Driving down Broadway Avenue in Maple Heights, Rich Krawczyk spotted a group of cars parked at the Sub Shop. The Sub Shop was a drive-in restaurant with a canopy extending from its small building out to the sidewalk, with spaces for several dozen cars in the front parking lot. The lot was full, and that caught Krawczyk’s eye. Rich spun his Corvette around, pulled in among the muscle cars and started asking questions. A small group of men were meeting there weekly. Rich soon met with Chuck Vella, a guy who was very savvy about cars, trucks, and clubs. Chuck had a custom 4×4 show truck and was very involved with a truck club. In his garage sat a mid-sixties Mercury Meteor that was in the midst of restoration. The two men sat at Chuck’s kitchen table for an hour and a half, talking about cars, cruising, and clubs. That night the wheels were put in motion for what we have today.
In August 1986 Chuck Vella organized a core group of people; Chuck was the president, Sal Russo the vice-president, Sam LaNasa, secretary, and Lou Stefano, treasurer; they started a newsletter with Rich Krawczyk as editor. This was the beginning of our Club. New members were drawn into the Club from the cruisers at the Sub Shop; Chuck signed up over a dozen people there one night just by asking; friends, neighbors, and school buddies also joined. The first meeting took place at the Garfield Heights City Hall in September 1986. A lot of work had to be done before we became a real Club; first, we needed a name.
Tri-City Street Machines was one name we debated; the three cities were Maple Heights, Garfield Heights, and the Bedford area. Chuck didn’t like that name; he must have been a visionary, for that name would not have served us well today. In 1986 Cleveland was in the planning stages of becoming the Rock-n-Roll Capital; the Hall of Fame was in both the national and local news. Adding “Street Machines” to the Rock-n-Roll Capital was too good to pass up. Now our name would encompass the entire Cleveland area.
We would need a logo so, Lou Stefano’s wife, Phillipa, and club member, Robert Cochrane, designed one; it was then copyrighted in Sam LaNasa’s name (to keep outsiders from using it or tampering with it).
A Constitution along with by-laws was drawn up, a dress code was established, jackets and shirts were chosen and dues were collected. Getting started was no easy task but Chuck managed to get the ball rolling. He had a way of getting people to pitch in and get the job done. With hardly any money in the treasury most of our jobs would have to be done by volunteers.
Volunteers cleaned up the parking lot at the Sub Shop, cut the grass and pulled weeds. Tuesday was chosen as the ideal cruise night, because it was a slow night, but because of that we got better service from the car hops. Tuesday night has served us well ever since.
Louis Stefano knew the owners of a drive-in diner on Aurora Rd. in Bedford Heights; it was a small building with part gravel and part asphalt parking lot. They sold burgers and ice cream and there were tables and seats outside. Pal’s Drive-In became our new home in 1987; we remained there until the end of 1991.
In 1987 we moved our meeting site to the Bedford Heights Community Center. The 3rd Sunday of the month, at 6 pm, was our regular meeting date. The Club hit the ground running in 1987; we started the year with a club display at the Auto-Rama.
The theme was a drive-in diner. We received many awards including Best Club Display. To raise money for our near-empty treasury we held a swap meet on April 15, 1987. Club member Jack Leventry was employed at Hern Oldsmobile in Bedford, and was able to make the arrangements for our Club to use the dealership.
Thanks to Connie LaNasa we held our First Annual Car Show on Memorial Day 1987. Connie worked for the School Board and was able to get permission for our Club to use the school property behind Pal’s Drive-In. A lot of work went into those car shows; we would attract a little over a hundred cars in those days.
At that time, that was considered a fair turnout. Our profits for all of the hundreds of man hours of work were never that great. We would make only a few hundred dollars but I think most of us had fun. We were also learning to work as a team. Some favorite memories are from the Garfield Heights car displays in the city park.
Rich Krawczyk, a city employee, was always able to make our car club the center of attraction at all the city events. You really get to know your fellow members while sitting in the shade of the trees on a summer day and sharing food and thought. The same can be said for the countless picnics we had at Tinker’s Creek and other parks.
One memory that lives forever in my mind is that of Rich Krawczyk cooking on a propane grill; I have a video of Rich trying to put out the flames; the smoke signal he was putting out read “call 911″. We started another tradition in 1987; we began hosting Test and Tune events.
Our first Test and Tune was held at Norwalk Raceway Park. The park had many competitions, some not as obvious as others. One centered around two brothers-in-law; one thought he could drive the other’s car a little bit better. The yellow Chevelle convertible and the blue Barracuda lined up; Sam LaNasa was behind the wheel of Mike De Foor’s Barracuda; Mike was driving Sam’s car. The engines began to scream. The open exhaust blasted your ears but nothing could drown out the sound that followed when “Slick Shift Sam” dumped the clutch on D-4’s ‘Cuda. It was that unmistakable sound of good parts gone bad. Under the car lay a twisted drive shaft.
Our first Christmas party took place on Dec. 5, 1987. Rich Krawczyk was able to fix us up with a party room at the Garfield Heights City Hall where I videotaped that party. There were door prizes from all the sponsors that Chuck Vella had gotten for our club.
We had some food from local merchants and club members supplied the rest. There was a sense of being more than just a club; we were becoming a family. My daughter Janice, and her husband, Phil were in the club at that time; it was something special for my wife, Ilsa and me. I remember Donetta being pregnant at the time with Chad; Chad is the young man now making a name for himself driving race cars.
There are many things that happened that first year that are now forgotten; what I have written is what I remember along with the help of the original members who remain in the Club. I felt that writing the history of our club was long overdue; it should be done to honor those that laid the foundation for the club that we enjoy today. A small group of people has impacted the lives of many.
Your fellow cruiser, Joe Artale, member since 1987.
A small change had taken place on the Board by this time. Lee Henshaw was now the Treasurer. We also added a club Historian and special events chairman, Steve Kosarko.
At our January 1988 meeting we thanked four ladies, Sue Russo, Mary Lou Krawczyk, Nancy Fox and Joyce Vella for the wonderful Christmas Party we all enjoyed. They did not know it at the time but they had become our first Social Events committee.
The main topic of discussion among members was the Auto-Rama and the Club display. This year we would use the Big Boy Drive-In Diner Theme. It was set up by Mike Defoor and his crew. The Big Boy figure that we borrowed from the front of Manners Big Boy on Granger Road added a nice touch, so much so we would win Best Club Display and a special ISCA award for our Club Display.
We also won nine individual display awards plus seven of our Club Members were given Assistance Awards for escorting Show Celebrities.
We had become active with other Clubs in many ways such as Test and Tune and Car Shows. On March 19th we participated in Bowling with the Midnight Cruisers at the Stardust Lanes on Brookpark Road. April 17th saw us at Hern Oldsmobile for another Swap Meet.
Our second annual Car Show was scheduled for May 29th at Aurora Road Elementary School. Tom Krebs our Club Photographer was hospitalized with a heart-attack around the same time. Our second annual Car Show was scheduled for May 29th, Memorial Day weekend, at Aurora Road Elementary School. Show day was to be Sunday with Monday planned as a Rain Date. Bedford Hts Mayor Jimmy Dimora was there along with members of City Council. The Midnight Cruisers were their for Tech Support. Lenny Polumbo brought out his alcohol Funny car “Top Gun”. George Bartos’ brother displayed his Batmobile. We also displayed a Testarosa owned by Bruce Adelstein and a 1987 Firebird Circle Track Race Car owned by Tony Depaulo. To quote Chuck Vella from the June 1988 Club Newsletter, “What a great show”.
Pictures of these events can be see in our early Club Photo albums. Our present day Club Historian Sam LaNasa brings them to our monthly meetings.
At this point I should mention that a change has taken place on the Board, Chuck Vella is still President, Sam LaNassa is now Vice President, Joan Henshaw is our Secretary and Lee Henshaw remains our Treasurer.
Our normal meeting day June 19th was the 3rd Sunday of the month, It was also Father’s Day. We decided to go to Club Days at Norwalk Raceway Park for a day of Drag Racing. This was one of our early Test-N-Tune events. We all had fun and the Club earned a few dollars as a side benefit.
July always has been a very active month for our club and 1988 was no exception. Starting with the Garfield Hts. Home days on July 2nd where 15 members displayed their cars. Next on July 3rd the Maple Hts. Homedays where 21 members displayed their cars.
Each July 4th our club takes part in the Bedford-Bedford Hts, 4th of July Parade. At the end of the parade the hosting city for that year have a party, with food and drink for the participants.
Bedford Reservation was again chosen as the sight for another Picnic in July. Everyone came in their Club cars and we filled the parking lot in front of the Pavilion. It had the appearance of a Car show in the woods.
Board members from the Midnight Cruisers and the Buckeye Drag Club were invited to attend our July Club Meeting. Plans were to combine our Clubs efforts for a Car show, Swap meet, Test-N-Tune event at Norwalk Raceway Park. Sept 11th was the date the track would be available.
Plans were made to award Trophies at our Tuesday Night Cruise. Each Tuesday night between Aug 16th and Sept. 11th the owners of Pals Drive- In would pick a “car of their choice” At the end of the night they would present the winner with a “Pal’s Choice” trophy.
