You don’t have to be an automobilista to have a good time at the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Fall Meet Flea Market at Hershey, Pennsylvania. All you need is an interest in discovering esoteric objects, like a chromed garden tiller or a mag wheeled snowblower…a Kandy-Kolored Emerald-Flake Snowblind Baby, to paraphrase the title of Tom Wolfe’s 1965 essay about the world of Kustom Kars.
A pilgrimage to the huge Hershey meet every October is a yearly rite for car lovers, but there are many other kinds of wheeled vehicles and esoterica to be viewed as well. Joined by my carnaut friend Phil, I spent a day “noodling” around (an apt term in the home of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking), and without a predisposed itinerary, which is the best way to enjoy the oddities that pop up now and again along the rows and avenues. Phil was pleased to come upon this Farmall Cub similar to a neighbor’s that was the first vehicle he learned to drive as a child. He related that after a few summers of plowing for the old farmer just for the fun of it, his Dad convinced him to demand payment. He did, and he got it.
My own Dad first brought me to Hershey over 40 years ago, and when not trying to ferret out a some part for a jalopy back home, I spent a good bit of time over the years photographing interesting cars. When I remember those pics now, they seem unremarkable, and my subject choices have become more… esoteric.
However, this Dodge Wayfarer was worth a picture this year, because I am convinced that it might be a Flying Dutchman on wheels: I know it can’t be so, but I truly believe I have come across this same car in the flea market every time I have visited the Hershey event since 1970. Freaky.
But, as long as we have touched upon the world of the weird, let’s trip downward in class as well as size, to a car from the circus…of politics. I didn’t know anything about Joseph Clark and Richardson Dilworth before I took a photo of this little Crosley sedan. Clark ran for his second term in the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania in 1962, when this car was co-opted as a rolling campaign poster. He won, but his friend and fellow reform candidate for Governor, Richardson Dilworth didn’t. Both appear in an endorsement on file at the John F. Kennedy Library, dated August 16, 1962 (11 days after the death of Kennedy’s alleged paramour, Marilyn Monroe, and 13 weeks before his own assassination). Though Dilworth’s political career came to an end after his loss in this election, he led, on balance a very successful and fulfilling life. Decorated in both World Wars, he was a two-term Mayor of Philadelphia, and his legacy is preserved in the Richardson Dilworth Award for public service to the city.
Stepping down again in scale, we stumble across a vehicle I absolutely lusted after as a child. I remember seeing one of these battery powered, fiberglass convertibles at a Pontiac dealer in downtown Bethlehem, PA. in 1956. Formed of the new wonder material of small production runs, they were totally unattainable unless you were the lucky kid who won one in a contest… or had a rich Dad. I can’t imagine they had much of a range, but what a step up from a pedal car! Nowadays, when I see a yard with two or three battery powered jeeps or Barbie cars forgotten and fading in the sun, there’s a temptation revert to a 5 year old’s covetousness (“You kids, nowadays don’t appreciate what your have!”… blah, blah, blah).
Further down we go again in size, to discover this fascinating Hohm Instructional Motorcar Chassis. Perhaps our moderator, Paul’s Dad was schooled in the workings of das auto through one of these ingenious scale models. According the the website of Australia’s Museum Victoria, these table size rollers were made in Hamburg. Emil Hohm was an Opel dealer (hence the likeness to the teutonic GM marque) who began building instructional models in the 1930s, and over 1,000 of these electric powered demonstrators were built through the 1950s. It’s beautifully made, complete with a translucent engine block showing the working innards.