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North-South Meet
Visalia, California
October 2-4, 2009
by Charles Thompson, CLC Director NorCal CLC



The 46th 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 room. 

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 and chariots.

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. 




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Date Last Updated: October 21, 2017
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