Creative Characters and Century Old Automobiles – The 2019 Hudson International Meet

Greetings Fellow Travelers,

A few weekends ago, I found my way to Bettendorf, Iowa with a close friend of mine and fellow traveler of the Open Road, Alan, to take in the event that is known as the Hudson International Meet. While I was only able to make two days of this event, which was held this year at the same time as the yearly function of the regional club of Hudson enthusiasts, the Big Country, I was able to take in many of the sights, the sounds, and the happenings of the Internationals. As I have been a frequent visitor of this event over the years, I was pleased to see many old friends and spend some time catching up. As with every journey, I was also lucky enough to encounter some new characters along the way and learn some of their particular stories.

This year was much like many of the ones previous, with quite the variety of events taking place over the course of the two days I was lucky enough to have in Bettendorf, which is located along the Mississippi River in Eastern Iowa. After having quite a few days of rain, it was a welcome sight to see the sun shining down, hot and bright, on the event. Every year at the Hudson Internationals, the H-E-T (Hudson Essex Terraplane) Club features a certain car model. This year, the spotlight was shined on the Essex, which I was happy to see a few of about the grounds.

As that first day went on, I found myself under the shade of an old oak tree to escape the heat. Taking a seat, I found myself in front of a 1919 Essex Roadster. As the sun was not going anywhere this day, I put to paper this automobile, hardly believing that it was 100 years old. It is an odd feeling to describe any auto on the road now at that age, as it does not seem all that long ago that you could not find one such antique that could be called a century old.

My rendition of the 1919 Essex Roadster

After leaving my shady spot, I found my way over to the swap meet before the evening’s activities were set to begin. As luck would have it, I found a couple more antique license plates to add to my collection, both originating from the East Coast – Massachusetts and New York. After loading up these finds, it was time to find my way to the evening events located nearby. As I journeyed on, many folks were hitting the parking lot to enjoy the cooler temperatures and enjoy the many fine models of antique automobiles on display. I must say, as I took in these sights, that the Hudsons of all varieties do have a style of beauty that is exciting and a joy to draw.

There were two activities that took place inside the Isles Casino Conference Center, where the Internationals were being held. The first event on that Friday evening was always one of a kind, as it was the Costume Contest/Fashion Show. It is quite the sight to see what folks come up with each year. This year those who participated dressed up as Hudson mechanics from the bygone era. There were quite a few characters who created their own interpretations of the theme and paraded across the stage for all to see.

There was one such character who stood out among the rest. A fellow by the name of Chuck, who hailed from Iowa, dressed himself as a mechanic, with his wife coming along, dressed as his service manager or his boss. As they entered, the room came alive with laughter, as his “boss” wife was leading Chuck around the room by his ear. Chuck had no choice but to go where his boss led him, as he played up the scene by wincing and acting like a man, or a mechanic, being led straight to the doghouse. One of the fellows near me added to the commentary of the scene by stating she must have caught him trying to change “a muffler bearing,” which for those who are not as versed in the automobile world, is not a part that exists. Such a scene deserved to be remembered, so I did a quick illustration of Chuck and his Boss.

No more “muffler bearings” for Chuck to change in the doghouse

The second activity in the Conference Center was the auction for Hudson memorabilia and beyond. I must say that if my pockets stretched a bit further, I would have had plenty of items coming back to Boom Town with me. However, since I did not want to end up like Chuck, I figured it was in my best interest to sit back, watch, and listen as these antiques found a new home.

Speaking of Chuck, he must have had some sense to him after all. Good ol’ Chuck, with his poor stretched ear, must have figured a way out of the doghouse as he came to bid that day. As I watched block after block come up and be sold to a deserving character, I heard Chuck come forward with the winning bid on quite the beautiful automobile to behold. His ticket out of the doghouse was an original 1957 Hudson 4-Door, or what some of us in the know call the “Hash.” Back in 1956, Hudson went in with Nash and this beauty came about, nickname and all. I could not let this moment, of Chuck and his Hash, go without a drawing to memorialize one interesting character making his triumphant return.