My life changed forever the day I attended the August 21st 1988 meeting. Some rather persistent people insisted that I accept their nomination for President. I agreed only to get them to go away, I also felt that I did not stand a chance of winning.
Our president Chuck Vella, decided to proceed with the elections that night instead of waiting until the September meeting. Here are the results of that election. President Joe Artale, Vice President Steve Kosarko, Secretary George Lemmerman, Treaurer Lee Henshaw and a staff consisting of the following appointed people: Special events chairman Mike Defoor Co-chair Mark Dienes Club Historian Jerry Magyar Club Photographer Tom Drebs Club Videographer Stan Witkowski Newsletter Editor Rich Krawczyk
We started making plans for the 1989 Auto-Rama at our Sept 18th meeting. A Gasoline Service setting was to be our new Club Display Theme. Pressing our luck weather wise we also made plans for one more picnic at the Bedford Reservation. The event took place Oct. 2nd.
Our Christmas party was planned for Dec. 18th at the Bedford Hts. Civic Center. Though I don’t remember the main food source old notes indicate it was delicious and plentiful. Mary Lou Krawczyk rounded up volunteers to prepare desserts. Rich Krawczyk portrayed Santa Claus for the children. Our Sponsors were very generous with door prizes. Everyone would home go with something worth while.
1988 was looked upon as a a busy year for our young car club. History now shows it was merely the beginning. The Club would continue to grow with new members and lose old members. I have been told this is normal for most organizations, this may be true but it is always sad to see good people fade away.
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?
By the year 1990 the Club is now over three years old. We are now looking for new ideas for raising money to cover Club expenses. We are also outgrowing our Tuesday night cruise site at Pals Drive In. On top of all this the members are looking for some new, fun social events.
Many things are going to change as time goes by. Some changes are welcomed by all, while others are cause for divisiveness. For example, we made the bold move to add a black collared, button down T-shirt for a dressier look. The result was welcomed by all. The same result could not be said for the next change. Seventeen years later the summer “white” T-shirts are still a hot topic with some.
Most things change over time that we have no control over. One thing that has not changed is the winning spirit of our members. For example, the 1990 Auto-Rama (our 4th) ran from Friday Feb. 2nd to Sunday Feb. 4th. As always it snows on one of theses days. This year the snow storm comes on Sunday just in time to make a mess of the cars heading home.
The car owners didn’t seem to care since they were going home winners. This years efforts were rewarded with (9) trophies, (3) special awards and (2) TV/radio combination sets.
Mark Diemes edited twenty hours of video tapes turned in by club members into a sixteen minute attraction that held the spectators attention the entire weekend. Some people were seen taping it as it played on our Club TV while others were asking about purchasing a copy.
On May 6th the Club had a double event day. The rain that day was only a minor inconvenience that didn’t dampen the spirits of the 11 Club cars the participated in the Fleet Avenue Parade. Jerry Magyar took charge of that event. A 1941 Oldsmobile owned by Jack Leventry thrilled most of the people as it blew huge flames from it’s dual exhaust. A few of the older folks thought the car needed some repair work
Our other event that day was a Test-And-Tune at Dragway 42. This was a fun day with a short sprinkle thrown in during the lunch break. Sheltered under a tent provided by Tom Krebs our cooks Janice Zabish and Donna Lappert prepared lunch for all Club participants. In the video department, cameraman Bob Hamm rode the tailgate position of Tim Drogonys’ station wagon. He would race ahead of the drag cars and film them at speeds of up to 90 mph as they screamed past. Len Russo filmed the cars leaving the starting line, smoking tires, noise and all.
Our traditional Memorial Day car show is about to undergo a major change. Our show entailed a lot of work and a great deal of risk. When the Club was presented with the opportunity to take over Motormeet ’90 at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds we snapped it up. The deal came with a guaranteed return and no financial risk. We manned the ticket booths and ran the entire show which included judging the cars and presenting the awards. We had two buildings for our own use and used them to set up our Club cars in a special indoor Club display. To be fair to the non-Club participants in the show our cars were judges by two independent professionals.
There was supposed to be a second show involving the Club on Sept. 1st and 2nd. Although the Memorial Day show was a success we turned down the September show. One thing I had learned by this time is that everyone volunteers to help early in the cruise season. By September people are burned out and don’t respond well to work details on the last few weekends of summer. These shows needed at least 45 people to cover the work load of 500 show cars and thousands of spectators.
Rain washed out at least half the June 23rd-24th Muscle Car Nationals at Norwalk. The club was still paid $1000.00 for showing up!
Friday night June 29th the Club displayed 24 cars at Bedford Hts Home Days. This is done in appreciation for our discounted meeting room the third Sunday of each month.
Wednesday July 4th the Club participated in the Bedford/Bedford Hts parade. Steve Killeen has become Mayor Jimmy Dimora’s regular driver by this time. Stveve made a special raised (and reinforced) rear seat in his GTO convertible for the Mayor. Friday July 6th the Club displayed 13 cars in the Cleveland Budweiser 500 parade. Radio station 98.5 WNCX has now joined our long list of sponsors. We provided rides for radio personalities from WNCX and sponsor station WERE. People like Joel Rose, Merel Polis, Greg Brenda and Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley rode in our cars. After the parade we were given pit passes for the race track.
July 8th the Club donated $125.00 to the Bedford Hts 10K race fund. We also provided two escort cars for the race. This donation and the Home Days display covered our cost for one years use of our meeting and party room in Bedford Hts.
On July 8th the Vietnam Veterans held their 2nd annual car show at Ganley Mazda/VW. The Club was there again to support their efforts.
On August 11th, 1990 the Club started a tradition that still takes place today, although without our support. I was contacted by Mayfield Village Mayor Fred N. Carmen. It seemed a Village event that was to end with fireworks was rained out. He wanted to plan an event that would draw a large crowd and end it with fireworks at 10:15 PM. Scott Marquard and myself put together the annual cruise you see each year.
Our Club showed up with 56 cars! We had the church parking lot on the corner of Rt 91 and Wilson Mills Rd. for our own use. Over 500 cars cruised Wilson Mills rd. that night between 7:00 and 10:00 PM. We provided some special entertainment with a 1955 Chevy drag car called the “Gong Show” owned by Bob Grabowski. He provided a little “light ’em up” with a 1st and 2nd gear hole shot. The smell of cam 2 and burning rubber filled the air. The open exhaust drowned out the cheers of the crowd.
Jack Leventry put on his own show after sunset. His ’41 Oldsmobile lit up the night with a flame show. As planned the fireworks started at 10:15 PM. If you were home by 11:00 PM you saw our Club on Channel 3 and 5 news. My car and Al Leondarides Pontiac were featured. Our Club was also the subject of an article in the Sun Messenger on page A9 under “Nostalgia On Wheels”. Frank LaManna provided the information.
I love picnics or shall I say food. The Club reserved Valley View Lake Park for our August 19th picnic. This was by no means your average run of the mill picnic. We started out with Bill Ellis cooking up an endless supply of egg rolls. Next, Angie’s Rib Wagon arrives with pizza appetizers. While members fish on the lake and play games ribs and chicken are cooking on Angie’s huge grill. For dessert, Pat Matusik baked a splendid cake decorated with all the Club members names across the top.
Bob and Sherri Hamm hauled in a trailer loaded with donated door prizes from our sponsors. They also managed the games and contests. None of the 100 Club members present that day went home hungry or empty handed.
Saturday, September 8th we are at it again. Chicken and ribs, baked potato, corn on the cob, tossed salad, bread, butter, coffee and tea. All this for $7.00!! But wait, there’s more! Let’s throw in a hayride and the use of a barn at Blazin’ Bills. The 86 Club members in attendance that evening all had a ball.
On September 22nd we finished the drag season with another partnership, our old stand by car club Restored and Radical. In those days we did three things at the drags. One, we race, two, we film and three we eat. We had a young lady in the Club back then who was fast, very fast! Jody Allison owned and raced a dragster. We also had three other ladies who could really cook. Tom Krebs set up the tents and Pat Dovak, Joanne Obreza and Pat Matusik fed our members. Len Russo, Jim Dacek and Jim Vokerka filmed our drags which were later edited into our last official Club video.
On Sept. 25th Sam LaNasa, myself and five other Club members met with the people from 98.5FM WNCX. We discussed plans of combining our Auto-Rama display with the radio station. Ron Heitman was there and he agreed this plan would be of great benefit to us all. More on this issue in the next installment of the Club history.
Somewhere near this time frame our first Club President Chuck Vella underwent surgery at Hillcrest Hospital. Although he was doing fine at the time, the cancer would return. As if one car show during the winter months were not enough (Auto-Rama) we are now planning a show at the IX Center. This will be their first Rod and Custom show running from January 3rd -5th.
Our Tuesday night cruise site (Pals Drive-In) is now closed for the season and we will review our cruise at the November meeting. We have come to the conclusion that we have grown too big for their lot. Pals can’t serve the food fast enough for the crowds we are bringing in and the women are not very fond of the Porta-Potty back in the woods to the rear of the lot. For the first time the Club is talking about doing a charity event. Nothing is decided but we are looking to expand in yet another direction.
