Atlantic City was the location for GT-46. It was held by the North American Council of MG Registers, a joint event of all the major MG clubs in North America, held every five years. A large majority of MGs shipped to the U.S. ended up in the eastern states. Some of the largest turn-outs of MGAs for NAMGAR have been at GTs in this area. We expected to see MG models not often seen around our part of the country (Midwest). Alas, the turn-out was significantly less than anticipated: 313 registrations vs.1300 in Indy during GT-21, the first all-MG meet. This was partly because of the event being on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and partly because of the location. Also, there were no Canadian or international attendees due to COVID.
Ultimately, we decided to attend, but we did not drive PRNCZ. At the beginning of 2020, we attended another type of event in Cherry Hill, NJ. Although we were in our VWA (Volkswagen of America), the experience of driving through Philadelphia soured us on the idea of driving a 1959, two seat British sports car, through that kind of traffic to get to Atlantic City. Some folks did it, but, not being as spry and nimble behind the wheel as we once were, we decided to take the VWA once again. Thank goodness for air conditioning, too!
In anticipation of taking PRNCZ, Steven planned a route using the old Blue Highways. We decided to stick with that plan and take our time, seeing the countryside and visiting friends we haven't seen in years. We left on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Our first stop was to see long time friends from our years in Columbus, OH. We also decided to drive by the old homestead. The area where we once worked was entirely unrecognizable: GPS was required. The area were we had lived had not changed too much: updated houses and a few new businesses.
Boarding Cape May - Lewes Ferry
We then drove on to Lancaster, OH to visit our friend Dave Ream, an early NAMGAR member and supporter (GT-13). Dave helped us establish the Buckeye A's in 1977, host numerous local events and NAMGAR Regionals, and introduced us to the winding back roads of the Hocking Hills in Ohio. We could have reminisced all night — and almost did. We also celebrated Dave's 90th birthday! However, we were happy to depart the area: it was hot and very humid. Dave said it was unusual weather. We don't think so. We were told by our then employer in 1976, as an incentive to move to Columbus, that we would be playing golf and cutting grass right through Christmas. We were actually snowed in for a week one year, and it was so humid and hot during our time there, you could plant radishes in the house carpet: we didn't have air conditioning then.
To get to Atlantic City from the west is a challenge. Because of the traffic around DC, Philly and NYC, there are no desirable routes. We ended up routing ourselves through northern Maryland, then shooting a gap just north of DC, crossing the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis. Then crossing the DelMar peninsula until we reached the ferry terminal in Lewes.
We crossed Delaware Bay on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which was reminiscent of our trip home from GT-2 in Wildwood Crest, NJ. We were early for our 2:45PM crossing and lucked out. There was just enough room on the 12:15PM departure, so they loaded us up, too. The crossing is only about an hour. Too bad, because it is delightful on a sunny, warm day and the bar tender was particularly good and chatty.
For these types of trips, Steven usually uses his trusty Tom-Tom GPS system, which has some advantages over Goggle Maps. For this trip though, he used Google Maps and we learned something new about Google Maps. After a "health break," we wondered how Google would respond to the query: "Hello Google, I have to pee." After a few seconds, he replied: "OK. I'll hold your spot while you're gone." We had a good laugh!
From Cape May, we drove to Wildwood Crest and had lunch at the Bal Harbour Inn restaurant where the GT-2 banquet was held. What memories that conjured up! The hotel looks the same, but the beach has changed, alot: it is now further out into the Atlantic with a large sand dune in the way. And, yes, the county is still "dry." Mouse Over the images below to see the changes.
|Diane Relives GT-02||Imagine This Area Full of MGAs||Our Dining Corner|
Then we were off to find Harrah's in Atlantic City. Google Maps had us routed on the Garden State Parkway. Since we were way ahead of schedule, we turned east towards the barrier islands and traveled through the communities along the shore. There are some very lovely ocean communities on the coast which we enjoyed immensely. The speed limit was only 25mph through these towns, but I have to hand it to the traffic engineers there: the stop lights were perfectly synchronized, so if you maintained the posted speed, you rarely needed to stop for a light!
Harrah's in the Distance
Finally, we could see Harrah's on the horizon. It was a little confusing to find the "front door" and the parking ramp for our event, but soon we were settled. We headed out to find the restaurants and shops. Well, the pandemic had really affected the venue: very few shops and restaurants were open. Our room was cleaned only every other day, which they forgot to mention at check-in. After checking it all out, we decided to make our go-to spot for food and drinks AC Burger.