Saturday brought the 2019 Hudson International Meet to a close. I visited once more with many an old friend, bidding a fond journey down the road until we might cross paths again. New characters I had met also came along to give their best as I watched the parking lot grow empty as the fine automobiles found their way to trailer and to the Open Road. Before all had departed, I had the good fortune to get in a drawing of a real rare beauty, a Hudson Jet Convertible. It is said that this rarity was the only one to have ever been created. A fellow from Indiana brought this unique antique to the meet and I am grateful that he was able to bring it along for all of us to have the opportunity to see such a rare delight.

Truly One of a Kind

As I look back on my weekend filled with all things Hudson Essex Terraplane, I find myself quite pleased to have had the opportunity to visit with old characters from journeys before and to have met so many new folks at such an event. I must say that it still holds true that I have yet to meet a Hudson owner who I have not liked. The automobiles are truly a sight to behold, but the characters who own and love these antiques are equally a grand part of each journey I make along the Open Road. I hope you remember, my fellow travelers, to always make each journey its own and to live life, and meet plenty of interesting characters, by taking your own trip out on the Open Road.

From the Open Road, 

Lincoln Highway Johnny

Advertisements

Reclaiming the Past from the Wild – The Black and Orange Garage Camp Cabins

Greetings Fellow Travelers,

Over the years, I have seen many a place along the Lincoln Highway that has been left to the wilds that surround it. From the concrete bridges that spanned the shallow creeks of the countryside to the many motels and cabins where weary travelers found a place to rest for the night, there is no structure built by man that is secured against the passage of time once it has been left to its own fate.

As I made my way across the great state of Wyoming many a year ago, I happened upon some old cabins next to Fort Bridger. As I observed the faded orange wooden siding and the sloping rooftops, I felt that twinge of sadness I so often find when I see these once loved places falling into disrepair. As I left to go on to the historic Fort Bridger itself, I made sure to mark the location so I could visit these former rest spots once again. Every time I found myself in that area of the Great Road, I visited these cabins and wished that there would be some character to come along and restore the buildings and grounds before nature had completely reclaimed the territory.

It was much to my delight to learn that back in 2009, just a character came along. These cabins, named the Black and Orange Garage Camp Cabins, were being restored to their former glory by the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, with a member of Lincoln Highway Association, Todd Thibodeau, being the force of change for these historic furnishings. The restoration itself was done beautifully, as the crew behind the work was able to use at least ninety percent of the original materials and structures.

The structures themselves look much like they originally did when a traveler along the Lincoln Highway would come to stay the night, with each cabin featuring its own garage for those early automobiles. This was quite the feature for the time when these cabins were in their heydays from the early 1920s until 1936, when the Great Depression found its way down the road to this area of the country. While these restored cabins are not open for a current traveler to rest his tired bones from the road, they are open for any character who wishes to take a trip back in time to see how the accommodations of the past compare to those of today.

On a side note, I did see a reproduced concrete Lincoln Highway marker along the road there by the cabins some years ago. As it often happens, the featured medallion with the face of the president the road is named after was missing. I have not yet had my own opportunity to venture back to see the restored cabins in their current state, but I do hope that the missing medallion has also been restored to its home.

A glimpse back in time to how the Black and Orange Garage Camp Cabins looked in their prime.
Artwork created for the upcoming Lincoln Highway Association 2019 Conference
in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

If you find yourself journeying along the Lincoln Highway through western Wyoming, take a moment and visit the Black and Orange Garage Camp Cabins and the grounds of Fort Bridger itself. As you walk through those restored beauties, think back to the not too distant past when the wilds had reclaimed this area for its own. I can only hope that other historic sites will be as fortunate as this and will find some character to come along and bring the past back to life.

From the Open Road, 

Lincoln Highway Johnny