I won’t dwell on another Christmas party other than to say December 16th was the day, and to address a comment from Richard Johns from our July 2006 meeting, the time was 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
I had planned on taking the Club to Trolleyville USA sometime during the summer or fall but their open dates fell on our Clubs earlier commitments. They had a picnic ground and a trolley museum with trolleys going back as far as the turn of the century. You could even tour the repair shops or ride the street cars on their two and a half miles of track.
1990 was a very busy year. First of all we needed to earn money to cover the Club expenses. Unless we accomplished this important job the Club would not exist as we know it. Next comes publicity. Publicity comes in many forms such as Auto-Rama or parades. Sometimes it may seem that we spend too much time on these important necessities. We have tried to insert as many fun events as possible throughout the year. After all, I think we all joined up to have fun. I don’t think we have left a single stone unturned while looking for ways to accomplish these goals.
Stay tuned and on the edge of your seat for the next exciting chapter.
Super Bowl Sunday, January 26th. Our Club members give the Super Bowl a new meaning. From noon to 5:00 P.M. our bowling team is hard at work honing their skills at Seven Hills Lanes. Bowling (3 games) and pizza for $6.00! One of the benefits of being a Club member.
By now Auto-Rama has become an annual tradition. This year WMJI 105.7 FM is incorporated into our display. The highlight of the show which ran from January 31st to February 2nd was the Pit Stop competition. Under the expert supervision of coach Gary Oberc, Dave “Nimble Fingers” Zuber assembled nuts and bolts then completed the required checking and cleaning. Bill “Pit Stop” Ellis changed (4) tires as Joe “Red Ribbon” Rhea changes spark plugs and wires on a separate engine.
When the smoke cleared, Team Rock ‘N Roll had set a record and beat the boys from the Medina High School Automotive Technical Career Center. The cash winnings of $300.00 as well as another $225.00 from Steve Estrin was donated the Kalie Kaminski fund raiser. 4 month old Kalie had a heart transplant and the family needed help with medical expenses.
Once again we receive the “Outstanding Club Award” and the “Best Club Display Award”. Leslie Sekerak, our Newsletter Editor since July 1991, has made some major improvements in the quality of our monthly publication. The newsletter now has a neat, clean and professional look. In a search for new ideas a suggestion box is introduced in February of 1992 and remained in use for a number of years.
The Club held it’s 2nd annual Model Car Contest during our March Club meeting. The model cars were displayed and judged according to the age of the builders. Six inches of snow on Sunday, March 22nd didn’t stop 32 Club members from participating in the third and final bowling party of the season.
Club members have been gathering at the Solon Commons Food Court on a regular basis throughout the winter months. Each Tuesday evening we would rearrange the tables to accommodate our ever growing party.
Frank “Early Bird” LaManna and Rick “Fair Weather” Markko show up on March 31st, their machines all aglow. Our new cruise season is just around the corner. TheClub was invited to participate in Automania ’92 in Niles, Ohio on April 10th to 12th. The highlights of that show were the calendar girls and our Club cars, in that order. There were eight Club cars displayed and you can rest assured that the owners and the support team had a great time. The proof can be found in the pages of the 1991-1992 Club photo album.
Easter would fall on our normal April meeting date this year. We rescheduled the meeting to May 3rd at the Solon Commons Food Court. Earlier that day the Club had once again participated in the annual Fleet Avenue Parade.
Our Club held one more Memorial Day car show at the Aurora Rd School grounds behind Pals Drive In on May 6th. The 6th annual car show would be our final Club event at the Pals Drive In site.
Mayfield Village held it’s 3rd annual Cruise Night on June 13th this year. More cars than ever cruise the loop on Wilson Mills from Beta Drive to SOM Center Rd. All the parking lots are filled by late afternoon for a cruise that begins at 6:00 P.M. We are now just participants in a show that just three years earlier we had a major roll in starting. Dave Zuber managed to photograph Jack Leventry’s ’41 Olds putting on a flame show in from of the Mayfield Village Fire Department. A real Kodak moment!
June 13th would be another dual event day with the Cleveland Growth Association inviting our Club to participate in the Square to Square Affair. With 19 Club cars we set up a display from Playhouse Square to Public Square.
Friday evening, June 26th, the Club has the honor of displaying 11 cars at Chester Commons in downtown Cleveland. We are between the WMJI Julebox and the band “Wild Horses”. This event is called “The Party In The Park”.
The Club has become regular participants in the Bedford/Bedford Hts 4th of July parade. As a group we have 11 cars plus Steve Killeen who drives Mayor Jimmy Dimora in his GTO convertible. At the July 10th Bedford Hts Home Days we are presented with a plaque in appreciation of our Club’s car display. We are also presented with a check for $100.00 for 1st place honors in the 4th of July parade.
On July 11th a crew of the Clubs best qualified members judged 200 cars in Streetsboro. This was a very popular show in it’s time and it was an honor to be part of it. We combined our July Club meeting with a Test N Tune at Norwalk Raceway Park. The July 19th event was a huge success!! The employees of Norwalk were quite impressed with our turnout.
The city of Highland Hts has invited us to participate in their Home Days parade on July 26th. This was to be our first event with this city. Unfortunately it would be delayed one year by rain. Saturday August 1st we have a Club picnic at Elmwood Community Park in Independence. On the same day George Bartos had the honor of driving the Grand Marshals (Twins of course) of the Twins Day Festival Parade in his ’76 Corvette. They chose the Corvette over a new Chrysler LeBaron convertible provided by Chrysler. The Twinsburg, Ohio annual festival was featured on National News that weekend and George was up front.
The Bedford Street fair on August 21st was a fun event, Broadway Ave was closed to traffic. Our Club displayed 11 cars at the square. There was plenty of great food served, folks boppin’ to the beat of several bands and great weather. On Sunday, September 6th a Muscular Dystrophy Association benefit was held at the Solon Community Park. The Club participated with a car display and our best ball players. We teamed up with Tommy Edwards records and went on to beat WMJI. The Club made a $100.00 donation to MDA.
Our weekly cruise in Solon is drawing more than 180 cars on Tuesday evenings. This is three times the number that we drew at Pals. Once again, as what happened at Pals we find ourselves with more cars than parking spaces. At times cars are parked in the grass along the street. DJ Bill King supplies a sound system and pushes the 50/50 raffle. Jeff and Barb Takas handle the front table. The Club has been raising money for Ronald McDonald House.
On September 20th the Club once again heads to Downtown Cleveland for another event. Sixteen of our cars are displayed at the Fun In The Flats Show. Not a bad showing when you consider that most of us were out partying till past midnight at Blazin’ Bills for our annual hay ride and ribs. Bill King, our regular cruise DJ taught square dancing and the Electric Slide. Ilsa and I had been going to Sharon, PA for a number of years and found some places of interest along the way. I shared this information with then Club President Mario Bennici. On Sunday, November 15th we leave the Solon Commons parking lot aboard two fully loaded Lakefront Trailways busses. The busses are soon slipping and sliding as we head East. At one point we are forced to turn the busses around in a farm yard as the snow has closed the road ahead. Being fearless car people and thrill seekers we find an open road and motor on. The snow cleared as we arrived in Sharon. PA.
In Sharon we visited Daffin’s Chocolate Factory and Kranyak’s famous Christmas shops. We had a room called “Thunder Alley” reserved for us at Quaker Steak and Lube Restaurant. This is the original restaurant that once was a gas station. If you look up, real race cars are hanging from the ceiling and walls. A late 1930’s Chevy is on a raised lift in front of the rest rooms. Last, but not least the food was pretty good too.
Our bowling team starts the new season on November 22nd at Seven Hills Lanes. I never did figure out if these people went there to bowl or eat pizza.
The annual December Holiday bash was held on December 20th at the Bedford Hts Community Center. This year we begin to collect canned and non-perishable food items for the Cleveland Inter Church Council for distribution to the needy for holiday meals. This day also marks the beginning of our Sunshine Fund. We donate loose change to help cover the cost of cards and flowers to acknowledge the tragedies and milestones in the lives of our members.
Our first ever food drive, which we collected at our December Christmas party was a great success. The bounty was taken to Avon Baptist Church where it was distributed to the needy.
In the past, those mysterious Board meetings that our Club officials attended were scheduled on dates that were mutually convenient. Starting in 1993 it became standard practice to hold the meetings on the Monday evening following a regular Club meeting. This Board meeting time is used to discuss ideas for future events, address members concerns and to handle the business aspects of our organization. The meetings were open only to Board members and committee Chair people.
From the very beginning of our Club we have tried to somehow make a connection with the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. As a Club we donated to their fundraisers. It was Chuck Vella’s dream to have his Club there on opening day. I’m sure he did what he could in the early days of planning. I spent my three years as Club president sending letters on a regular basis to the R-N-R Hall of Fame officials only to learn that no one was there long enough to receive more than one letter. This had become very frustrating. I was always introducing the Club, but never making a true connection.
Things were about to change. Our then newsletter editor Leslie Sekerak accompanied by her husband Chuck attended a year end party. Leslie struck up a conversation with a lady who had left a teaching position to become the research coordinator for the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. This was an incredible coincidence.
