Car Show Classics: A Curbside Classic Road Trip To Hannibal, MO

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Every now and then I feel the need to break up the old routine. For those of you who’ve been reading my posts over the past few years, you may know that the reason I started to write for CC was due to the loss of my boring old job at the bank and resultant cabin fever with nothing to do. Top tip: Never get downsized during a recession. So, it was back to the old drawing board! I was qualified, but despite applying for many jobs hither and yon, I still had very few interviews, and most companies did not have the decency to let me know when a job was filled.


I now have a rather low opinion for HR folks–formerly “personnel,” for those of you old enough to remember. But never mind! I got the chance to write for a great online publication, and have since been gainfully employed by a great company for nearly a year and a half (hint: part of their greatness is no HR department–the owners make the hiring decisions!). As a result of finding a good place, I was able to get a CC of my own (the Lincoln, I’m sure I do not need to further elaborate) and have a bit of freedom in just taking off for a fun day trip. Like to Hannibal, Missouri, for instance.

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One of my favorite things about writing for CC is the friendships I’ve made, both with readers and the CC editorial staff. I always think of a big glass skyscraper with “CC, Inc.” in neon at the top, but the truth is your fearless writers here are just a bunch of gearheads from many walks of life who love to write about cars. Anyway, late this past winter I received an email from fellow editor Jason Shafer. As you may know, JS lives in MO, and formerly lived in the cool little river town of Hannibal for several years prior to moving to the big city. As a result, he knew there was a great show in the heart of downtown Hannibal every Mothers’ Day weekend.

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I am always up for a car show (weather permitting, of course) and so when he proposed that we meet for the show (Hannibal was about halfway between our current cities of residence) I thought it was a terrific idea. For one thing, it is nice to see different cars. I go to many, many shows, and I regularly see the same cars over and over. So a change of pace is nice. Secondly, I had previously met Jason (along with JP Cavanaugh, Ed Stembridge and our fearless leader, PN) at the 2013 CC Editors’ Cavalcade in Iowa City.

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So, now that I have rambled on for way too long, let’s look at some cars! Upon first arriving downtown, this amber-colored Monte Carlo immediately caught my eye. Nice color, no vinyl top and factory-correct Rally wheels and whitewalls made for a handsome car.

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Despite healthy sales during its run from 1970-72, Chevelles (mostly fake SSs) outnumber Chevy’s mini-Eldorado by about 754 to 1 at shows. A shame. They are handsome cars.

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The 1964-66 “Flair Birds” are a favorite of mine. Not just because of their style, most excellent interior and Rube Goldberg power top, but also because my grandmother bought one new.

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Her car was navy blue with white interior, blue dash and carpet, and a white top. It replaced a metallic lavender 1959 Pontiac Catalina convertible and she liked it so much that she kept it all the way to 1977. This, when she typically kept cars the then-usual two to three years. Suffice it to say that she loved that T-Bird dearly!

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And why not? This was one of the great interiors of the ’60s, a Interstate-going private aircraft. I especially love the “eyeball” auxiliary gauges.

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Of the 1964-66 run, the ’65 is my preferred version, as all of the trim details were just right: wheel covers, grille, chrome fender vent, and the first appearance of the sequential turn signals.

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Whoever owns this example is a lucky man (or woman) indeed!

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Well so far we’ve seen a GM and a FoMoCo product, time to round things out with a Mopar. A 1970 Challenger Special Edition, to be precise.

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This one was of course very attractive to your author, with its “Brougham” trim level, green paint and green interior. The vinyl roof with a limousine-style backlight, spiffier interior and an overhead console were all identifiers of the Special Edition package–along with the “SE” sail panel emblems.

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Mmm, green! Me like green! Uh, where was I? Oh yes, here we can see the cloth and vinyl seating that came standard, and while this car does not have the Rallye gauges or power windows, it does have factory air and automatic transmission.

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This car looked really honest. I have been known to utter my disdain for the so-called “tribute” cars, where Boomers who never got over high school take a clean original Chevelle, Coronet or what have you, paint it Resale Red and go to town with repo SS, Hemi or GTO emblems. Let’s call them what they are: Fakes. Fakey fakey fake fake fake…

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I seem to have digressed again; sorry about that! But anyway, this car did not fall prey to fake Hemi-itis, and for that, I salute this car’s owner.

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In 1970, the “Airtemp” logo on the quarter panel of a Challenger, New Yorker, or Belvedere was a mark of distinction. A/C was still expensive in the ’70s, and still not exceptionally common.