On Monday, June 14, we got registered for the event. The folks at the registration table were most accommodating, helping Diane acquire a few extra dash plaques for friends who were unable to attend the GT. Then we moseyed over to the vendor area and spent time with the vendors, including Cecelia Bruce and her daughter Lisa of Scarborough Faire. Steven purchased a new speaker grill for PRNCZ. He also purchased a chrome speaker surround, which is really a Mk II feature, for later installation.
Cecelia and Lisa Bruce
Shopping and chatting is hard work. It was time to refuel. We soon found AC Burger again for a late lunch. We had a great bartender, Igor, a Macedonian, who took really good care of us. We also struck up a conversation with a man sitting near us at the bar, from NYC. We were really surprised, when after bullsh**ting with him for a half-hour, he picked up our entire tab. Our opinion about the folks from NYC ticked up a notch.
Finally, it was time for the Welcome Reception at Harrah's pool to "meet and greet." There were some there who were really ghosts from our past like Michael Crews (GT-1) and Jose Tapia.
Tuesday we attended a couple of technical sessions: Tom Metcalf's presentation on his N Type Airline Coupe restoration and Rob Medynski on distributor rebuild and repair.
Medcalf Presentation on MG N-type Airline Coupe
That evening we took a chartered jitney to Caesar's on the Boardwalk for the NAMGAR dinner. Caesar's is on "the Boardwalk," so we took the opportunity to stroll a short section. Diane was really bummed when she discovered that one could not buy a postcard, anywhere, including on the Atlantic City Boardwalk (at least in the section we walked). Well, not quite true: X-rated ones were available for purchase. If you happened to receive one from us, consider yourself special!
Diane had managed to find some postcards earlier while we were in Wildwood Crest and Cape May, but not in Atlantic City. Then try to find a place to mail them in the hotel — nada, no place. While out and about, later, in the VWA, GPS routed us to a U.S. Post Office in an adjacent town.
The beach, on the other hand, was beautiful. At the NAMGAR Happy Hour we caught up with Ken and Carolynne Palmer whom we had first met at GT-5 and subsequent GTs. Lots of laughs. Then on to a surprisingly good NAMGAR Register buffet dinner.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
On Wednesday, after the NAMGAR Board and Staff breakfast, it was off to the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. Thankfully, we had a charted bus for transportation as the traffic and road work were horrendous. This museum, founded by Dr. Frederick Simeone, is a collection of seventy five historically important racing cars, including Ferraris, Cobras, Jaguars, Aston Martins and an MG K3. He obtained cars in their original racing condition and kept them that way. We viewed and read about the cars, some arranged in interesting vignettes; enjoyed the Art Gallery; had lunch; and then adjourned to the back lot for a demo of the K3 and two Aston Martins by the Museum Curator, Kevin Kelly. A Youtube Video was produced the day before; you may still be able to find it. Search for Simone Museum MG International 2021.
One Diorama at the Simeone Automotive Museum
On Thursday the car show was held at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Egg Harbor, north of Atlantic City. As mentioned earlier, it was a smallish meet, especially for the MMM Register and our own NAMGAR: only two coupes, both dove grey; one Twin Cam; small 1500 and 1600 classes; two Premier entries. It was exciting to see Dan Asbury (GT-15) with Bob and Mary Tennity's Mineral Blue, Mk II MGA; to meet Bruce Feltsman who drove his MGC (first place) from Kalispell, MT; to meet Lou and Tina Louchios who brought their MG PA Airline Coupe from Rolling Meadows, IL, just down the road from us; to see Bruce Woodson's newly refreshed first place Twin Cam that had belonged to Reid and Lou Willis and won first place at GT-1.
NAMGAR Coupe Class
NAMGAR 1600 Class
NAMGAR Magnette Class
Lots Of MGBs
MG PA Airline Coupe
We've been everywhere, man…
Lucy, The Margate Elephant
We left the car show early to visit "the oldest surviving roadside attraction in America" in Margate, NJ: Lucy, the Margate Elephant. Lucy is 65 feet tall and was originally used to promote real estate sales and bring tourists to the area in the late 1880s. She has had many uses over the years. She is in the National Register of Historic Places and is now protected. We have added her to our list of quirky attractions we have visited.
