CC Road Trip: Redemption, Mark Twain, and Loafing At A Car Show


It was a year ago this week I made my 1,100 mile road trip to Mississippi and (almost) back in my then 52 year-old Ford Galaxie.  As that trip did not quite turn out as planned, I was eager to again take the old girl on another journey so she could redeem herself.  Of course, it took a year for such an opportunity.

So grab a snack – I’ve got a lot to say after the jump.


That hideous blue is on my hit list. As are those branches and so on…

Not to bore you with details, but I have to provide a bit of context.  Last summer, soon after getting the Galaxie back home, we finally purchased another house.  It needed a lot of initial work – I painted, fixed drainage, tore out walls, removed dead trees, trimmed living trees, replaced water heaters and vanities, cleaned everything, and grew a not-so-complimentary beard.  From the end of last June until March of this year, the Galaxie had less than 150 miles added to the odometer, and that estimate is rather generous.

Suffice it to say, the old girl had been sitting a lot.  The only driving it had done was to go see a 1969 Mercury Monterey in January and again in March or April when CC Contributor Eric703 and I went on a thorough (and nearly futile) tour around Jefferson City looking for cars.

JC to Hannibal

So what better way to blow the cobs out than to drive it over 100 miles one way?  It was for a good cause – redeeming itself on another (way less ambitious) road trip and to meet up with a friend for a car show.


My former house. They need to cut the grass and that creamy white does NOT go with the red brick.

I also looked at this as double redemption; the old girl had spent five years in Hannibal languishing in the garage of my old house.  I had hauled her to Hannibal in 2008 and I hauled her from Hannibal when we sold this house in 2013.  It was time she hauled herself for a change!


And haul me she did!  This was her happy speed for the way up…


This was her happy speed for the way back.  In fact, she was wanting to push toward 80 for the final leg of the trip.  The cobs were thoroughly blown out.

So what did I see in between?  I’m glad you asked.


The Loafers Car Club in Hannibal has their annual show the first weekend of May.  Like a lot of regional shows there are the repeat customers, cars that are enjoyable to see but repetition dulls the excitement.  My focus here is on the others as, frankly, this is about the third annual article on this show (here and here for previous years) and nobody cares to see the same cars again.  Last year was nearly a bust for visiting cars, but this year was vastly different, such as this 1963 Mercury Monterey.  This Breezeway is the first two-door example I’ve seen.

As an aside, this Mercury was from Ottumwa, Iowa.  For those who watched the television show M*A*S*H, Radar O’Reilly was from Ottumwa and Colonel Potter was from Hannibal.  I always suspected Colonel Potter was named for Muff Potter from Tom Sawyer.  Plus, the man who had previously owned my house in Hannibal was moving to Ottumwa.  Weird how these things work.


Yes, I know, this is a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro convertible and seeing a Camaro at a car show is about as rare as seeing white on rice.  However, I don’t waste my time stopping for just any old Camaro.  Look closely and you’ll see why.


When was the last time you saw one of these in a Camaro of any variety?  This was a first for me.  Information provided by the owner stated that out of 235,000 Camaros produced for 1968, a whopping 3,514 were six-cylinder convertibles.  I’m surprised it was that many.

As I took this picture, some guy stopped to look at this straight-six and nearly gagged.  His reaction was hilarious.


Here’s another one I’ve never seen – at least at a car show.  Does this picture give you a hint?  The sign for Pirate Island at the top of the picture is rather telling even if purely coincidental.


Let’s try another clue.


Seeing a Checker is, for me, a treat.  This is a 1981 model so it’s very near the tail of Checker production.  It’s powered by an Oldsmobile 403 cubic inch V8, so it has undergone a heart transplant at some point.


It makes me want to jump in and go for a ride.


Speaking of going for a ride, this car intrigues me mightily and a ride under the right conditions could be a real thrill.  No, this isn’t some novelty piece hacked together to bring more attention to an otherwise ordinary 1937 Chevrolet.  I’m going to let it speak for itself.


Intrigued yet?  Click on the picture if the print is too small.


