HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS – 7


Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Friday night, I drove until I got to within 50 miles of Nashville, then checked in to a motel to get some rest, order some food and, above all, soak for a long time in hot bath.

The next morning, I drove to the Lane Motor Museum, getting there a good half an hour before opening time.  Once the museum opened, I barged right in, got to talking to one of the employees, and delivered a CD with my pics from the Tatra factory museum in the Czech Republic.

The museum has such a large collection of vehicles that it cannot display them all at one time.  It therefore has special exhibitions: this time, there was of course the special Tatra exhibition (and it was fabulous!) and an exhibition of minicars (also fabulous), but also a large number of other wonderful vehicles from around the world, all tastefully arranged and immaculately restored.

Here, for instance, is the “Tatra row.”

Here, the “French row”

that includes the interesting 1934 Georges Irat,

not to mention the immortal Citroen TC (a.k.a. traction avant).

The Italians are amply represented, as for instance with this incredibly beautiful 1939 Fiat 508C Balilla,

and the 1963 Fiat 600 Multipla.

There are alternative technology vehicles, like this propeller-driven 1919 Marcel Leyat Helico,

and this Triumph Spitfire Electric, an extremely well engineered private effort.

There is a plethora of early and late (non-Tatra) streamliners, like this 1934 McQuay-Norris Streamliner

and this 1928 Martin Aerodynamic.

There are racers, from this 1925 Tatra T11 Targa Florio (this one’s a replica) that stunned the auto world by winning first and second in the 1925 Targa Florio race;

to the Caldwell D7 CanAm racer.

There is a large section devoted to mini/microcars, from this 1931 Crosley Super Sports

through the three-wheel 1971 Reliant Regal,

and, of course, the inimitable and cuddly Fiat 500

to the real dwarves like this 1964 Scootacar.

Monotrace vehicles were not neglected: there was everything from this 1910 Harley-Davidson (replica, in this instance)

through the 1998 McLean Monowheel.

Try to go on a date on this contraption!

It took me three hours before I could tear myself away, but tear myself away I finally did.  I got on Interstate 40 going east and drove on steadily.  Two hours later, while approaching Crossville, I saw a sign to the Sergeant York Memorial Foundation.

I was intrigued.  I stopped for gas at the Crossville exit, then treated myself to a meal at the Cracker Barrel.  My waitress confirmed that this was indeed the Sergeant York’s Memorial and that is was only about an hour north on Highway 28.  Not knowing when I would pass this way again, I decided to investigate.

An hour-or-so of driving got me to the unincorporated town of Pall Mall, Tennessee, Alvin York’s home town.  There are many things to tour: the York home, general store, grist mill, the church where he worshiped and the small cemetery where he and Gracie rest.  Nearby is the York Foundation, an educational institution.  All in all, it’s a worthy place to visit.

I think it’s time to revisit the movie and, while we’re on the subject of Gary Cooper, also the quirky but satisfying Wreck of the Mary Deare  (Cooper, Heston, Redgrave et al.).  And, now that there is a DVD of Saratoga Trunk, I think I must have it

The remainder of the trip was uneventful: driving, driving and more driving.  A mildly interesting part was the fog (and 18-wheelers all over the place) in the mountain serpentines in the dead of night.  I drove through the night, stopping for gas and food, and twice to nap: once on Interstate 85 heading north from South Carolina, once on Virginia Highway 58 heading east toward Tidewater.

Home around 0900 on Sunday, to Jasper’ s enthusiastic welcome, who was so glad to see me that he peed himself but, anticipating that, I first dragged him outside the front door.  (Oy, the precog brilliance of the Kubat!)  The welcome from the two-legged family members was a sleepy one, but that was okay, because had there been any more enthusiasm, I probably couldn’t have fallen asleep soon after arrival.

All in all, this was ten days well spent, and I think that I’ll do this volunteering thing again.  Anybody want to come along?

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About Michael J. Kubat

I'm a grumpy Czech-born clinical social worker who is vitally interested in the survival in the United States as a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
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