Gladys is a kid among elders at classic car show

Mary Alice Powell with  Gladys, her 1991 Olds, at their first car show.
Mary Alice Powell with Gladys, her 1991 Olds, at their first car show.

HUDSON, Mich. — It was a first for Gladys and me and we had such a good time chances are we will enter another car show.

Gladys, my cherished 1991 Oldsmobile with 200,335 miles, and I drove into the downtown Hudson Market House parking lot in the company of 77 other classy automobiles and their proud owners.

Gladys was far from the star of the show-and-tell event, but she was the youngest and perhaps the only car being shown by the original owner.

I am proud of her shiny white finish and plush blue velvet interior. It also is a plus that she runs like a top although I didn’t raise her hood like the other showmen did to show off gleaming engines. Her running parts are a lot like mine — they show signs of record miles.

Besides competing with the champions, she deserved an outing after being stored in the former bowling alley in Hudson, where she was safe and clean. For our debut, my hand-printed sign to display on the windshield was elementary compared to the commercial ones on many of the classics.

Gladys’ ID included more than her name, age, and mileage. I added “Made in America” in red, white, and blue. For that I received compliments, especially from Rudy Senia, Brooklyn, Mich., who was selling antenna American flags for $1.

“I bring the flags home from Florida to sell at the car shows in hopes people will be more patriotic,” Mr. Senia said. The ’69 Corvair he brought to the show is hauled in a trailer from Brooklyn to Florida for winter shows there.

Car buffs have a choice of several car shows each weekend in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. Although I have a longtime interest in restored classic cars and have attended a few shows, I made the decision to enter Gladys because of the cause.

It was the 11th year for the Cars for Kids fund-raiser sponsored by Jerry and Ella Green for their annual Christmas project for needy families. The show annually draws a big crowd and runs smoothly because of Jerry and Ella’s large volunteer crew of friends and family who have coffee and rolls ready for the 9 a.m. opening, hot dogs for lunch, numerous money-raising drawings during the six-hour show, lively music, and a silent auction.

I didn’t expect to win one of the 21 prize plaques against a field of beautifully restored and officially certified classic automobiles and trucks that dated back into the ’40s. It was just fun and for a good cause on a sunny Saturday afternoon to join in the camaraderie that I am sure is common at all car shows.

The shows are social gatherings of friends made at other shows and in families where the old car bug affects several generations as it has the Green family that entered six cars, including Jerry’s ’49 Plymouth and a ’50 Buick.

Jerry Watson of Bryan, Ohio, looks for shows to attend that raise money for good causes like Cars for Kids. He enters his ’63 Ford Fairlane in an average of 10 shows a season.

Nick Gubbins of West Unity, Ohio, used the time as an opportunity to polish the interior chrome of his ’69 spectrum blue Mustang. Nick said he has been trading cars since he was 15 years old and bought the one at the show two days before his 18th birthday. He has two more Mustangs. “I love my cars and like to work on them whenever I have free time,” he said.

Larry Harris of Brooklyn preferred to relax in a comfortable lawn chair near his ’54 yellow Lincoln Capri with green top that was right up there with the ’55 Chevrolets as my favorites.

Mr. Harris hurt my feelings when he said Gladys is only a used car, not an antique car.

But now that Oldsmobiles are no longer manufactured, Mr. Harris advised that she could be entered in the Oldsmobile Orphans Club.

The car show is but one aspect of Jerry and Ella’s year-round work to achieve their goal to deliver a Merry Christmas of food and gifts to 10 families in the Hudson area. The families in need are recommended by school faculties.

My friendship with the Greens began last fall at their kitchen table when they showed many of the gifts they had purchased for families and shared the long lists of groceries they would buy. On our first visit, Jerry sported a full white beard, fit for any well-groomed Santa. As he said, “The children can’t pull my beard off because it’s real.”

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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