Sensing a chance to make some connection here, Leslie launched into a conversation that included an explanation of who we are and what we do. Leslie also mentioned our interest in being part of the opening festivities at the museum. The result was acquiring the Research Directors business card and instructions on how to contact the top man himself, Michael Benz.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Leslie sent an introductory cover letter and a copy of “News and Views” (Our Club newsletter) to Mr. Benz so he could get a better picture of who we are. She states in the letter that the Club would be honored to be a part of the opening ceremonies. After six years of wasted efforts Leslie finally had us headed in the proper direction.
Auto-Rama, February 5th to the 7th 1993 was one for the record books. Seventeen cars, two pick up trucks and one t-bucket were displayed around our Club gazebo display. Once again we win the “Outstanding Club” plaque and the coveted “ISCA Best Club Display” plaque.
This years “Pit Stop” contest had a ladies division. Our ladies team finished second, winning $200.00. In the men’s competition our team won first place awards and the $300.00 top prize. In the “Wacky Gas Grill” contest our homemade dragster, the “Roaster Coaster” won the second place trophy. In 1993 the Board introduced an idea to spice up meeting nights. Refreshments were served to the surprised Club members and munchies and sweets have since become a common part of our monthly meetings.
Some major events take place in March. First, our newsletter editor is taken ill and no newsletter goes out. The stay at home members don’t learn that Club president Mario Bennici has stepped down until the April newsletter arrives. Vice President Bill Ellis steps up to fill the vacancy. A special election is held in April to fill the vacancy of Vice President. Rick Markko is voted in. On a positive note, the newsletter has taken on a new look. Starting with the April edition the pages are now 8 1/2 x 11″. The old newsletters were a thin Readers Digest size book.
The Solon Commons has now become a second home to our Club members. We meet there every Tuesday evening throughout the year. Members show up on March 30th with cars all polished up for the new cruise season. The first official cruise is scheduled for April 27th. Bill King is the DJ for 1993.
Our Club is featured in the May 10th edition of the Plain Dealer in a series of articles dealing with various Cleveland area car clubs. In one section our upcoming events and meeting information was listed. Under fundraising events and charities we are given five paragraphs. Our Club is earning a positive reputation, not only for our first rate cars, but because of our first rate attitude, Too.
By June 1993 some Club members are beginning to feel that we are going to be overtaken by another car club for our number one spot at the top. It seems that the American Cruisers are gaining in strength and numbers. The competition only pushes us to be more creative, more enthusiastic and more involved.
Back for a second year in a row our Club once again participates in Cleveland’s Square to Square. Saturday June 5th the weather is cold and dismal. Our cars are displayed in front of Woolworths on Euclid Ave. The only highlight of the day is the marching bands. Things improved immensely on Sunday June 6th. Warm and sunny. No need to visit Tower City to thaw out. There was food and games, the band Starship performed and the telethon to benefit Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital was going strong. Our Club pledges $50.00 and a challenge to other clubs to meet or beat our donation. Mini grand prix racers are zipping around hay bales on Public Square. Corporate teams sponsor, drive and service these racers to raise funds for crippled children.
A younger, and more aerodynamic (streamlined) Rich Krawczyk came home with a funny story Sunday night. He had been wearing a dark colored wide brimmed cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. Standing among the celebrities and race cars he certainly looked like a person of interest. Out of the crowd comes a well dressed man and his lady companion. The exact words have long been forgotten and this is as close as Rich and I can agree on the exact dialogue. “Richard, what a surprise and honor it is to see you here!” Rich looks up puzzled and quickly places his hand on his wallet. The stranger continues to talk to Rich as if he is a long lost friend. Rich wonders who this man could be and how does he know my name? After some more small talk the man asks Rich for his autograph. “Why do you want my autograph?” Rich asks. “Mr. Petty, you can’t fool me, I would know you anywhere” answered the stranger.
This leads to a no I’m not, yes you are debate that goes on for several minutes with the stranger becoming angrier by the minute. The man finally storms off telling everyone within sight that Richard Petty will not sign an autograph today. Thirty four Club members participate in the Cleveland event with another several dozen members showing up at the Hot Rod Nationals at Canfield that same weekend.
Bill Tompot and Rick Markko have established a scholarship fund to honor and recognize our young hard working students. Student are asked to submit their applications by July 30th.
Saturday night, June 12th Mayfield Village holds it’s 4th annual Cruise Night. As a club we are no longer taking part in their event. Members are still attend the event as individuals. July 3rd our Club is the featured attraction at the Bedford Hts Home Days with 27 cars. The following day we take part in the annual 4th of July parade.
The Club is now in the early stages of planning a new Social Events Committee. It will be responsible for arranging the Clubs social calendar.
At our July meeting the members are asked to vote on a member participation issue that would require each member to participate in a minimum of three (3) events per year or risk expulsion from the Club.
The Garfield Hts. Home Days was a fun and profitable event in July. The twenty cars the Club displayed enriched our treasury by $200.00.
Sunday, July 25th we make our first appearance in the Highland Hts Home Days parade. The Club picnic was held on Sunday, August 8th at the new Brecksville Rec Center on Rt 21. Those members that were there will surely remember the Super Soaker squirt guns. I would like to take one sentence from the August 1993 issue of our “News and Views” as written by then President Bill Ellis in his Drvers Seat column. “Please note that nominations are NOT closed until voting begins at the Sunday meeting”. I only mention this because thirteen years later a last minute nomination changed the outcome of our election.
The August elections usher in a new board. Rick Markko is elected President, Jerry Magyar Vice President, Ron Fox Treasurer and Laura Cherry Secretary. Also at this time our newsletter editor Leslie Sekerak steps down and her position is filled by Ralph Waugh.
Our 7th Annual Car show was held on Sunday, August 22nd at the Solon Commons in the front parking lot. We had 193 registered cars. Special attractions that day included MADD, DARE and Ron Heitman’s funeral coach. The WMJI 105.7 Jukebox was present and Bill King our DJ filled in. The Club raised enough money to make a $200.00 donation to MDA. On August 29th Dave Shostek and I ( Joe Artale ) escorted the Bedford Hts Ten Kilometer Race through the city streets with our cars.
The Clubs new Secretary, Lori Cherry made a big impression at our September 12th Test and Tune held at Norwalk. I was at the far end of the track passing out the timing slips when the sound of some serious horsepower filled the air. Out pops a slip with a 10.70 time! I believe the speed was 127 MPH! As the car approached the E.T. shack I was surprised to see that it was a Valiant. I was shocked when the driver removed her helmet. It was Lori driving her fathers race car. Seventy five Club members attended our September 18th hayride at Blazin’ Bills. Frank LaManna was our DJ for the night. Larry Schrader handles the square dancing duties. This year we offered two hayride choices. Hayed and unhayed. Both rides are identical at the start. The unhayed ride would return in the same condition as when it left, passengers neat and clean, hay still in place. When the hayed wagon would return the passengers would be picking hay out of their socks, hair, pockets, underwear and misc. body cavities. It was also a good idea to carry a flashlight. You never could tell when someone would be hiding in the dark ready to set off a roadside hay explosion.
After much debate the Club has finally voted to drop the minimum event participation issue. In it’s place the Club decided to place new members in a six month probationary period. Up until 1993 new members were voted into the Club. The problem was that some people were never seen again after they became members. The six months of probation required new members to attend all meetings and take part in Club events. It would be nice if showing up would become habit forming.
The Club now has a “Complaint Department”. If a Club member is unhappy about something and are uncomfortable about bringing up the subject Tim Dragony will speak for you. Just send him a note, it need not be signed and Tim will handle your problem.
“News Flash” Gary Oberc was so proud to have the only rod at the Commons on Tuesday. September 28th. Cold, rain, lightning and sleet!! What a trip for a ’53 Merc with no heater. Saturday, November 27th Frank and Cookie LaManna host a Niagara Falls Festival of Lights bus tour. The first stop was the Clifton Hill Mall across the Canadian border. A fine meal with a view of the Falls was enjoyed at the Minolta Tower. This was followed by the Lighting of the Falls Ceremony at dusk followed by a guided tour of Niagara Park and the Christmas lights. Last but not least, all of our bus trips come with on board entertainment such as movies, comedians and Doctor Mary Lou.
December ends with the same traditions. Getting ready for Auto-Rama, Club Christmas party and collecting canned goods for the needy.
On January 10th a dinner/meeting was held at Denny’s in the Garfield Mall. Auto-Rama 1994 is just around the corner and we are about to complete our plans for our 8th show in a row.
Our theme for the February 4th to 6th show was “Built in America”. The club went all out this year with a new display and carpet for the entire floor area. Fourteen Club members displayed their cars as a group and three more members were in competition outside of our display.
We went home with the 1st place award for “Outstanding Club”, 2nd place and $200 for the ISCA Club Display, 1st place and $300 in the Men’s Pit Stop Contest and 3rd place and $100 for the Co-Ed Pit Stop Contest.