Another onlooker told me he would love to have this system on his eighteen-wheeler as he wouldn’t have to worry about being late for deliveries.  I agreed, but asked if he thought it might adversely affect his fuel bill.  We both got a chuckle from this truly inspired creation.

This Chevrolet upstaged everything around it.


Another product from a fertile and mechanically inclined imagination is this Mustang pickup.  Really, what other good can you get from a late 1980s or early 1990s four-cylinder Mustang?


At least these were out in the open.  Rumor has it GM is starting to use quilts such as this to disguise their various test mules.  This one was supposedly made for a mid-00’s LeSabre, but it’s rather hard to verify since the car has been covered.


Fortunately this 1975 Chevrolet Caprice convertible was far enough away to escape the jet-fueled influence of that ’37 Chevrolet a few spaces down.

I talked at length with the owner, who is a member of the FBI (Fat Boy from Illinois, according to his hat).  He’s owned this car for twenty-two years, having purchased it from the original owners subsequent to their being divorced.  He has been very wise about keeping moisture away from the car, having gone to the trouble of dropping the fuel tank to treat the body and tank interface with Rustoleum and improving the drains in the bottom of the doors.


Being able to see the hood of a car from the drivers seat is such a novel concept these days.  There is a two-barrel 350 (5.7 liter) V8 sitting under that long hood.


Having unintentionally presented a small smorgasbord of GM products thus far, let’s have a change of pace.  Somebody will undoubtedly know what car this graces.  If you think this looks very 1985, you would be correct.


How’s this Nissan for a palette cleanser?


It’s amazing how quickly the 1980s techno appearance drifted away, but here it is in its full glory.  Even the iPod looks natural here.


This Nissan had two sisters next to her, but this was the pretty one.

Also of note…these four Nissan’s were the entirety of the Asian cars present, outnumbering the European contingent by two.  It’s odd how such things work, but it’s undoubtedly those regional differences I’ve talked about.


But our black Nissan isn’t the last 1980s techno-laden car to be found here.


If you don’t know which television show inspired this 1983 Pontiac Firebird, you may want to stay up to-knight and be a rider on the waves of youtube.

It’s time for another palette cleanser to scour away the big hair and other 1980s kitsch.  There is no guarantee you’ll have all residual aftertaste removed nor will I promise automotive utopia – cars are like designer beer; they don’t all taste good to everyone.


This most awesome Dodge may fall into that category.

Thank God this isn’t (yet another) tribute to that Chicago based movie from 1980.  This is simply a very nice, low mileage 1977 Royal Monaco, one of my favorite C-bodies from this era.  It just needs wheel covers.


I was able to overhear a conversation the owner was having with another car owner.  It seems he found this 28,000 mile, 440 powered Royal Monaco several hours north of Hannibal in a very rural location.


The car is an absolute time capsule and a very well equipped example at that.

If this Dodge were mine, I would take the fuzzy dice, walk the two hundred feet to the Mississippi River, throw them in the water, and say good riddance.


The physical appearance of this C-body Dodge has been compared to a 1973 Buick LeSabre, which is a very valid and sound observation.  However, from an appearance perspective, Dodge used the flab-filled bologna of the LeSabre as the inspiration to create a perfectly spiced and well marbled Kansas City strip.  So says Jason and this should not be confused with anything else.

However, I do like the standard tail lights of this era Monaco much better.


Since I keep talking about Hannibal, I feel compelled to tell everyone that Hannibal advertises itself as being America’s Hometown.  Part of that is driven by author Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain having grown up here.

This show was taking place downtown, near the Mark Twain Boyhood Home.  This house is indeed the house Clemens grew up in, having moved to Hannibal from nearby Florida, Missouri, at age four.


If you have ever read Tom Sawyer, Clemens refers to Hannibal by the fictitious name of St. Petersburg.  The county seat of Marion County is Palmyra, referred to as Constantinople in the same book.  Another changed name is that of Becky Thatcher, based upon a girl named Laura Hawkins whom Clemens knew during his adolescent years.

The Becky Thatcher house is directly across the street from the Twain home, a handy location for infatuated pubescent boys.


