Allen Calcote started his new assignment as President in an efficient manner as we all knew he would. Fourteen of us attended and that number did not include Dick Williams, for once, who was ill and hospitalized. [We understand that Dick is doing better since the meeting.] We also had one guest, Ed Frazier of Kingsport who has a 1976 MGB. Ben Bailey, new Driving Chairman, started things off by passing out a short survey for everyone to fill out about driving activities. The purpose of this survey was to seek some consensus as to what types of drives were favored and what destinations were favored. This survey lead to a protracted discussion of schedules and destinations for future drives. Destinations mentioned included day trips to Greeneville, TN and the many historic sites there as well as other locations many of which would require an overnight stay. A trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to some location such as the Peaks of Otter Lodge or Little Switzerland was considered. Also mentioned was a trip to Cherokee, NC and to Pigeon Forge, TN where there is a car museum and, of course, many other attractions of interest. Other destinations that were mentioned were Mount Mitchell in North Carolina near Asheville and Pipestem Resort in West Virginia. The latter overnight trips would have to be carefully coordinated ahead of time. Ben Stated that we would continue for the time being with the current schedule as follows: 2nd Saturday: Leave at 8:00 AM on 8 Feb from Rush Street Grill to Greeneville, NC. 4th Sunday: Leave at 1:00 PM from Rush Street to an undetermined location Ben will evaluate the survey questionnaires to better determine the wishes of the group.
London's daily Telegraph has recently published their Top 20 and Bottom 20 rankings of cars for the century. Due to space limitations only ten of each will be given here, but they are interesting. Top 10: 1. Mini (now in its 37th year!) 2. Morris Minor (known as "the poached egg") 3. Austin Seven (£165 in 1922) 4. Land Rover (since 1948) 5. Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (still high on the list since 1906) 6. Bentley 3 litre 7. Aston Martin DB-5 (yes, the James Bond Aston) 8. Jaguar E-Type (unarguable choice) 9. MGB (ditto) 10. Jaguar XK-120 (since 1948) Bottom 10: 1. Sunbeam Mabley (diamond patterned wheel arrangement) 2. Austin Allegro 3. Rolls Vanden Plas 4-Litre R 4. Austin Maxi (cable-actuated gearbox) 5. Hillman Imp (Rootes downfall) 6. Reliant Sabra 7. Singer Airstream ( Chrysler Airflow copy) 8. Bond 875 (easily tipped over) 9. Lea Francis Lynx (not even one sold) 10. Morris Ital (spiffed-up Marina)
This remarkable winter, gentle reader, has reminded me of one that I spent long ago and far away "at the North" as your Civil War era ancestors used to say.
This all began when I was standing in mud up to my knees in Biloxi, Mississippi on the day I received notice from the USAF of being posted to Kincheloe Air Force Base, MI. That was all the description that I got from Uncle Sam.
Somebody said that Kincheloe AFB was in Michigan, so I knew that it must be so.
Summonsing an Atlas, I discovered that in the very upper part of Michigan, the map showed a little airplane there, near a place called Saulte Ste. Marie.
So, right or wrong, that was where I went. Arriving in May, there was still snow under the trees! I just wasn't sure that this was the place for me and my (t)rusty TR-4. It wasn't.
The Upper Peninsula (or U P, as it is called) had 120" of snow that winter, and that was a record low. Temperatures dropped to -40°. If you were stupid enough to place your bare hand on your car or an airplane, it stuck as though to an ice cube. And IT HURT to peel your hand away afterwards. Simply starting any car other than a Volkswagen was a real ritual. A 100 watt light bulb in the engine compartment helped.
I went out one morning to discover that the TR would start, but wouldn't go anywhere because it was literally frozen to the parking lot! I didn't know this right away until I stripped out a spline from one of my wire wheels by simply trying to get the car to move.
The snow blew in between the window and the convertible top and I didn't care that much. I worried more about the piles of snow on the sides of the roads everywhere that could fall in on top of my WHITE car and my chances of survival in that event. But I managed that also. From there, I went on to more fun and games in Southeast Asia.