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Can you tell I like Thunderbirds? Yes indeed, there was another excellent example at the show, this time a silver-blue 1964 Landau.

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Landaus received an extra-Broughamy interior with simu-wood door caps and other refinements, as befitting its status at the top of the T-Bird heap.

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And there are the coved seats! Aren’t they great?

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This car appeared to have its original Wixom-installed Thunderbird-logoed windshield washer bag. Now that’s cool!

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The lines of this car are just great–not a bad line anywhere in my opinion. And despite my preference for the 1965 model, really, any 1964, 1965 or 1966 Thunderbird will receive a big thumbs up from me!

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Jason and I had at this point reached the edge of the show, so it was time to turn around and seek out some more cars. Here we can take a look back down the show field, with the Mighty Mississippi in the extreme background.

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In addition to T-Birds, and Broughams, I also like white interiors and metallic aqua-painted cars. So you just knew I was going to share this one, right?

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A bench-seat equipped 1968 Super Bee with bumblebee stripe-delete, no less. It does have factory air conditioning though. And there’s that great late ’60s B-body instrument panel, shared with the unforgettable 1968-70 Charger!

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It even had an 8-track cassette adapter! Remember those? Not me, I wasn’t even born yet–but I bet many of you CCers had them at one time.

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As previously mentioned this is a stripe delete car. Cars so squipped only received the cartoon Super Bee logo. Looks good!

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Late ’60s B-body interiors speak to me. The full gauges, sport steering wheel and “Tick-Tock Tach” all speak to me. And a white interior too! Nice!

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This was the first year of the Super Bee, which ever-whiny Dodge received after hearing about Plymouth’s upcoming “Super taxi cab,” the Road Runner. Dodge was like the annoying younger sibling back then, getting whatever it wanted: “Plymouth got a fastback coupe? Whaaaa! I want one too! Plymouth got a sporty coupe version of the Valiant? Whaaaaa! I want one too!” Such pissing and moaning ultimately killed Plymouth. Thanks a lot, Dodge!

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But I can’t stay mad at Dodge, for they still made some great cars! Like this one. And who can fault a healthy 383 four-barrel mill?

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Original paperwork was also on display, telling the car’s story–something often lacking at shows. Looks like this car has been in Missouri since new–other than many trips, as you’ll see in the next picture.

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The original owner only kept the car for about eight months. But the second owner, who bought the car in December 1968 with only about 8K on the clock, still owns the car to this day! While the A/C is factory, it was apparently added from a Charger later on. Very neat to see the car with the same owner for nearly 46 years!

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How about a 1963 F-85 Cutlass? This one looked great in silver with red interior.

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The Cutlass nameplate was just getting started in ’63, but it would have a long and prosperous future ahead of it, with many upwardly-mobile 30-something Boomers lining up for an opera-windowed example in the mid-’70s.

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The ample interior brightwork contrasted nicely with the red vinyl upholstery. And the consolette is a nice break from the big honkin’ consoles of today. Really, do you need a console big enough to hold a Coleman Playmate cooler?!

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And none of that wimpy red-seats-only schtick, with everything else black–so popular these days with tightwad auto makers–if, indeed, red interior is offered at all! Sigh, folks in the ’60s were spoiled for choice, weren’t they?

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The details on ’60s American cars are second to none. I love the “spinner” wheel covers, the tasteful chrome molding and wheel arch trim, and especially that F-85 logo with the rocket motif! Detroit art–or is that Lansing?

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It’s just a trunk, but I liked the sign inside. I believe I have the very same affliction, but it’s OK–I don’t care to be cured!

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When it seems everybody has to have a Mustang, Corvette or Camaro as a show car, a 1963 F-85 Cutlass convertible is a breath of fresh air–and a real beauty.

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Gee, we’ve been pretty heavy on the domestic iron, haven’t we? Time for a break–and what a lovely break! Any E-Type Jag-you-war (XKE to you Yanks) is a beauty. Some really don’t care for the 2+2 like this one, but I like them too. True, it’s not quite as sporting or quite as attractive as the close-coupled, uh, coupe, but still quite nice.

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And that dash, while not quite as cool as the Series I unit, is still very compelling. Purists might not care for the automatic either, but for sedate cruising in English splendor, I can see the appeal. It’s not immediately apparent in the picture above, but the interior was navy blue leather–a lovely contrast with the silver paint.

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And under the hood? Bliss. At least for those who knew the ins and outs of these very complicated cars–and knew how to tame them without taking it down to Nigel the Mechanic for every little thing.

