Hershey or Bust Road Trip: Learning something new every day

It’s the first official day of the AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet, and whether you use all those words to describe this crazy gathering of automobile enthusiasts or simply call it “Hershey” – like we do – I dare say there is nothing quite like it. In fact, this thing is so huge that I doubt anyone could actually walk past every single vendor during the four days of the swap meet, let alone stop and browse at them all.

I spent nine hours going up and down row after row on the Chocolate Field at Hershey Park, and I barely covered one section of this behemoth of a car party. And that was without stopping to eat, only slowing long enough to grab a slice of pizza (which I ate on the move). OK, I guess I did stop quite a bit to take photos and ask questions, but that’s kind of a prerequisite at Hershey. For most people, the socializing is almost as important as the buying and selling. Almost.

After starting the day by wiping down the ’69 Comeback Camaro, which was displayed in front of our main booth, only a couple of minutes passed before a Bianchi motorbike grabbed my attention and gave me a reason to talk with its owner, Keith McKinsey of East Concord, N.Y.  Keith was selling the Italian bike and wasn’t sure when it was manufactured, so I put my iPad to good use and narrowed it to “pre-1951.” Hopefully someone will be able to tell Keith the exact year, but one thing is for certain, I now know more about Bianchi motorcycles than I did yesterday.

That meeting set the tone for the day because it wasn’t long before a pair of Allstate motorcycles caught my eye. The Sears Catalog version of Kuch bikes, the two 50cc motorcycles looked like “old” and “newer” examples of the same bike. They weren’t – one was a ‘64 and the other was from “the late ‘50s or early ‘60s,” according to their owner, Ed Thurston of Plaistow, N.H.  It seems Ed and a friend used to ride the older model to high school in Haverhill, Mass. “No eye protection, no helmet, no brains,” Ed said with a laugh. “We rode it through streams, woods … We were kids; we beat the hell out of it.” Ed acquired the ’64 years later, but now he’s looking to sell them both.

“I just sold my property, and I don’t have room for everything anymore,” he said. “So I’m here to get rid of some stuff.”

Some of that “stuff” included three cars – a ’59 Morris Minor, a ’50 DeSoto and a hot rod that Hershey organizers wouldn’t allow him to display. Ed speculated that it was “because the AACA is into preservation, not modification.”

The Morris Minor was an interesting car, considering the convertible didn’t start out as one. Ed said the Morris Minor would sometimes cut the roof off coupes that didn’t sell and then add a canvas top – voilà, a convertible. He pointed to the “cut” area that proved it. I learned something again, and knowing that he had passed on new information made Ed smile.

“I’ve been doing this for a while, and you learn something new every day,” he said. “When someone comes up and tries to tell you something you’ve never heard before, don’t argue with them. Listen; you just might learn something.”

I’m looking forward to continuing my education at this event. Rain is in the forecast, but the car guys will be out in full force, and that’s all that matters. I can’t wait.

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