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Created by serious people just for fun . . .

By Frank Starkes
It was Sunday morning, the sun was warm, the top was down with a crisp air blowing about, the old 390 was humming to perfection, and "Wow", it just doesn't get much better than this. As we headed North, enjoying the beautiful countryside of South Jersey with its truck farms, neatly kept homes, and small towns, our minds were overflowing with the memories of the last five days in Millville at the 5th Annual ITC Convention. What a great convention this was from start to finish, and Jim and Darlene Osowski and their committee can very well be proud of the job they did.

To plan five days of activities with food, beverages, lodging, door prizes, give-aways, table decorations, hospitality room supplies, name tags, announcement boards, and god knows what else for 150 plus people is a monumental task indeed. It was done, and done so well that everything worked like a precision clock. From Wednesday evenings cruise to "General Custard's Last Stand" complete with local guide in a red 57 Baby Bird, to the farewell breakfast at The Country Inn, our theme slogan was never more evident. "Created by Serious People, Just For Fun.

Thursday morning offered a choice of a Cruise to beautiful Ocean City and a walk on the Boardwalk, or a day to spend at Wheaton Village next door to the hotel, or what ever you wished to do. We opted for investigating this mysterious place called Wheaton Village, and we were very pleased with what we found. Our first stop was at the glass blowing building to watch Artisans make some very beautiful glass vases. Did you ever look at a vase and wonder how the scallops around the top and the flutes in the sides were made? Well, now we know. Next we watched a potter craft a beautiful bowl of clay on a potters wheel; also a pretty neat thing to observe.

Then on to the wood carver, the glass figurine maker, and then a trip to the 1900's Country Store. This was great fun to try to figure out what all the gadgets and gizmos were used for before we had help from electricity. It was noon already, and we selected an old Railroad baggage cart for our picnic table to enjoy a sandwich and a drink, which refueled the bones for our afternoon adventures.

Our next stop was at the museum, and this building held more things to see and enjoy than it was possible for the mind to absorb. There were many thousands of pieces of glassware including the usual vases, bowls, glassware, etc.; but the unusual items are what got our attention. Glass used in medical treatments, industrial glass, glass made into objects of art, glass used in home decorating, cookware, and on and on. A highlight was the largest glass bottle in the world, blown at Wheaton Village in 1992, and stood over 7' tall and held over 184 gallons. This museum is a must see if ones travels should ever take them to South Jersey.

Back to the Inn for a refreshing swim in the pool and then it was time to get ready for our bus trip to Atlantic City about an hour away. We arrived at "The Showboat Casino and Hotel" at 6:00 for a four hour night on the town. We opted to indulge ourselves in one of the gala Buffets, where all you can eat crab legs, shrimp, and just about everything else imaginable was there for the asking. With stomachs uncomfortably full, a walk on the Boardwalk was a must, and finally before our trip back to the hotel a short visit to the Casino to tempt lady luck was our choice. As everyone boarded the bus, it was evident that a good time was had by all.

Friday arrived sunny and hot, and this was the day that most of us had set aside for taking our Birds to the Birdbath. Once the cars were all cleaned, polished, and tweaked to perfection; a trip around the parking lot took us to a picture spot where each car was photographed for a surprise to come later. Friday afternoon was for meetings, with a Judges meeting at one, and a general meeting at three. A real boomer of a thunderstorm took over the general meeting about half way through, with news of a possible tornado in the area. This broke up the meeting real fast and had everyone a little jittery, but the storm passed without any problems.

Friday evening was an evening for fun. We all gathered at the Banquet Hall for a scrumptious barbecue complete with all the trimmings, followed by the drawing for prizes, and prizes they had. It appeared that everyone went home with a treasure.

Saturday was a beautiful day for a Car Show and judging. We drove our cars from the Inn around the corner and right through the main gates of Wheaton Village. The cars were parked in a double row on the grassy common ground separating the two main streets of this beautiful park. What a nesting place, with tall trees, period buildings, and a park-like setting. The Birds never looked better. Judging started promptly at 9:00, and was completed by Noon. A very smooth operation indeed and the overall quality of the cars just keeps getting better and better. Saturday afternoon was free to do whatever one wished. Some started packing up, some just hung out and visited; we opted for a bit more time in the museum.

When everyone arrived on Wednesday, the Banquet seemed far off, but when you're having fun the time just slips away. Yes, here we are, Saturday evening already. The ladies are all gussied up and the gentlemen have cleaned the grease from beneath their fingernails too. Excitement was in the air! How did our cars fare? Soon we would know!

After a delicious meal, we were in for yet another treat. Doug Gaffka, the head Engineer from Ford in charge of the design of the new Thunderbird was introduced as our guest speaker. Coming from Detroit, he arrived just in time after some unforeseen delays at the airports, and certainly made the evening a memorable one. Of course, we all wanted to know much more about this new Thunderbird than he was at liberty to tell us, but one thing is for sure. It will be an all new unique car, and from what he said it should have flair from the past combined with the technology of the future. Time will tell, but we know it can be done because Volkswagen has already done it.

And finally it was awards time. This year the plaques were again a real surprise. On Friday each of the Birds was photographed as I had mentioned earlier, and these photos were attached to each award, making it not only a very nice remembrance of Millville, but adding a personal touch. A very clever idea and a very nice one. It appeared that everyone was pleased, and felt that the Judges did a good job. I know Jean and I were pleased to again receive a 2nd place with our 62 Roadster, as this is a car that is driven not only to the International Meets, but sees plenty of shows in our local area as well as Sunday drives.

It is hard to cover our five days in Millville in a not-too-lengthy story. I wanted to at least relate the highlights of the meet, in hopes that our members who were not able to attend or chose not to attend could get a flavor of what an International Meet is all about. Maybe they'll even get excited enough to plan to attend in 1999. Each and every year we grow in numbers, the meets become more and more exciting, there are more and more cars, and one thing is for sure...