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What a lovely car. Even in 2+2 form, the long hood, feminine line of the rear flanks, slim chrome bumpers and always-lovely wire wheels all speak to me.  Not sure of the year on this one, but I am going to guess 1970 or so.

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And now, a car you just knew I was going to be all over: a 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible. Looking especially fetching in white with burgundy interior, too!

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As I have oft-mentioned, my grandfather’s first Lincoln was a dark green 1966 Continental sedan with no vinyl roof and dark green leather. It replaced a circa-1962 Electra 225 if I remember correctly, and cemented his relationship with Ford’s premier marque for the rest of his driving days. As a Midwestern lawyer, though, I am rather sure he never seriously considered a Continental convertible. My Grandma Ruby got the convertible!

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Look–dual radios! This was a rarely-seen Ford option– the Dual Symphony Sound Stereophonic System–for the mister and missus who just can’t decide on a station. Of course, I am kidding. The left-hand controls are for the HVAC system.

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This appeared to be a nice original car–perhaps with a repaint, but the interior was clearly original. Clearly unoriginal was the shag carpeting squares in the footwells. Not my cup of tea, but easily reversible at any rate.

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Some prefer the 1961-65 a bit more than the revised 1966-69, with its more upright and pure lines. But I really like the later 1966-up Connies too. You could tell it was the “new” one, but at the same time it was clearly a Continental.

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Such clean lines. So purposeful, yet so elegant. It makes many of today’s cars look downright convoluted, doesn’t it. Ah, those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end. But they did.

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As the resident early Sixties Ford fan, Mr. Shafer was rather taken with this ’64 Galaxie convertible. I liked it a lot too, but as I suspected Jason was going to eventually write it up, I only took this single shot. The red/red is very nice, though.

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Here was another nice B-body Mopar, this time a 1969 Sport Satellite convertible. The medium blue paint, white top and white interior was very nice.

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No A/C in this one though. But hey, the top goes down, so no worries, right? Buckets and console are also a plus. See, once upon a time, center consoles were NOT designed so a baby elephant could sit on it and not feel crowded.

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This one was in nice shape, though the paint appeared to be modern base coat/clear coat. White interiors on convertibles just make sense to me. Black interiors on convertibles does not. Um, hot car, hot day, black interior and top down? That’s a recipe for flash-frying the backs of your legs!

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Just like the Challenger SE, I loved this car for its non-“tribute” status. Another REAL car, what REAL cars looked like in the late Sixties. How refreshing.

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The only thing that would have made it better from an historical perspective would have been full wheel covers and whitewalls–or perhaps redlines? Really, how many Sport Satellites would have come off the lines with the Magnum 500s? Not too many, I’d guess. But they do look snazzy!

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I was also taken with the “racetrack” stamped into the hood. I had never noticed that before, but it looked really good.

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Going down a block and back a decade or so, we have this 1959 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight two-door hardtop. I was very interested in this one, and despite the non-correct wheels (I would much prefer the original “spinner” wheel covers) it was an amazing car.

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All the details on this car were great! And the paint and chrome were done to a T.

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Inside was perfect, right down to the correct upholstery. And what a great steering wheel!

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Back then, an Oldsmobile was clearly a cut above from a Chevy or Pontiac, with very upmarket trim and chrome details–especially on a top-of-the-line Ninety-Eight like this one.

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1959 was the high water mark for fins, but the Olds really didn’t have them–the fender-top sheetmetal had more of a jet-tube effect. And while some think of the ’59 Olds as the weakest of the 1959 GMs, I like them very much.

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Especially the dual-cowl instrument panel. Check out the trim panel for the clock, with “Ninety” and “Eight” spanning the clock face. Cool.

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Clearly a well-loved car, it absolutely sparkled in the early-afternoon sun!

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The 1968-69 Fairlanes and Torinos are not very frequently seen, so this one was nice to see. But there’s something extra uncommon with this one.

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Yep, despite being a two-door hardtop in upmarket Torino trim, it has the old reliable straight six. A bit of an odd combination–you’d think the tightwad who would select the six would want it in a four-door sedan.

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The inside was just as original as the rest of the car, but just like the Sport Satellite, I doubt very much that this car was sold new with Magnum 500s.

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OK, time for a ubiquitous Tri-Five Chevy. “Oh Tom, why?!” Well, the ’56 is the underdog of the trio, and I liked this one’s dog dish hubcaps and black-and-white paint. If it were a ’57, it would look a lot like one of the Black Widow racers. Maybe that’s what the owner was going for.

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This one looks to be a One-Fifty judging from the abbreviated side trim. A nice looking car, and with aftermarket A/C, not the steam room one of these would have been in 1956 in Missouri!