Of the seventeen Club cars on display we received eight 1st place awards, three 2nd place awards, four 3rd place awards and two 4th place awards. Our Automotive Events Chairman Bill Tompot went home Sunday night a very proud man.
How would you like to own your very own Rock’N-Roll Capital Street Machines watch? This stunning timepiece can be yours for only $25.00. See Dave Zuber at the February 20th, 1994 Club meeting.
Contrary to common sense, our early Club rosters were not in alphabetical order. The members were listed in the order of their joining the Club. Rightfully so, there was a very definite pecking order as to founders and late comers.
Charles V. Vella, our founder, would be #1 on that list. In the sequential order of Club Presidents Chuck Vella would be #1. To us , he was always #1 in many small but important things he had done to build the foundation that this Club was built upon.
On February 23rd, 1994 the phone rang. A heart broken Joyce Vella was calling to inform us that after three operations over a four year period our “Number One” had lost his battle with cancer. Joyce had two requests. One was to notify the Club members of chucks passing and the second, to have a few Club members present at the funeral wearing Club colors. The second request resulted in the forming of our Color Guard, which stood by at the funeral home. We accompanied the casket to the church and the cemetery. A small tribute to a man that had served us admirably. The Color Guard would be called into service again in the future.
In March 1994 the Club renamed the scholarship fund to honor Chuck. It was now to be known as the “Chuck Vella Memorial Scholarship”. You can see the details in the Club Constitution under Article X, Sections one, two and three. Details for the Color Guard are under Standard Operating Procedures.
Our first cruise of the season is scheduled for April 19th at the Solon Commons, Weather permitting. As it turned out the weather was in our favor and the cruisers enjoyed the tunes by DJ Steve and the lovely Nancy Szabo of Mainline Express. Having the huge food court with it’s multitude of fast food vendors was a major asset for our Club. Other advantages included two large, clean restrooms and a shaded outdoor seating area with tables and chairs. The Club now has it’s own “Hotline” Dial 292-0705. Press #1 for Cruise information, #2 for shows, #3 for Events, #4 for personal info and #5 for Grub Runs??? The Club also has it’s own Post Office Box at this time. The Rock’N’Roll Capital Street Machines, PO Box 39332 Solon, Ohio 44139. The PO Box is still in use today, but the hotline is long gone.
You would be hard pressed to spend long ours on Cleveland’s Downtown streets and not come home with a story. A case in point would be the Square to Square event on Saturday June 4th and Sunday June 5th. The hours were very long. Saturday was a twelve hour day from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm with Sunday going from noon to 7:00pm.This was a very high profile event to raise money for charities and help revive the Downtown area.
With Jazz bands on Saturday, Sha-Na-Na on Sunday, mini race cars on the square, street performers and a parade. In the middle of all this were our Club cars lining the streets of Downtown Cleveland. A constant procession of people approach and ask endless questions. Some were asked so often that a standard answer was given that was as intelligent as the question. Some examples include, How fast will it go? Answered with another question, “On the ground or in the air?” Rich Krawczyk had some kids believing that wings came out of his car at 175 mph. Did you drive these cars here? “No, we have them airlifted everywhere.” How much is that guys Chevy worth? “To me nothing, to him a million.” Some questions just left you shaking your head. Can I borrow that car? Are all these cars yours? How do you get so lucky to drive these cars? The monotony is broken by a bizarre looking woman running straight to Steve Estrins 1956 Cadillac. She plants a passionate kiss on the enormous hood and quickly disappeared into the crowd. Fast forward to 11:00 pm, time to go home, the big white Cadillac refuses to start. Could this have been the kiss of death?
Saturday night June 4th the Club displayed cars at Blossom Music Center as part of a WMJI event. As if all this wasn’t enough for one weekend, the Hot Rod Supernationals were at the Canfield Fairgrounds. There were 2,736 cars and trucks registered for the Friday through Sunday event.
If you could only attend one car event in your life Canfield 1994 was the place to be. The show at the Fairgrounds was beyond words. Head East seven miles from Boardman and witness a cruise so large that it took two hours to drive the three mile cruise area. The Police estimated 40,000 spectators lined the streets to watch the cruise.
CANFIELD 1994 WAS THE GEAR HEADS WOODSTOCK! Every parking lot had a mini car show. One lot was full of motorcycles with some of the crotch rocket boys putting on a burnout doughnut show. Burn outs were taking place everywhere the Police were not and a tow truck was doing wheelies. Back at the motels burn out contests were going strong into the wee hours. In the following years this all came to an end with a very strong Police presence.
The Clubs first Test-N-Tune of 1994 was held on Sunday June 26th at Thompson Drag Strip.
Back in Bedford Hts there is the 4th of July parade that the Club participates in each year. This is followed by the Friday night, July 8th Home Days Display.
The City of Bedford has planned a street festival for Friday night July 22nd and asked the Club to be one of the attractions on Broadway. Those that participated will remember some very good food and music.
Our Social Events Chairwoman Jo Ann Magyar Obreza has come up with a fun event for Club members. On Sunday, July 10th we set sail aboard the Goodtime III for a river and lake cruise. These boat cruises give the passengers a view of Cleveland that does not exist from land. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the view. One week later Jo Ann has a Club picnic planned at the Brecksville Recreation Center. This would replace our monthly meeting.
Once again our Club is one of the attractions at the Garfield Hts Home Days. Congressman Eric Fingerhut is a passenger in Club member Carl (Wolf Man) Martino’s T-Bucket. As the parade was nearing the end Congressman Fingerhut decided to jump out of the T-Bucket (which was still moving) to shake hands with the voters. As you know, T-Buckets have very large rear tires and no fenders. The Congressman fell to the ground and the right rear tire drove over his foot. The good news is no harm came to the tire.
The Club is invited to display it’s cars at the Bedford Community Street Fair on July 22nd. Unfortunately, two hours into the event it rains. Gary (Chico) Oberc blames the rain on a female Club member. This female member gets even with Chico on Sunday, July 24th at our Norwalk Drag Day by pinning him in the Porta-Potty with her car.
The Clubs 8th Annual car Show was held at the Solon Commons on August 7th. We had 119 Cars registered for the show and 35 Club cars on display. Steve Estrin Displayed his “Druid Princess” which was built by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. If you don’t remember the ’60’s you won’t have any idea what that means.
Mainline Express was the morning DJ with Dennis Chandler and the Stratophonics playing live music for the afternoon. The WMJI jukebox was once again on display providing a great backdrop for where the door prizes and awards would be presented. After the car show the Clubs softball players are off to play the Tommy Edwards Records All Star team. The All Stars had just beaten Majic 105’s team and would go on to beat us as well 7 to 6. This was a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy.
On July 30th, Chairperson Sherri Hamm showed the community of Highland Hts what an enthusiastic and proud Club we are. We display 10 cars in the parade down Wilson Mills Road. The adults loved the cars, the children loved the candy treats.
The Tuesday Cruise at Solon Commons takes on a new look in August with the WMJI on air personalities Ravenna Micelli and Tony Rizzo share DJ duties on alternating weeks. We are now in show biz, so to speak. On Saturday September 25th we bring 20 cars to Blossom for their Community Days Festival and get to enjoy a free concert while the concert fans get to enjoy our car display.
Our drag racing season ends in September at Thompson Drag Strip. For some reason our turn out at Thompson was never as strong as it was at Norwalk or Dragway 42. At that time the roads there were very rough and the strip needed some TLC. The roads have now been paved and the track fixed up, yet Club President Dennis Maczko still gets light turn outs for the Test-N-Tunes.
The show “Grease” opened on Playhouse Square on October 10th. They closed down Euclid Avenue and roped off a large area in front of the Playhouse for, you guessed it, our Club car display! All cars used were all 1970 and earlier models.
On Saturday, October 29th, after participating in the Revco grand opening in Rocky River we head to the Brown Derby Road House in Independence for our Halloween Dinner Bash. Cost was only $10.00 each with a number of members coming in costume. One Club member came dressed as a female causing some shock and confusion in the men’s room. Jeff and Barb Takacs have entered into discussion with Ronald McDonald House about them becoming our primary charity. Until now Jeff and Barb have been manning the Cruise registration table at the Commons and collected donations in a container placed on the table. The total amount collected was small in comparison to the years that would follow.
The first reorganization meeting is held by the Inter-Club Council. This is a group that plans to keep area car clubs informed about club events and pending auto oriented legislation. The first meeting which was held at the Crawford Auto Museum is to get us acquainted. The ICC plans regular meetings starting in January 1995. We are a part of this new group.
At our November meeting a motion was passed to set a standard rate for appearances at various events for groups or organizations that request a display of cars. The rate was set at $25.00 per car, with a five car four hour minimum and $5.00 per car each additional hour. Back by popular demand is another bus trip to Sharon, PA. On November 27th at 9:00am a full bus leaves the Solon Commons. The first stop is the Christmas display and shopping at Kraynaks then on to Daffins Chocolate Factory for sweets and their chocolate wonderland display. . From there we move on to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner. Before heading for home there is a shopping spree downtown at the clothing and shoe stores.
The art work for the first Solon Commons Cruise Nite T-shirts was approved at the December meeting. It features the front of Food Court with five Club cars on the front. A list of participating Solon Commons merchants are on the back. Shirts sell at $10 for club members and $12 for non-members.
