Saturday, July 4th
Early Saturday morning, July 4th, my wife drove me to my cousin’s, Ed Milish, house in Terryville, CT. We loaded up his 1995 Toyota Corolla with all our supplies that would hopefully last us for our week’s trip to Wauseon, Ohio to attend the annual Crosley Automobile Club Nationals. www.crosleyautoclub.com. I’ve been going to Wauseon since 2003 to help the Yankee Crosley boys, Ted and Ed, hawk their Crosley parts and other miscellaneous stuff that they also sell from their website. www.yankeecrosleyparts.com Ed drew the short straw. He got to drive Teddy’s Tahoe that pulled the trailer that carried the parts and would also carry the Crosley back home the following Saturday. I was navigator in the Crosley with Teddy as pilot in command. So the short straw included air conditioning, radio, comfortable seats, all those pleasantries of modern cars. Actually, the seats in the Crosley were very comfortable for our 750 + mile drive to Wauseon, the pop out vents in the front fenders worked well with the sliding windows to keep the cabin cool and comfortable.
The Plan was to leave Ted’s at 7 am, but Ed and I didn’t arrive to Teddy’s until after 7am. We transferred our stuff from the Toyota to the Tahoe and the trailer. After a sendoff from Ted’s family and Roy the Boy (another Crosley owner) we departed from Teddy’s house in Watertown, CT at about 7:30 am. Ted DellaCamera driving his newly restored 48 Crosley Convertible and I, Russ Woodstock, hanging on in the passenger seat trying my best to navigate this wagon train along RT 6 to Wauseon, OH. After Teddy took the 1st corner in the Crosley at 35 mph, I asked him about seat belts and Teddy said, “Real men don’t need no steeenking seat belts.” So, I said, “OK, so when are we stopping at a Starbucks?” There was no reply. I learned if you slide the window back you can hang onto the window frame of the door, sometimes two hands were needed. The windows on a 48 Crosley do not roll down. The door window is two pieces. The front half slides back and the back half slides forward, making it impossible to stick your arm out the window to signal a left/right turn. Remember, 1948 seat belts and turn signals were not required. At departure time the odometer on the Crosley had only 104.5 miles on it since Ed had finished working on the motor. Following the Crosley was Kerm Phelps, driving his Chevy motor home pulling a trailer carrying his beautifully restored 1948 Crosley Flat side pickup. Ed followed Kerm with the Tahoe and the Crosley Parts Trailer. Ted wanted to leave early on Saturday morning because we needed to drive about 20 miles on I-84, picking up I-84 in the Southbury area and getting back on RT 6 in Danbury. When traveling on I-84 at about 55 mph, a number of drivers pulled up along side of us waving at us or giving us the thumbs up, at least I thought it was a thumb. A few took pictures using their cell phones and some just slowed down and gawked which ticked off a number of truck drivers who were trying to get by us on the I-84 hills. We did quite well on I-84, the big trucks didn’t blow us off the road and we climbed all the hills without needing to downshift into 2nd gear. The post war Crosleys were a very small car weighing about 1100 pounds, of course add another 400 pounds with me and Teddy in the car. The 4 cylinder overhead cam engine is very small, 44 cubic inches and for you metric morons, that’s a little less that 750cc.
We crossed the border in Brewster, NY about 8:30 am and then drove on RT 202 until we hooked up again with RT 6 prior to crossing the Hudson River on RT 6 in the Bear Mountain area. Teddy was pleased with the way the motor was running, going up and down the hills in the Bear Mountain area, only had to downshift to 2nd once. Coming down one of the hills there were two deer nibbling on some shrubs along the side of the road. Teddy backed off the accelerator and the engine backfired causing one deer to bolt into the woods and the other to run along beside us for a short time. I was just hoping the buck wouldn’t bolt in front of the Crosley, or worse, mistake the tan canvas convertible top for a doe.
We stopped for gas in New Hampton, NY at 10:10 am. This stop was a little over 100 miles into the trip. The odometer on the Crosley was at 209.8. We filled up and checked the mileage. The Crosley was getting 35 mph, not too shabby for a 60 year old vehicle. Pulled out of the gas station and headed down the road, but Teddy and I missed the left turn that RT 6 took and we drove for awhile into downtown New Hampton before we realized we missed the turn. Turning the Crosley around on side streets is no trouble, but Kerm and Ed had to find roads or large parking lots to turn around in. 15-20 minutes later we were back on RT 6 again heading toward PA. This was just one of the many side trips that were taken during our 3 day adventure to Wauseon.
Heading down a steep hill outside of Port Jervis, we encountered a group of bicyclists traveling about 40-45 mph. At times, they were riding 3 and 4 abreast and blocking the lane making it difficult to get by them. Teddy wanted to beep the horn but I protested, afraid that one of cyclists may have an accident at that speed. So Teddy started passing them one by one. At one point, I glanced over at the speedometer on the Crosley and we were going in excess of 40 mph. I was startled when I glanced to my right and a cyclist passed us on the right. Many folks thought we were crazy driving a Crosley from Watertown, CT to Wauseon, OH, but these cyclists were insane.
We made it through downtown Port Jervis on RT 6 and crossed over into Matamoras, PA. We stopped at the Perkins Family Restaurant which has become our regular stop when we are traveling on the I-84 leg of our many previous journeys to Wauseon. After a breakfast/lunch/bathroom break and a gas stop down the road for Kerm and Ed, we were on the road again by 12:30 pm.
At about 1:15pm we hit our 1st major traffic slowdown coming into Honesdale, PA. At first we thought we got stuck at the tail end of a July 4th parade, which it may have been, but it turned out to be the local Volunteer Fire Department extorting money from those passing through town. We lost 15 to 20 minutes and a couple of bucks and we were on the move again. At some point the gas fumes were getting intolerable in the Crosley, it wasn’t me and Teddy wouldn’t take responsibility. The cap on the spare gas can was leaking, so the contents in the spare gas can were dumped into the Tahoe and we were on our journey again. We took RT 6 Business in Carbondale and then RT 107 in Jermyn to bypass RT6 / I-81 in Scranton. RT 107 hooks back up with RT 6 in Factoryville and we arrived in Tunkhannock at 3:02 pm. We gassed up the Crosley again, 330 miles on the odometer and met up with Mushroom Dave at the gas station. The plan was to meet Dave Anspach, the President of the Crosley Club, in Tunkhannock, PA and he would drive with us to Wauseon, OH. Dave works for Giorgio Foods (who purchased the Franklin, CT Mushroom farm), hence the name Mushroom Dave. Dave was traveling from his home in Blandon which is the southeastern part of PA. Tunkhannock was our 1st night stop; we had traveled about 215 miles from Watertown, CT. Dave was driving his big Dodge pickup, pulling a box trailer that carried his 1941 fresh-out-of-the-barn Crosley pre-war sedan and his award winning 1951 red Crosley Hot Shot. We all drove to the outskirts of Tunkhannock to stay the night at the Skyline Motor Inn. After settling in at the motel, BS’ing a little, and giving the Crosley a once over, we headed to the Fireplace Restaurant just a mile west of the motel for dinner. Teddy had to make two trips to cart the five of us to the restaurant. After dinner, back at the motel, there was more maintenance on the Crosley; adjusted the clutch, minor repair to the starter and adjusted the idle on the carburetor. Dave and Teddy shared/split a room and the Skyline folks were kind enough to let Ed and Kerm park their trailers for the night. Ed, Kerm and I slept in the motor home.