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Yes, factory air was available, but I imagine it was very rare on a bare-bones One Fifty. Nice radio blank plate too! I wonder if there’s a modern radio in the glovebox. Seems likely…

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Turning from the ’56 Chevy, I saw a late-model Pierce-Arrow, a 1936-38 model. Ooh, great! From a distance it looked original, but as I got closer my heart started to sink…

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Hmm, nice subtle color, all trim intact–but those wheels and tires look suspiciously modern.

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Power window buttons?! JC Whitney gauges? Oh no…

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It is hard to see in these pictures, but beneath those lovely louvres resided a modern V8–a 350 Chevy, I am quite sure. Of all the lazy, stupid….oh! Arrgh! To do this? To a Pierce-Arrow. A PIERCE-ARROW?! Grrrrr!

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True, it was well done, and not painted pink, and no day-glo leather buckets inside. But it still pissed me off. Come on man? If you want to be a lazy bozo with all the modern conveniences, just buy a freaking clown-car 2014 Camaro! Don’t ruin a classic! I was getting pretty wound up by this time, so Jason and I broke for lunch–we had been wandering around for about two and a half hours at this point.

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After refueling, and exiting the restaurant, the first car I laid eyes on was this 1969 Camaro RS. Yes, yes, another “bellybutton classic,” but this one was very sharp with its uncommon colors of navy blue with white vinyl top and white interior.

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And a white hockey stick stripe! Such a refreshing change, I was beginning to think all of these were red with black interior by now.

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While I would have swapped the RWLs for some redlines, this was a very nice car, and of course you gotta love the RS’s hidden headlights.

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So too, the white buckets and console with “stirrup” shifter. Looks like factory air, too.

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As you can tell, cars were beginning to leave, but there was still plenty to see, like this early ’80s Monte Carlo SS. Many of these got hot-rodded and wrapped around trees in the ’90s–much like 1969 Camaros did in the ’70s–so a clean example like this was neat to see.

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The blue interior was just as clean as the exterior. White or dark metallic blue were your only choices on the SS until 1985, when a broader range of colors were offered, including black, silver and burgundy.

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Although a little rusty and sporting one RWL tire, my Oldsmobile radar went off upon seeing this 1979 Custom Cruiser. Although sporting some rust, it was still complete and in fair shape.

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The interior was especially nice, though the five-and-dime steering cover would have been trash-canned in short order if I owned it.

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An easy way to tell a 1977-79 Custom Cruiser is the woodgrain “eyebrows” over the wheel wells. In 1980, the woodgrain was lowered and simply went straight across the flanks.

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This one was an eight passenger model, with a rather comfy-looking “way back” seat.

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It was interesting to see the third seat with the same upholstery as the rest of the car.

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By the late ’80s, it seemed most B-body wagons, got the same pleated vinyl or cloth–though the Custom Cruiser’s third seat always matched the rest of the interior trim through 1990.

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While there was some rust in the front fenders, the lower rear quarters appeared OK.

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I remember riding in my Dad’s 1979 Bonneville sedan, and though I was extremely little, I remember it as a nice place to be. This Olds cabin looked pretty comfy too. And with that, we come to the end of the car show pictures, but stay tuned for a whistle-stop tour of Mark Twain’s hometown!

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First stop was lovers leap, prominently featured in Twain’s novels and, more recently, the scene of a runaway Camry that would have made its’ own leap, if a well-placed tree had not stopped it.

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In 1990, my parents took us on a vacation to Hannibal. I remember the trip fondly. We rented a condo with a full kitchen, went up to the lighthouse, toured the two big mansions (one of them is a bed-and-breakfast now), rode the riverboat (the Mark Twain, duh!) and all in all had an excellent time.

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This was my first time back. I was a little worried it would have changed a lot in 25 years’ time, with Starbucks, Home Depots and other retail dreck all over, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it much the same as it was when I was ten. To this day, it is a nice, picturesque little city.

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Here is the aforementioned lighthouse. I remember climbing what felt like five hundred steps with my little brother to the top, where we poked our heads out and Mom, at the bottom, took our picture.

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After walking downtown for about four hours I was in no mood for steps on this occasion, and this picture was snapped from the comfort of Jason’s F-150.

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And finally, here we have the home of the “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” After the nickel tour, Jason took us past some promising old-car spots, with several interesting finds and one surprise sighting at a convenience store. But those cars will have to wait for another time. All in all, it was a nice mini-vacation and Jason was a great host. I just might have to do it again next year!

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