North-South Meet was held October 2-4 in Visalia at the
beautiful Lamp Liter Inn in Visalia. Along with the traditional
hospitatlity room and Saturday night banquet, club members were treated
to a four-part tour arranged by Mr. Richard Manley, a longtime National
CLC member and Visalia resident.
Part I was a visit to
Vic Groah’s garage where we met Vic and his son who restore and maintain
a bevy of antique autos, and they are building a replica of a vintage
wooden aircraft – the “Pete-n-Pull.” After looking at the delicate
little plane, I came home and Googled Pete-n-Pull… but to no avail. I
did however find a product under Bernard H. Pietenpol from Cherry Grove,
Minnesota for the “PIETENPOL AIR CAMPER. The Original Model A Powered
Light Plane – Designed to get the best possible performance from a Model
A motor, to be easy to fly, and to get the most flying hours for the
money invested.” Could this be what’s being built in a garage way out in
a field in Visalia? If so, I’d better start a prayer chain in case they
ever try to take off in a cloud of dust!
Part 2 of the tour was
the Tulare Agricultural Center Heritage Museum – a tractor museum.
Fortunately for me, I learned a long time ago that some tours might
sound mundane, but I have found such tours to be surprisingly fun and
informative. This was exactly one of those kinds of tours. There were
about 50 old tractors and displays about farming and daily operations.
Visalia lies at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and is the single
most productive farming area in the United States! If only these old
tractors could tell stories of hardworking, inventive farmers who
replaced dozens of mules with a single tractor. Some of these were so
big, you found yourself trying to figure out how they got up into the
driver’s seat (actually sometimes nothing more than a wooden bench). So
massive, so heavy… they left you scratching your head and in doubt that
they could ever actually move in a dirt field. Things have gotten better
though… they had a mock up of a modern tractor cab, one that was fully
glass enclosed, air conditioned, with a seat that looked like it came
from a Porsche.
Part 3 was lunch at the
Black Bear Restaurant. Good food, nice people.
Part 4 of the tour also
held a huge surprise for all of us. We drove out to the home and walnut
groves of George and Annabelle Pope. We walked around in George’s garage
containing about a dozen cars ranging from Model A Fords to a 1953 Rolls
Royce. And we checked out the collection of memorabilia arrayed around a
huge theater-size organ housed right in George and Annabelle’s family
But an even bigger
surprise awaited us as George led us out to a large warehouse and pushed
back huge sliding doors to reveal… a full size, working, antique, fully
restored… carousel! The antique carousel was manufactured in 1928 by the
Allen Herschell Carousel Co. of North Tonawanda, NY. It features 28
leaping horses, 2 animals and 2 chariots. George described how he found
the derelict carousel and hauled it in a truck back to his house.
Annabelle described it as a truckload of pipe and lumber that bore no
resemblance to a carousel. George told us the story of the years of
restoration and described how a merry-go-round is different from a
carousel. According to George the major difference is that a
merry-go-round has all horses, whereas a carousel has horses, animals
Being a dutiful cub
reporter, I came home and Googled a comparison of these two devices and
found a great deal of information that ended up deciding that they were
synonyms, but I like George’s definition best.
Another factoid that you
might find interesting to enter into your memory bank is that in the
U.S., these devices go in a counterclockwise direction, while in many
European countries they go in a clockwise direction. Never mind all this
data and fact finding… the biggest thrill was when George allowed us to
climb aboard and pick out a favorite while he busied himself with the
controls. Soon, the lights came on, the music started up so loud our
eyes bulged, and the carousel began to take us for a bouncing ride. And
all of this in the middle of huge farming and walnut expanses! We never
would have guessed.
Our special thanks go
out to Rob & Linda Leonard, Craig Chally, and Rich Manley and his
friends Vic Groah and George Pope for arranging a very special,
down-home North-South Meet where we could all get together with friends
and just have a good time.