At the Pre-Award Banquet that evening each register awarded its 2nd and 3rd prizes and took care of any other register-specific business. Alan Magnuson of the MGCC Rocky Mountain Centre invited everyone to Colorado Springs, CO for GT-47, next year on June 6-10, 2022. We are looking forward to driving PRNCZ to the GT next summer, probably along the route that Steven had planned in 2020.
After the event banquet, we said our good-byes until next year.
Early Friday morning we began our journey home, driving south of Philadelphia to cross over the Delaware River into PA on the Commodore Barry Bridge. We continued on route 30W through Lancaster and York, no longer the sleeping Amish towns we enjoyed in 1977 and GT-2. We thought we had fallen asleep and awakened in Gatlinburg, TN, the site of the all MG event in 2006 (GT-31): four and five lanes of slow, congested roads with lots of trucks and the occasional "road apples" to remind us that we were in Amish country.
Haines Shoe House
Our first stop was the Haines Shoe House in Hellam Township, PA. Modeled after a work boot, the Haines shoe house was built by shoe salesman Mahlon Haines in 1948 as a form of advertisement. His shoe business claimed it made shoes "from hoof to hoof" because the company began the process with raising the cattle. The house is 25 feet tall and contains five stories. It is open for public tours. Next to the main house is a shoe-shaped doghouse. The living room is located in the toe, the kitchen is located in the heel, two bedrooms are located in the ankle, and an ice cream shop is located in the instep. There is also a stained glass panel that shows Mahlon holding a pair of shoes with a message below it that reads, "Haines the Shoe Wizard." Over the years it has been restored and even used as a "honeymoon" getaway at one point. It has been featured on numerous documentaries of "unusual places." It was our Quirky #2 for this trip.
Coffee Pot Roadside Attraction
We continued west on route 30 to the tune of loud 17-year awakening cicadas until we reached Quirky #3: The Coffee Pot in Bedford, PA. Back when Hwy. 30, the "Lincoln Highway," was the main NYC-SF artery, diversions like a big coffee pot were well visited. Built in 1927 by David Koontz, the 18-ft. high Coffee Pot was originally a lunch place adjoining a gas station. In 1937, it became a bar, with a hotel built in behind it. It is just a remembrance of another era. In an effort to save the Coffee Pot, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor moved it to its current location next to the fairgrounds and restored it in 2014. There were no tours here, but we still enjoyed seeing another example of old Americana along the roadside.
Saturday morning's Quirky #4 was an "Optimus Prime" transformer made from car and scrap metals parts, in the parking lot in front of the Stone and Company in Connellsburg, PA. This is not part of the mid-20th century roadside attractions spread across the U.S., but something more recent, based on the Transformers film series. Someone spent some time on this statue. Could it have been constructed for the company owner's child? Or, perhaps, the company owner is a Transformers fan. We didn't inquire. We just took some snaps between the raindrops. This may be destined to become a 21st century roadside attraction.
We eventually reached the PA Turnpike and headed towards Marblehead, OH, on Lake Erie. This was a genealogy stop for Steven. He had discovered that a relative from Ukraine had worked at the marble quarry in Marblehead, around 1906, so we decided to stop and have a look.
We were surprised that the Museum and Archives are in Lakeside Chautauqua, a gated Methodist community near Marblehead. To visit the Museum and Archives we had to purchase a three hour pass and leave our car at the gate. We took the shuttle to the center of town to begin our hurried research. The curators were very nice, but we didn't find any mention of Steven's ancestors. After a quick lunch and stroll through a car show, that included a nice Austin Healey, we left the community and drove to a cemetery which backs up to the quarry. Other than seeing a sign for the Mazurik Boat Access, there were no surprises, so we headed towards Fort Wayne for our last night on the road.
Saturday: always nice to arrive home, especially during the day, and without pouring rain. We unpacked, while thinking to ourselves: "next year's route is already planned." A few PRNCZ projects, and she'll be ready, too, to don her cowboy boots and ten gallon hat and head for Colorado with us.
In closing, Steven couldn't resist adding a bit of art to this story: from Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, a bronze sculpture of driver Umberto Maglioli in a 375 plus Panamericana, Chassis #0392, by J. Paul Nesse.