used our classic cars to lead the runners along the race route.

That same day the Vietnam Veterans held a car show at Ganley Mazda. 11 of our members supported this effort, while a third group of members supported the Kiwanis in Streetsboro for their annual car show.

July 22nd was a perfect Saturday night, I was lead car of 14 cars on a cruise through the Chagrin Valley ending at Dairy Island on Rt. 422, east of Chagrin Falls. We were joined by the late comers for food, ice cream and miniature golf.

The people at Dairy Island welcomed us with our name on the Marquee one week before the event and a discount on food and miniature golf. It was funny watching big strong guys with all their knowledge of physics and science trying to beat the “little lady” Jeanie Chresos holding her purse and eating an ice cream cone. She even made one shot without looking.

On July 27th, a Friday evening we displayed 27 cars at the Bedford Hts. Home days. This was our way of thanking the city for their support and providing us with a place to meet at a discounted price.

We teamed up with the Northern Ohio Street Machines Car Club to co-host a car show at Brunswick Lake. We started with a cook-out Saturday night Aug. 26th. It was a night of food, drink, dancing, socializing, and GO-KART Racing. As luck would have it Jeanie Chresos ( our miniature golf champ) attended. She would beat the guys both Saturday night and Sunday, In all fairness to the guys she did carry nearly 70 lbs less weight. Our radio station sponsor, WERE, provided gift certificates to Damon’s restaurant, passes for Geauga Lake and goodie bags for the Sunday car show. The Brunswick Lake show was laid back and fun. The opposite was true for Motor Meet ‘89.

On September 3rd we teamed up with Bill Spork at the Berea Fairgrounds. Expectations were for 250 cars. 400 plus showed up. The cars were judged on a 500 point system which was very time consuming. It also resulted in more than the normal class winners. Awards were scheduled for 4:30 pm. We got started at 7 pm. The biggest problem was running out of trophies. That show taught us all a lot of new lessons.

Now comes Mother Nature again. She rained on our Sept 10th picnic. She did worse to our Autumn Cruise '89. A cruise that was to take us through the Chagrin Valley and end up at Dairy Island with a mini car show, food and miniature golf. Saturday night Sept. 23rd brought us the tail end of a Hurricane. Ray and Carol Kuss were there in their T-bucket (no top). Nancy Fox brought her Mustang out for the first time since receiving a complete restoration. First came the rain, then it turned to sleet.

Saturday Sept 30th we attended our first Hay ride. It was a perfect clear night, fantastic food and a haunted Hay Ride though the wooded hills.

We co-hosted a Test-N-Tune at Dragway 42 on Oct. 1st. Restored and Radical Car Club handled most of the work. We backed them financially. Len Russo filmed our cars leaving the starting line. I put video cameras in chase cars to film our cars speeding down the track and Bill Ellis filmed the cars at the finish line. Mark Dienes our professional video man put together a seamless club video tape. No one has ever come up with a tape as good as that one.

No social calendar would be complete without a Halloween Party. Bob and Sherri Hamm hosted our Club on Oct. 28th at a little cottage in Sherri’s back yard. I think there was a spooky lake there too. This was a costume event with enough food for a hundred people. As always I was taking pictures. One picture came back that was rather strange. It was a group picture. Some people appeared normal, others are transparent. One lady has 3 pairs of hands. Experts have looked at this picture but no one can explain what you see.

As always we end the year with a party in December. In his younger days Rich Krawcyk (1st cousin to Clark Kent) would step into the men’s room and exit as Santa Claus. After he passed out presents to all the children the adults had their turn. Our members received the first Club Hats. We also had the club logo made into a pin. Every member received one to go with the hat. Steve Kosarko and Tom Krebs handled the food for the party and the ladies once again took care of the desserts. Bob and Sherri Hamm took care of the children’s gifts and decorating the party room.

As you can see this was a busy year. Almost everything we did was a first ( for us anyway). The members were always willing to pitch in and try something new. Twenty years later we are still here.

Was there a magic additive that was responsible? My guess would be the core group that has provided the direction and spirit. What do you think?

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