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Who in Blazes is Clarence Carpenter?

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:33 pm
by oldcarfudd
The 2019 HCCA Convention at Sea is over. Actually, it wasn’t all at sea; the last meeting of the old board and the first meeting of the new board, as well as the banquet and membership meeting, took place on dry land in Tampa. In between, there was a 5-day Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Paradise. Planned by outgoing VP and incoming President Steve Cook, the major legwork was done by Adam and Jamie Walkup, who own a travel service in Tampa. Adam also drove the tour bus that took us from the Tampa hotel to and from the Paradise, and gave us a great tour of parts of Tampa after the cruise was over. Now I know why Adam has no trouble driving a mere Stanley Mountain Wagon!
Jamie, Clark and Adam Walkup in Havana, enjoying the fruits of their labor
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The Walkups gave us an advance look at the list of cruise participants. But we didn’t realize until later that it had been made up from peoples’ passport names, so we thought Clarence Carpenter was someone who had become a member too recently to be in the roster. Turns out it was just our favorite loveable curmudgeon, Skip. Who knew?
Skip, traveling incognito as Clarence Carpenter
The first cruise stop was at Key West. The Paradise had to dock at the Coast Guard station because the civilian dock had been damaged. There were massive delays, so we had very little time in port before we had to get back aboard. But the tourist trolley ride had lots of fun information. For example:

1. We saw Mile 0 on U.S. Route 1, where the temperature was 82; the other end of the road, at mile 2369 in northern Maine, was registering minus 18. Most of us thought 82 was delightfully warm. But Russell and Christine Holden thought it was delightfully cool; they’re from New South Wales, Australia, where the February (summer) temperatures are often over 100.
Russell and Christine Holden, escaping a brutal Australian summer

2. In 1982 the Border Patrol blockaded U.S. 1, searching cars for drugs and aliens. The Key West economy, highly dependent on tourism, went into the tank, but the BP didn’t give a hoot. Inspired by “The Mouse that Roared”, KW seceded as the Conch Republic and declared war on the U.S. The mayor attacked a naval officer by whopping him over the head with a loaf of stale bread, and then surrendered and demanded a billion dollars in foreign aid. After that hit the national news, the Border Patrol gave up and went home.

3. The Customs House and Post Office was built to the federal standards of 1891, with a very steeply pitched metal roof to avoid snow buildup. It seems to have worked, since no snow has ever accumulated on that roof.

Joan and I had a fine lunch, and even better mojitos, at El Meson de Pepe, a Cuban restaurant, before scurrying back to the ship. That night the dress code was “elegant”. Several of us wore period costume, to the bemusement of the hundreds of passengers who had never heard of HCCA and wondered whether we were part of the entertainment.
Steve and Brenda Rinaldo, looking elegant
Andy and Tricia Wallace, looking elegant
Executive Secretary Sharon Gooding and her daughter, Lindsey Jackson, looking elegant; Lindsey will write an article about this event for the May-June Gazette
Gil the Elder and Joan Fitzhugh; at least Joan is looking elegant!
We docked in Havana before dawn. We had been warned that debarkation might be excruciatingly slow and bureaucratic, but the Cubans handled us very efficiently. U.S. regulations required us to go on an approved People-to-People tour, so we were on a good Chinese bus with a knowledgeable Cuban guide, who was trained as an accountant but who can make more from tips – and in convertible currency to boot - as a tour guide. The initial impression is dilapidated elegance in the historic parts of the city, some of which is being carefully restored, and just plain dilapidation elsewhere. A huge, but empty, park is dedicated to José Martí, hero of Cuba’s war of independence from Spain and considered his country’s George Washington – more on him later. We were driven to Muraleando, a community art project doing murals and other art forms while resurrecting a run-down neighborhood; some folks made music and danced for us.
A mural at Muraleando
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Local artists display their work at Muraleando
We experienced the three-part Cuban cultural “marriage”: cigars, coffee and rum. I don’t smoke, but the coffee and rum were good and the cigars smelled better than most. Our new President especially enjoyed the cigars.
Nancy Ladd, are you really gonna smoke that thing?
Marvin Feldman wonders whether Steve Cook is going to smoke two cigars at once!
We had a good lunch, and went to a flea market afterwards. While some private business is now allowed, the bus, the guide, our lunch stop, and Muraleando were all government sponsored.

