Growing up surrounded by old cars in Shelton

I had grown up with Model A's and some Model T's. At one point when I was just a kid, my father had 13 in various forms — from a restored ’23 Roadster, an all-original slant windshield cabriolet, to just an AA frame and everything in between. I used to play on them long before I understood what they were.

When I was about 6 years old, I realized the attention they brought when my two sisters and I would sell our sweet corn out of the back of a late ’31 closed-cab pickup next to the two-lane highway. Some stopped for the corn and some stopped to check out the Model A, but in the end, they almost always bought corn once they stopped.

I remember the swap meets that we'd go to at least once a month in the summer and fall. It seemed that 90% of the cars were Model A's and Model T's.

One time we had several people jogging along the truck bidding on an old rusted-out Roadster body. Dad had it sold even before we got to our vendor location. Those were the days!

An awesome 16th birthday gift

I began to work on an early ’28 Tudor when I was age 15, and Dad gave it to me for my 16th birthday — what an awesome gift. I drove it as my every day car in high school. Needless to say, it was not a chick magnet and I didn't get many dates in the early 1980s.

After college I lost interest in old cars as I got busy with life, the new family, the house, etc., and sold it when I was in my late 20s and no longer had a garage to keep it in.

Now in my 40s, my love for the old cars recently was rekindled and I joined two local Model A clubs.

Mostly ‘modern cars’ at shows now

As I began to attend antique car swap meets and shows again, I found it disappointing that 95% are now “modern cars” from the 1940s to ’80s. The last swap meet I went to had only about four out of several hundred vendors that had Model A or T parts.

In 2011, a friend who also is a new Model A enthusiast suggested that we have our own meet and limit it just to the older cars we want to see — Model A's and Model T’s.

I kind of shrugged it off, but as I became more disappointed in the muscle-car invasion, I began to think about it more. Then we decided to give it a try. If it worked out OK, maybe we would then make it an annual event.

The first Old Car Meet in 2011

So, in an effort to promote interest in automotive history and to share knowledge, in May 2011 we organized the first Model T&A Meet at Beardsley's Cider Mill parking lot, 278 Leavenworth Road (Route 110).

All week long the weather forecasters predicted rain for the day of the meet, but Saturday came and it was very cloudy, but not a drop of rain. I was excited about the meet but nervous that it might not be very well attended. It was a big experiment for us.

The event began at 10 a.m. and by 9:45 we had about two dozen cars lined up. I must admit I was a bit disheartened, but then you could hear them putt-putting up the hill to the farm. They started coming in groups — first Model As, then Model Ts.

Intermingling and chatting

By 10:45 our parking lot was full of them. I was ecstatic. I couldn't get the smile off my face. I looked around and everybody was intermingling and chatting. My father had the same look — and was a social butterfly.

We had several different clubs participating and there was great interaction. I dragged an old ’31 chassis I had out of the hay barn, complete with hayseed and cobwebs. It was a big hit with owners as well as spectators. By 11 a.m., a group had begun tinkering and that old thing was running better than my driver.

I had many people congratulate me on a great first Meet, and several more vowed to come again with their cars. I hope to have more involvement from some local antique car service providers as well as even more cars each year. We have plenty of space in the fields and parking areas to expand, so please come on out to visit on May 18.

Many people to thank

Thanks to Lenny Mercurio for not only suggesting we have this specialized event, but for all the support he and his wife Rachel gave to make it a great success. Thanks to Dad for providing the place to have it. But most of all thank you Model T and Model A owners for participating and making this a great tradition.

The third annual Old Car Meet (1931 and earlier) will take place Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Beardsley's Cider Mill parking lot, 278 Leavenworth Road (Route 110), Shelton (rain date is Sunday, May 26). Admission and parking are free; lunch will be available.

Cars and old cart parts vendors from 1931 and earlier are welcome as well as interested spectators. For information call Dan Beardsley at 203-925-9746.