We end the year with the annual Christmas party and a food collection for the Inter Church Council. The Club adds $300.00 cash. Ron Fox uses the money to purchase additional food for the needy.
It’s now 1995, the Club is approaching it’s ninth anniversary. We are also attending our ninth Auto-Rama. The Club has seventeen members cars displayed with fourteen of those part of the Club display and three as independent participants. All Club cars in attendance receive awards, with five receiving multiple awards! The club once again receives the “Best Club Display” and the “ISCA Awards”.
The year also starts off on a sad note with the loss of another Club member. One time Vice President Steve Kosarko passed away suddenly on January 20th. His dark blue 1964 Chevy Impala is still with us today. Club member Joanna Obreza bought the car and has lovingly maintained it.
On the positive side, Bedford Hts has remodeled the Community Center. A new rule is now in effect, “No Smoking” in the building. Our Club meetings no longer take place in a smelly gray haze.
Our Tuesday night cruises at the Solon Commons start on May 2nd. On May 19th through 21st we are the host Club for the Hot Rod Magazine Power Festival held at Norwalk Raceway Park.
On June 11th the Club is invited to participate in Solon’s Strawberry Festival Parade. This was our first parade in Solon. Many more have passed since.
Our 1995 racing season consisted of three Test and Tune Events. All three were held at Thompson Drag Raceway.
During the summer months the Club is invited to display our cars in three events that would be new and different. As members of the Inner Club Council (ICC) we take part in a fund raising event for the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum. The show was held at the Cuyahoga County Airport where the museum brought out some of their finest cars to display. As a backdrop for the cars, the museum had a display of rare WWII aircraft.
On Labor Day we are parked in the middle of a complete air force. Our Club cars are on display at the Cleveland Air Show. This would literally be the “Hottest” show we have ever been in when bales of hay too close to a generator next to our display burst into flames! From there the fire spread to a tent. Luckily, no vehicles were damaged and no one was hurt.
Our third request for a car display starts off as a “drive by”. The City of Cleveland requested about fifty cars for a cruise-by at the All American City Celebration held at the not yet opened Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
With a very short notice the Club shows up on June 22nd with 43 cars. Unfortunately, we are separated from the crowds of people by construction trailers, cement barriers and fencing. If that wasn’t bad enough, what people we did see were facing the other way.
From there we displayed our cars in a huge empty parking lot. Cleveland forgot to inform the crowd of our display. The day wasn’t a complete waste. On the way home we stopped at a sleepy little cruise-in at Astorhurst. We bought dinners and ice cream, we danced and hula hooped. DJ Ray, Astorhurst and all present will remember the Thursday night the Rock and Roll Capitol Street Machines showed up.
The Clubs calendar of events was pretty full in 1995. With all the usual parades, the Bedford Hts Street Festival, the Clubs July 16th picnic in Brecksville and another Goodtime Cruise on the lake.
On September 10th the Club brings a “cookout” to the Ronald McDonald House. As we cook and eat we attract the attention of a curious person standing outside the fence. “What’s going on?”, “I’m standing here waiting for my bus and you’re making me hungry”. Being the good folks that we are we invite him in for a hot dog and hamburger. We had 38 Club cars on display that day.
The question of whether to continue with our annual car show has come up. Some people say we are putting on a free car show every Tuesday night. Car shows are on the way out. Car owners don’t want to pay to display and why would a spectator pay to see a car on Sunday that is displayed for free on Tuesday?
On August 13th the Club puts on our 9th annual car show. One hundred twenty seven cars register. The profits from the show are donated the Ronald McDonald House.
On occasion Club members would be paid for displaying their cars. The Rock-N-Roll Extravaganza held at Shaker Square on August 19th was the first paid event for our members. The Shaker Square Merchants Association paid each displayed vehicle $10.00 in addition to food certificates. About 35 members got to relax, eat and enjoy the music of Sonny Geraci.
Joanne Magyar-Obreza and Dave Zuber were kept busy with all the social and special events throughout the year. The highlight of the year was the Fall Social at the Brown Derby Roadhouse on October 28th. With a cash bar, DJ, door prizes. Good food and good people. All this for only ten bucks each!
Because the statute of limitations has run out, here is the story of the year. A last minute call came from the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. They requested a 55 – 57 Chevy and some cars from the 50’s and 60’s. The drivers were to display their cars and hand out goody bags at the Hall of Fame opening on September 1st. Skip Petronzio, Nick Cacolici, Lou Morganti, Joanne Magyar-Obreza, Rich Krawczyk and Lori Cherry responded.
Rich Krawczyk tells his story of standing at the front door of the Hall of Fame with our Club cars parked out front. He looks up into the sky and tells Chuck Vella “You may not be here tonight but your dream has come true”. Our Club and our cars were on the front steps of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame! The grand opening of a world famous landmark.
One member was not so happy about standing on the outside of that front door. It was blocking him from a $1000.00 per plate dinner. After passing out all his goody bags and the main rush subsides, Lou Morganti pulls a “Clark Kent”. Lou is dressed to the “Nines” under his Club colors. Lou took off his Club Colors, straightened up his dress clothes and walked in like he belonged. (Authors note: Lou Morganti dressed up, looks like he belongs.) He found an empty seat and fell into a conversation with Chuck Berry, Dion and Don Webster. I forgot to ask Lou about the food.
Technically, the year ends with the Christmas party. In reality the party would go on each Tuesday night. Depending on the weather conditions, crowds of 20 to 50 or more Club members would gather at the Solon Commons Food Court.
1996 starts with the traditional Auto-Rama. The first time our Club participated in this event was February of 1987. It’s hard to believe that this is our 10th year in a row participating in Cleveland’s first auto show of the season.
One year later at the 1997 Auto-Rama the Club is presented with a commemorative 10th year participation patch to be worn on our Club jackets. The patch bears the year ’97 which, in all actuality 1997 was our 11th year of participation. Someone erred.
The Auto-Rama ran from February 2nd to the 4th and was unfortunately marred by the inexcusable behavior of a certain element that twice caused near riot conditions on the lower level. Arrests were made and some cars were towed away. Fortunately, no damage was reported to anyone’s car or display. None the less the weekend was still scarred.
Once again we are awarded the “Best Club Display” along with $200.00. Out of the twelve cars that were on display eleven received awards, with some of those receiving multiple awards.
A joke that started on a WMJI radio program took on a life of it’s own. The joke resulted in the first ever ISCA (International Show Car Association) presentation of the “Weedwacker Award” to the 12th car in our display.
On Monday February 5th the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum opens a three month long display of muscle cars. The 15 cars that are displayed all belong to the Rock-N-Roll Capital Street Machines! The cars are displayed at the foot of the main stairway. Our four foot in diameter Club logo is the focal point as you enter. Yes, this is another proud moment in our history.
Here is a brief recap of our 1995 charitable efforts. A Bedford Hts single mother and her two children are given a $200.00 gift certificate. The Christmas food collection is turned over to the Bedford Hts Community cupboard. The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is our main charity. The collection box that is put out at the Tuesday night cruises all summer nets $231.10. The Club rounds out that amount to $500.00!
Take a moment here and reflect on the results of current charity events. If you have been with us long enough you can see the vast changes that have taken place in the last 10 years.
1996 is a year filled with events that were sure to please any car buff. Our Tuesday night cruises officially start on May 14th. The Hot Rod Magazine Power Festival at Norwalk Raceway Park keeps us busy from May 17th to the 19th and on May 28th the Club presents it’s first “Cruiser of the Year” award to a 1995 Solon Commons cruiser.
What good is your muscle car if you don’t exercise it on a regular basis? Thompson Drag Raceway is the perfect “Health Spa” for your car. June 2nd, July 7th and September 22nd are the dates scheduled to give your car a workout.
If you like parades there was the Solon Strawberry Festival parade on June 9th, then our 10th Bedford to Bedford Hts 4th of July parade not to mention providing escort cars for the 6K and 10K races in Bedford Hts.. The Club had been escorting these races for a number of years and continued doing so until we moved from Bedford Hts to Solon.
If you like to show off your car, we had a few places for you. Club members participated in the Bedford Hts Home Days on June 28th, the Garfield Hts Home Days on July 6th, TRW open house, the Stow Falls Center grand opening and the Klima Gardens Clambake.
Do you like Rock and Roll music with your display? We had 15 cars on display at the 1996 WMJI Moondog Coronation Ball. Members that displayed their cars at this event got to watch the Casino’s, Chiffons, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, The Capris, Gary “US” Bonds, The Cadillacs, LaVerne Baker, Bo Diddley and Little Richard perform. I don’t have enough space here to describe Little Richards behavior that night. I will just say it was like no other show from his younger days. I should add that we all had some very good seats.
The City of Bedford held another Street Festival on July 20th with our Club participating. The Crawford held it’s second annual Wings and Wheels show at the Cuyahoga County Airport in August with more Club participation. The Club also participates when the City of Willoughby holds it’s annual cruise and we show up with 24 cars.