Oh, yes, the ‘50s cars. They’re all over central Havana. Joan got a couple of pictures from the bus.
Typical parallel parking scene
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Pink is a popular color
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When the cars become available to us for purchase, they won’t be worth restoring – too many aftermarket changes to undo. But they’ll be fascinating to take to unjudged shows and tours as examples of a people’s ingenuity. In Spanish, mechanics are called mecánicos. But in Cuba, the people who keep these relics running are called magos – magicians. I approached the driver of this Buick and told him I had an older Buick – 1912.
Not a bad way to enjoy a summer drive in Havana
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At first, he thought my Spanish was faulty. Then I showed him pictures on my cellphone. Magos appeared in profusion, passed my phone around while zooming in on details of brass cars, and asked questions in increasingly excited Spanish – I had to keep asking them to slow down.

We left Havana harbor in the late afternoon, passing the ancient Spanish fortifications while many cell-phone cameras clicked.
If you're wondering what all those tourists want a picture of - - -
- - - it's this. Imagine trying to bring a hostile sailing ship past this, when it bristled with cannon!
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The following morning we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Joan and I took a catamaran ride to where we could snorkel on a reef with a gazillion other folks, followed by lunch on a beach with swimming and sea kayaking available. Some tourists just hung around the port and spent money, which the natives made very easy to do.
A genuine Cozumel experience - spending money
Some took a much longer trek to Chichén Itzá, the ancient Mayan ruin, and came away much impressed.

We had a full day at sea returning to Tampa. Several of us took a behind-the-scenes tour of the galley, laundry, engine control room, and the bridge, where we met the captain. We weren’t allowed to bring phones or cameras; they may not want Disney to know how efficient their laundry is. The officers are Italian and Croatian, and the crew comes from all over. One young waiter from Sikkim was delighted to talk to Joan, the only passenger he’d ever met who had been there. Among other statistics, the ship normally carries 2,050 passengers and blows through 7,000 pounds of chicken, 2,100 pounds of shrimp, 3,200 bagels, 45,000 eggs and 300 liters of rum a week. She was built 21 years ago in Finland. A new one is being built to carry three times as many passengers; thank you, but I won’t be one of them.

After we disembarked in Tampa, Adam Walkup met us with his bus and gave us a fine tour. Most of it was in Ybor City, now a district of Tampa, founded in the 19th century by Cuban and Spanish exiles who established a thriving cigar industry. Many groups of immigrants – Spaniards, Italians, European Jews, white Cubans and black Cubans – this was the Jim Crow South, remember – each had their own competing, and occasionally cooperating, societies that provided assistance and health care. We had a fine lunch at Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Florida (1905) and (allegedly) the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.
Jim and Jean Boyden at Columbia
David Loving and Nancy Wall at Columbia
Adam drove us to a tour of the Yuengling brewery. (It’s based in Pottstown, PA, but it’s growing.) Then he drove us all the way back to Cuba, and didn’t even get the tires wet! Remember José Martí, the hero of Cuba? He made many trips between New York and Ybor City in the 1890s to raise money for the revolution against Spain; he died in the Spanish-American war. In the early 1950s, a group of Martí admirers in Ybor City bought a parcel of land about the size of a basketball court and donated it to the Cuban nation as a friendship park. It went through some diplomatic gyrations after Castro took over, but it’s still Cuban territory and has flown the Cuban flag all these years. Right in Tampa!
A bit of Cuba in Tampa
After we visited the Ybor City museum and some prefab housing built by Señor Ybor for his cigar workers, Adam drove us back to the hotel, where we checked in and got ready for the farewell banquet. The best part of the banquet was the announcement that this year’s Marian Welch award, the club’s highest, was given to Frank and Laura Hurley. You’ll soon get the March-April Gazette with a full write-up of the Hurleys, and many pictures. Meanwhile, enjoy this snapshot. Congratulations to both!
Marian Welch award winners Frank and Laura Hurley
Photos by Gil the Elder and Joan Fitzhugh

B.S. or Deathless Prose (you decide!) by Gil Fitzhugh the Elder

Re: Who in Blazes is Clarence Carpenter?

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:14 am
by JeffP/Mn
Great Report Gil!
“When the cars become available to us for purchase, they won’t be worth restoring – too many aftermarket changes to undo.”
You are observation during my trip to Cuba last year was approximately 75% of the “convertibles” seen in Havana are actually former two door sedans and hardtops with the roofs removed. Some are rebraced/supported structurally and some not. Still fun to see them all running around town!

Marian Welch Award

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:51 am
by jeff deringer
Congratulations to my friends Frank and Laura Hurley for being presented with the Marian Welch Award! Frank is definitely an ambassador for the hobby, always willing to talk to people who look at our cars on tour, putting on many, many great tours, holding local and national offices, and helping out club members like me with problems with our cars. Laura adopted the old car hobby seamlessly and has been a great asset and friend to us in the Portland chapter. A great and deserving pair!

Re: Who in Blazes is Clarence Carpenter?

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:56 pm
by oakland12
Another great report Gill. Thanks for posting it.