Taking a trip down memory lane
Classic car show raises $9,000 for Joseph Boxler fund
Hundreds of people attended the Auburn Heights Invitational Historic Auto Display over the weekend, a fundraiser featuring pre-World War II Roadsters and Runabouts, held on the bucolic grounds of the Marshall Mansion and Steam Museum.
The event was perfect for an early autumn day with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s. Hundreds of people wandered the property inspecting the cars, touring the mansion, and participating in the raffle and silent auction.
At least 50 volunteers worked to make the day a success. Their efforts provided the mansion tours, Marshall Steam Museum tours, directing traffic, giving rides on the small steam train, and selling steam popped popcorn.
In his welcome letter published in the event guide book, Tom C. Marshall Jr. shared a memory of riding in a 1929 Packard model 640 rumble seat coupe when he was only 5 years old. He remembered climbing through a golf-club door in it to emerge into the area of the rumble seat. Now, 85 years later, the cars on display made that memory fresh again.
Marshall is still an active part of the Invitational, now in its fifth year, and was highly visible throughout the day enjoying everyone enjoying the cars and the property and mansion that were his lifelong home until 2008 when he and wife Ruth turned it over to the Delaware park system to be operated as a preserve.
The historic cars on display looked at home on the property that includes a mansion built in 1897.
The featured cars this year were Runabouts and Roadsters from 1910-1932, including a 1913 Stanley Model 78 Roadster purchased in 1949 by Tom Marshall’s father, Clarence, and then fully restored in time for its centennial birthday, thanks to the efforts of the FAHP who sent the car to Charles Johnson of the Stanley Shop in Wellsville, York County.
A roadster owned by a local family was getting a lot of attention throughout the day. John and Joyce Rendemonti of Thornbury, Chester County, drove their 1912 Franklin Series 1 Torpedo Roadster down the winding roads of Chester County and into New Castle County, Delaware, for the event.
“It was a beautiful drive,” John Rendemonti said.
Rendemonti holds the distinction of having traveled to 46 consecutive Franklin Treks, an event equivalent to a homecoming for Franklin car owners. His love affair with the Franklin—his 1912 to be exact—began at the age of 13 when he saw it at his first Trek. “I had to have it,” he said. That was 1971 and Rendemonti was too young to drive, and by the time he was of age, the owner would not sell. Persistence paid off for Rendemonti and 15 years ago he learned that same car was for sale at an exotic car dealership in Vineland, New Jersey, and he bought it.
Across the driveway of Auburn Heights was Irene duPont and his 1918 Cadillac Type 57 Touring Car.
The 96 years young duPont drove his Cadillac from Greenville, Delaware, to Auburn
Heights for the Invitational and delighted in it being his fifth year attending.
According to duPont, the car, which he purchased for
$40 in 1939, helped him catch the eye of a pretty girl named Barbara, who has now been his wife for 72 years.
“We are having a grand time on the planet,” he said.
They still enjoy riding in the Cadillac together, and he enjoys tinkering with it.
Aside from an engine overhaul and new coat of blue paint in 1962 the car has required little repair, although it does contain a large spring duPont took from a screen door to replace a similar part not readily available.
Nearby, the West Grove
Fire Company proudly displayed its 1928 Hale Fire Engine. It was the first fire engine the company purchased, paying $4,300, which was a princely sum for a small fire company in the 1920s. The engine was in full-time service until the mid-1950s, when it was replaced by a newer model and sold to a private collector for $150.
According to Bill Wohl, past president and spokesman for the West Grove Fire Company, they lost track of the truck for many years. Then in 2005, Wohl got a surprise phone call. The widow of the private collector who purchased the fire engine in the 1950s wanted to sell it back to the fire department. The department acted immediately and 10 days later had the truck back home. It took a three-year restoration and $125,000 to restore her to her former glory.
Wohl said he has been told that Elsie (named in honor of the widow who sold her) is “the most pristine Hale fire truck from that era.”
He had the honor of driving her from West Grove to Auburn Heights for the Invitational.
It was a grand day for autos and for people who love them and want to see others learn about them.
The event raised approximately $27,000 for the educational programming at Auburn Heights with at least $9,000 going toward the Joseph Boxler Educational Fund, named for a young volunteer from Kennett Square who died young. Boxler was killed in a car crash in 2007. He was a junior at Salesianum School in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Boxler family spent the day cherishing the memory of their son as many people who knew him or volunteered in the Marshall Steam Museum with him, stopped by the food tent for Country Butcher, and shared fond memories with the Boxlers.
Dorothy Boxler said her son “loved cars and he had a huge heart. “
“Yes, he had a big heart and he was generous and thoughtful and loved people of all ages,” Dan Boxler agreed.
In addition to his love of cars, Joseph was a talented musician who played the violin and drums. He was also a cross country runner.
Everywhere they looked, the Boxlers saw and commented on the generosity of the people and businesses who contributed items for the silent auction and the raffle set up to benefit the educational fund to help the museum’s youngest visitors learn about American life at the dawn of the automotive age.
The educational fund has expanded in the last year and now includes training adults to maintain the steam cars and even drive the Stanleys in the collection.
Hundreds of people attended the Auburn Heights Invitational over the weekend.
Pictured are Dan and Dorothy Boxler with friends and family.
Shown is Irene duPont under the hood of his 1918 Cadillac.
Elsie the fire truck on display for West Grove Fire Company.