Gone is our annual car show. After nine years of hosting a car show we call it quits. Our Tuesday cruise is out drawing the best of our car shows and require a lot less effort. (This statement was true 10 years ago. The Tuesday night cruises have now become very complex) Still with us are the Club picnics. The 1996 picnic takes place on July 21st.
Do you remember the song “I Can’t Drive 55”? On June 28th, 1996 we can now go 65 MPH! Now I can finally take my car out of first gear.
On August 18th the Club participated in the MDA Benefit Softball Tournament. We co-sponsored the event with Chuck Rambaldo of Tommy Edwards Records. This took place at the Solon Community Park.
On September 21st the Club celebrates it’s 10th anniversary as part of our Fall social. We booked the party room at the Independence Brown Derby Roadhouse. To mark this milestone in Club history the members are issued a 10th anniversary Club patch for our Club jackets. A picture of Chuck Vella’s car as he wished it to be appears in the center of the patch. The Club name surrounds the picture and the years 1986 – 1996 appear at the bottom.
Our officially scheduled Tuesday night cruises end on September 24th and is followed by a Sunday, September 29th Super Cruise. Even after the season had ended the lot would still be full on Tuesday nights. On one particular Tuesday night in October one of our current DJ’s, Firehouse Rock (Bob Shimits) showed up with a 1941 fire truck and played music for free from the back of the truck to a large appreciative crowd.
The plans for Cruisin’ the Commons 1997 are underway. In 1997 the Club will be moving the Tuesday night cruise onto the new rear Solon Commons parking lot. The 500 new parking spaces and the controlled access to the lot are a dream come true.
In the past certificates of appreciation were given to members that helped out at Club events. In 1996 the Horsepower Incentive Program was developed. Members that worked at the cruise or other club events were awarded Horsepower Points. The Points would be redeemable towards Club dues or merchandise. The value of the Points are determined by the board each year. To the best of my knowledge the value has always been 50 cents per Point up to the year 2006. Keep in mind that the value can change at any time.
The year ends with the 10th annual Club Christmas party. Santa Claus was there for the children, presents for all and a good meal. Once again we collect canned goods for the Bedford Hts Food Cupboard. The Club also donated 17 turkeys and collected $190.00 to help a needy family.
THIS IS WHO WE ARE AND THIS IS WHAT WE DO!
Your fellow cruiser, Joe Artale, member since 1987.
Auto-Rama ’97 was a departure from anything the Club had done in the past. It had two themes. The first theme was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Gone was the macho image of gear heads and racers. Fairy tale caricatures are displayed with each of the eight cars on display. An added touch never before seen were the helium filled cow udders.
The second theme was based on the Clubs 10th appearance in a row at the Cleveland Auto-Rama. Someone flunked math 101 here. Our first Club display at Auto-Rama was in February 1987. My ten fingers tell me February 1996 was the 10th appearance.
The point of all this is we were each given a patch to wear on our jackets. The patch read, “Commemorating 10 Years of Participation” Auto-Rama” “Cleveland ’97 Ohio”. If you happen to see one of these patches keep in mind they are in error. 1997 was our 11th year of participation.
According to our February 1997 newsletter our display was crowned “Best Club Display”. Each of the eight cars received awards ranging from first to third place.
Something new was added in 1997, a monthly Cruise that actually went on a Cruise. On May 4th, thirty-nine (39) Club members cruised down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We toured the restored buildings in the area and paused for a photo session. Each of our cars was photographed in front of a restored 1950’s style Pure gas station.
Having finished our tour of the park we headed off to “Whitey’s Booze and Burgers” in Richfield. Dinner and door prizes completed the day.
Last year (1996) work was started on a 500 space parking lot behind the Solon Commons Food Court. The project has now been completed. On May 20th the Club proudly opened the 1997 Cruise season in this huge new display area at the Solon Commons.
We opened with the live band “Eddie and the Edsels”. Our opening night sponsor was “Slam Jams” and the featured vehicles for the night were all “GM”.
A new magazine was brought out in 1997 and our Tuesday night Cruise was featured in that first edition of “Cruisin’ Times Magazine”. On the cover was a familiar looking ’53 Merc. One decade later Club member Gary “Chico” Oberc would again have the honor of seeing his ’53 Merc gracing the front cover for the 10th anniversary issue of Cruisin’ Times.
We ran into a problem with our Club jackets in 1997. They suddenly stopped producing our chosen style jacket. We finally managed to find another manufacturer to produce them. Ten years later in 2007 the same problem has resurfaced. History seems to have a way of repeating itself.
The Club had three Test-N-Tune events scheduled for 1997, June, August and September.
Our June monthly Cruise took us to the “Grand Opening” of the West Market Plaza in Fairlawn. Robert L. Stark Enterprises had asked the Club to display our cars at this special event.
On August 11th, 1990 our Club had a major roll in starting the annual Mayfield Village Cruise. The event was a major success due to our efforts. Our reward for all our efforts was a complete loss of recognition in the following years.
On June 21st, 1997 Mayfield Village once again asked the Club for assistance. This time they needed help identifying cars that should be admitted to the Cruise. I believe the answer was “Thanks, but no thanks!”
Other Club events in June included our annual weekend in Bucyrus, Ohio for their Cruise. The downtown streets of Bucyrus are closed to regular traffic in the evening. Show cars are everywhere and you can see and hear them cruisin’ the main drag. The Bedford Hts Home Days are once again graced with our display of Club cars.
On June 28th, nineteen (19) Club cars head off to Willoughby, Ohio for their second annual Cruise. We assisted them in getting this event started in 1996. A large number of Club members participated in this event. Everything was free including goodie bags. This year they charged us to park and we get a “Thanks for coming, hope you can join us again next year”.
A family man/home owner/Club member would be hard pressed to keep up with the Club events scheduled for July of 1997.
These events included the Bedford Hts 4th of July parade, The Garfield Hts home Days parade on July 5th and our monthly Cruise on July 12th. Once again Robert L. Stark Enterprises has a “Grand Opening”. This time it is the “Shops of Willoughby Hills”, formerly known as Loehmann’s Plaza.
On July 19th the Club displayed our cars at the Bedford Street Dance on Broadway. The street was closed to traffic and the roadway was filled with vendors, people and music. On July 20th the Club held it’s annual picnic in Brecksville.
On July 27th the Club participated in the Highland Hts Home Days Parade and won 1st place in the “Auto Division”. The first place prize of $100.00 the Club received was donated to the Bedford Firefighter’s who were collecting money for Bedford Firefighter Terry Tench who recently found out he had Lou Gehrig’s disease.
We were the featured Car Club at the Streetsboro Wal-Mart Cruise on July 31st. Add five (5) Tuesday night Cruises at Solon Commons and one monthly Club meeting and that averages out to one Club event every 2.4 days!!
With all this Club activity we have caught the attention of Plain Dealer Columnist Ann Gelether. Almost every Sunday our Club is mentioned in the Automotive section of the paper.
Up to this point charity events have been a regular part of our Club activities. This year we have our first annual “Charity Night”. The net proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House. On August 26th we pack the Solon Commons with people and cars. Dennis Chandler and the Stratophonics perform first followed by Memory Lane. Both groups donated their time for this event. A replica of a St. Louis jukebox, a VCR and a color TV were given away as raffle prizes. 50/50 tickets were sold to help raise money. Channels 19 and 43 covered the event on the evening news. Our efforts were called a great success. The proceeds totaled $1,256.53!
“Cruisin’ by the Bay” took place on September 5th and 6th and had become another favorite with our Club members. Each year a few dozen members spent the weekend in downtown Sandusky for this annual Cruise event. Due in part to it’s location in the downtown bay area this Cruise was unique. The area was always well maintained to take advantage of the bay area view.
On Friday the downtown area was shut down to local traffic. Hundreds of show cars lined the streets. Open cruising started at 7:30 P.M. with “rapping” (loud exhaust) and flame shooting contests being the nightly attractions.
On Saturday the stage was set for a static car show with limited cruising and some contests. “Blind driver” and the “slow crawl” were for the normal contestants.
Ask anyone that witnessed the 1997 Panty Race to recount the event and they will laugh before they can speak. Two of our Club members had the crowd laughing and then cheering. Then the judges were loudly booed when they disqualified Dave Zuber and Bill Ellis for taking advantage of a gray area in the rules. Here is how it went down. A pickup truck belonging to Summit Racing pulled up to the starting line. This was a speed equipment test vehicle. The timers started as Dave and Bill jump out. They each must put on a size small pair of panties over their double wide clothed bodies. Previous contestants had problems with their shoes tripping them up. Dave and Bill are shoeless. Step two requires driving to mid course and swapping panties and drivers.
The crowd went wild at the sound of the roaring engine and screaming tires. Dave and Bill swapped panties as the cloud of tire smoke drifted by mid course. The smoke and noise was now attracting people from near by streets.
Having changed panties and drivers the boys crossed the finish line in record time, sideways, engine screaming and the tires near ruin. As they stopped the tailgate popped open and their stash of melons and peaches were sent flying like bowling balls.
Dave argued that nowhere in the rule book are the words shoeless, reckless, speeding or littering. Unfortunately, the judges would not yield. The disappointed crowd booed their decision.