The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is somewhat like a watered down version of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.; it’s spread out over a large area and a number of buildings.  There are pieces of the museum all along Main Street in Hannibal.  The infamous whitewashed fence is another stop on the tour.

Incidentally, residents of Hannibal can go through the museum for free anytime they want.  Others, specifically the abundance of tourists that frequent Hannibal, aren’t so lucky.  However, it is very informative and contains a number of surprises, such as the collection of Norman Rockwell paintings.


Grant’s Drug Store is adjacent to the Becky Thatcher house; Clemens once worked here.


Many of the buildings downtown are nearly prehistoric for this part of the world.  They have also been flooded countless times over the years, until a levee was built along the riverfront in 1992, just in time for the Flood of 1993.  The building referred to here currently contains an antique store.

I don’t do antique stores, so despite having lived in Hannibal for five years I just stepped foot into this establishment for the first time.  I had reason to talk to “Miss Eula”.


This 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle was one of the cars on display.  It’s a very nice basic sedan, powered by a 230 cubic inch straight-six.  While looking at it, a nearby gentleman and I struck up a conversation.  He told me he mowed for Miss Eula and she had purchased the car brand new.  The antique shop belongs to Miss Eula and he encouraged me to go talk to her.

Going inside, I met Miss Eula who looks and sounds amazing for someone I would guesstimate to be well north of ninety years old (an estimate later seconded by Mrs. Jason).  Miss Eula told me she and her husband bought the car new, but it always ended up being parked in the garage as they always drove one of his service vans or pickups to the store.  This Chevelle has a mere 60,000 miles on it.


Speaking of tourists, this nearby building serviced tourists and locals alike.  Appearing to have closed (and if so, it’s only been within the past year), the building I know as LulaBelle’s Restaurant is a purpose built structure, but not for a being restaurant and its associated bed & breakfast.

Yet this building has always had beds inside as it was built specifically to be a brothel.  It inspired a Packard filled story I wrote long ago, using a Packard I found a block away.


Walking around the downtown area, we decided to walk toward the banks of the Mississippi River.  Having spent all but two years of my life living within two miles of either the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, I will confess my preference for the Mississippi River and it’s always good to get back in touch with it.

Even better, with the car show happening, many others brought their cars out for some fresh air, such as this 1968 Thunderbird.


As they drove off, I wished I had hit the video record button on my camera; it sounded phenomenal.


Had my timing been better, I would have obtained a picture of the Mark Twain Riverboat.  An excursion vessel, it takes daily trips up and down the river, showing all the landmarks referenced in Twain’s books.  The riverboat is normally moored right here.

However, I have liked to think about this place along the riverfront in a different vein.  Perhaps it’s from having read so many Twain novels while living here.  I’ve thought of this area as being where Tom grabbed the skiff to go to Jackson’s Island downriver.  I’ve also imagined this is where Huck Finn and Jim left for their journey.


Living around literary history is great.  Reading about Cardiff Hill was much more vivid with seeing it regularly and knowing what it looked like.

Our house was located on the western edge of Hannibal.  When I read Tom Sawyer to my daughter, I told her that our house was likely in the area where Doctor Robinson was murdered, when Muff Potter was framed for it.  She didn’t quite know what to think about that but the concept fascinated her.


Doc Robinson wasn’t the only thing murdered on the west end of town.  This 1994 Chevrolet Silverado belongs to our former next door neighbors.  With the utility pole being along the property line, my driveway was 20′ to the left of this pickup.  Having to back out and see through both this pickup and a line of trees made for some brake slamming moments and my (and Mrs. Jason) cussing this pickup relentlessly.

Since somebody slammed into his pickup, I’m guessing my old neighbor may not have it much longer.  But you never know – it’s a pickup so nobody around there really cares what it looks like.  Unless the frame has been totally pretzeled, a person could stick a much less handy flatbed on it and be good to go.


I hope you have enjoyed this road trip and my various ramblings about Mark Twain’s old hometown.  When preparing this article I realized the only pictures I took of the Galaxie were from the driver’s seat.


Opportunities for automotive redemption are more rare than a Porsche 924 but the old girl has indeed redeemed herself.  Although the throw-out bearing on the clutch is starting to misbehave….