Our final Test-N-Tune of the season was held on September 14th. The event drew over 160 cars which required opening additional staging lanes to accommodate the volume.
Once again our Club is called back to active duty at Norwalk Raceway Park. A three day event running from September 19th to the 21st requires a large work force. Take charge people are needed to judge show cars and to aid with parking, registration and racing. Unfortunately, heavy rains and cold weather from Friday to mid Saturday kept the show cars away. Everything had dried up enough by Sunday to allow the race program to take place.
Our new 500 space parking lot at Solon Commons has served us well for our weekly Tuesday night Cruises. With only two driveways we now had complete control of the show area. The Food Court, restrooms and easy freeway access made this the perfect location for a car cruise.
Our older members had become accustomed to seeing 40 or so cars at Pal’s and a hundred plus cars at our annual car shows. They were astonished when they saw the new lot completely filled for the first time.
The 1997 Cruise season came to a close on Sunday, October 19th with our Halloween Cruise. By now, we are without a doubt the biggest weekly Cruise in the area. Welcome to the “Big Time”
Our Fall Social/Dinner Dance is given a “Prom” theme this year. On Saturday night, October 25th, we ate, drank and danced at the Sherwin Party Center in Maple Hts. The cost for the buffet dinner with open bar, and a DJ cost members $17.50 each and non-members $27.50 each. Ron and Nancy Fox were our “Prom King and Queen”.
One hundred and fifteen (115) Club members and their families were treated to dinner at our annual Christmas party on December 21st. We all gathered at the Bedford Hts Community Center for a fun event that pleases the children and attracts an early visit from a gift laden Santa Claus. As always the Club donates to the food bank.
The 32nd Annual Cleveland Auto-Rama took place February 6th through the 8th, 1998. This was our 12th year of participation in Cleveland’s largest car show. Eleven Club members displayed their cars around a landscaped illuminated fountain.
This years theme was “Rock-N-Roll Capital Street Machines Auto Museum” Our efforts were rewarded with a second (2nd) place award for our display. Six of our cars received 1st place awards in their respected classes. Three cars received 2nd place awards and the final two received a 3rd and 4th place awards.
Sam LaNasa suddenly found himself taking over as Club President after the abrupt departure of Debra Sue Tobak. At this point in Sam’s Club career he has served as Secretary, Vice President and now President. He has served each position with confidence, dignity and honor.
The City of Detroit, Michigan held its Auto-Rama several weeks after the Cleveland Auto-Rama. On February 14th, 46 Club members took the bus trip to Cobo Hall to see some of the countries top custom cars. General admission to this show was $12.00 in 1998. Club friend, Ron Heitman negotiated a price of $5.00 per person for our Club members.
All day trips such as this one always included a stop at some restaurant on the return trip home. On one trip to Detroit we ate at a rather nice restaurant a few miles from Cobo Hall. On this trip however, after traveling a mile or so it became apparent we were not heading into one of Detroit’s finer areas. This had become a trip through a war torn third world ghost town.
Ahead you could see signs of life, a building with some lights. As we approached you could see a high cyclone fence topped with barbed and razor wire, surrounding a windowless building and its parking lot. This was our destination. Safely inside it became apparent that at one time this restaurant was a top attraction in a once thriving downtown Detroit. The food was good and well worth the trip.
On other Detroit trips we ate at safer locations including Olive Garden in Dearborn or the Old country Buffet in Toledo. The busses were always top notch, spotless and comfortable. We would show movies that were viewed on multiple screens. If someone should need Psychotherapy we always had our own Dr. Mary Lou on board.
Plans had been on the drawing board for a third entrance to the Solon Commons rear parking lot since 1997. At first a gate and a separate drive at the South end of the lot seemed like a good idea. It would alleviate the traffic jams at the end of the Cruises.
With the West drive blocked off we had complete control of the show area from the East drive. At times it would be necessary to reject cars that were not acceptable or show worthy. This was an advantage we were not aware of at the time.
The rear drive became a reality in 1999, a year later than anticipated. Along with the new drive came a new type of cruiser. Those cars that had been rejected at the front gate simply drove around the block to the unmanned rear gate. You can find these “Back Door Cruisers” parked somewhere in the rear of the lot. They don’t register their cars or support our Cruise in any way.
Our first official cruise night for 1998 was on May 19th. Chevrolet was the featured car of the night with 425 show cars in attendance.
The Clubs first Mystery Cruise took place on June 20th, 1998. Departure was from the Solon Commons at 2:45 P.M. The trip was to take one hour and cover 34 miles to a secret destination. Each participant was to follow a map and drive at their own pace. It wasn’t long before some found it hard to drive while reading directions. This lead to a parade following a leader.
Stop signs and traffic lights quickly broke up the parade and people started getting lost. After regrouping, the cruise ended at Georges Dinner Bell Restaurant in Painsville. Georges was known for its long running feud with the city. As his battle with the city intensified he resorted to painting his building in questionable color schemes and bring in farm animals to graze on his property. He was making news headlines on a regular basis. Georges was also known for its good food. Most of the 35 members that ate there seemed to agree.
A second Mystery Cruise took place on Saturday, September 19th. 12 Club members Departed the Solon Commons, drove through the Cuyahoga Valley, South to our secret destination which turned out to be the Skyway Drive-in Diner in Fairlawn, Ohio. After burgers and fries we drove to Winks Drive-in Diner for their Saturday night cruise.
Other events for 1998 would include the Bedford/Bedford Hts 4th of July Parade in which we won 1st place in our division. On July 5th we participated in the Garfield Hts Home Days. Five days later on July 10th we displayed several dozen cars at the Bedford Hts Home Days. Saturday, July 11th we had the honor of displaying our cars at Loehman’s Plaza. One week later we were the featured attraction on Broadway Ave. in Bedford. This year it is called a “Street Fair”, with sidewalk sales, food and live bands.
Test and Tune events took place on June 28th, July 19th and September 20th. We had over 100 cars at our first drag event on the 28th. On July 19th the turnout was down to 78 cars racing with ten of them belonging to Club members. From there everything went down hill. Sunday, September 20th was our third and last drag event of the year, and guess what??? It rained!
With beautiful weather on Thursday night July 23rd our Club was the featured Club at the Wal Mart Car Cruise in Streetsboro. Our members displayed 28 cars that night.
The 1998 Charity Cruise was held on August 25th at the Solon Commons. The day started out a bit wet. Even though the crowd count was on the light side all the Charity Night Tickets had been sold, with all the proceeds of the evening going to the Ronald McDonald House. The annual cruise in Sandusky, Ohio, “Cruisin’ by the Bay” took place on September 11th. Several dozen Club members reserved rooms and stayed the entire weekend. This was one of the nicer annual cruises in Ohio.
The last event the Club participated in was at the Stow Falls Center on October 3rd. Our Club was part of the main attraction designed to attract shoppers to the area. This was also a paid event to benefit our treasury.
On Sunday October 22nd, 94 Club members and friends, filling two busses and a spill over group following in cars departed the Solon Commons at 10:30 A.M. Heading East, the destination for our Fall Cruise would be Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon, Pennsylvania.
Sharon, PA had many attractions other than the Drive-in Diner everyone was familiar with. It was a shoppers paradise. Chocolate lovers could spend hours at Daffins Chocolate Factory drooling over the candy and chocolate wonderland display.
The last stop of the day was at Kraynak’s in Hermitige, PA. This one stop store has something for everyone. On weekends people are lined up to see the Christmas Wonderland display.
A new program was introduced in August of 1998 called the “Club Member of the Month” The program would require members to B visible, B active and B involved to qualify.
By September, Dave Zuber would be the first person to demonstrate the three B’s. By never missing a Club event, taking pictures for our albums and serving as Newsletter Editor. Dave was chosen as the first “Club Member of the Month”. A twenty five dollar gift certificate to Applebee’s Restaurant went with the nomination.
Our October recipient of this prestigious award went to Gary “Chico” Oberc and Mary Lou Krawczyk had the honor of being chosen for November. John Phillips finished the year as Decembers recipient.
The cruise season was to end with the Halloween Cruise on October 18th. Our entire cruise season had been plagued by rain except for 7 nights. Luckily October 18th wasn’t one of them.
Donetta Lemmerman-Maczko and Mary Lou Krawczyk made arrangements with the Sherwin Party Center to Host our Fall Social. This was a dress up Saturday night event on November 7th.
Sixty (60) members enjoyed a buffet dinner consisting of meats, fish, salads, sides and desserts. Dinner and dance music was provided by DJ Troy. There were corsages for the ladies and boutonnieres for the gentlemen.
The highlight of the evening was the “Ron Fox Roast”. This fun filled evening cost members a mere $18.50 each. Non-members paid $28.50 per person, still a great bargain.
Donetta and Mary Lou were busy again in December. They handled the arrangements for our Club Christmas party. This is one tradition that, except for location, has not changed throughout the years. There was a brief meeting, followed by dinner with our friends. Santa arrived thrilling the children with gifts and the adults with door prizes. The Club also contributed non-perishable food to the Food Bank.
Your fellow cruiser, Joe Artale, member since 1987.