Copyright Vladimir Kagan July 3, 2012
The Model T has always been affectionately referred to as the tin Lizzie
This is my paraphrase on the classic ditty
“Ten little Injuns”
TEN LITTLE LIZZIES
By Vladimir Kagan with help from Peter McAlister
There were ten little Lizzies standing in line
One broke an axle and then there were nine
Nine little Lizzies all looking great
One got a hiccup and then there were eight
Eight little Lizzies bent some fenders
One went to heaven and then there were seven
Seven little Lizzies played in the sticks
One got a splinter and then there were six
Six little Lizzies went for a drive
One took a nosedive and then there were five
Five little Lizzies looked hard-core
But one threw a rod and then there were four
Four little Lizzies went on a spree
One hit a tree and then there were three
Three little Lizzies went to the zoo
One lost a break-shoe and then there were two
Two little Lizzies stood in the sun
One got too much and then there was one
One little Lizzie off on a run
Drove over the edge and then there ‘wuz’ none! *
Poor little Lizzies
*…The last little Lizzie that drove over the edge almost was Erica and I on last year’s Vermont Tour! We were driving up Smuggler’s Notch, the steepest mountain pass in New England, when we ran out of gas, as the gravit- fed fuel just didn’t reach the engine… (there is no fuel pump in a Lizzie). Then, to our horror, we found that Rocky Mountains breaks don’t work backwards as we rolled down the steep hill out-of-control … only God and a mossy boulder saved us from going over the edge.
Our tour was to consist of seven cars. But like my little poem, all but two dropped by the wayside. (One owner had a knee replacement – one a triple bi-pass – another a broken axle – one got swamped with work – alas, we were down to two Ts: Dolph Cramer, my buddy for over sixty years – (who helped me buy my Lizzie 43 years ago), drove his 1918 Doctor's Coup and I chuck-chucked along in my 1922 Center Door Sedan. As co-pilots, we had the delightful company of two Brits: Peter McAllister and Ian Evan, who had agreed to fly over from England and do the tour with us… These guys had perfect credentials, having driven a Model T across the United States in both directions. Their company assured us of good camaraderie and impeccable road service. (Peter is the quintessential Model T mechanic. When he’s not messing with T’s, Peter restores antique airplanes dating from World War 1 up to the prewar English Tiger Moths.) Bringing up our rear in a chase-car was my daughter Vanessa Diserio, with her 12-year-old daughter Gigi, as the official Google Map reader and photographer.
Ian was Dolph’s muse and I had “Saint” Peter. Gigi was the master Google navigator. Vanessa tootled behind us in a comfy Minivan, with her flashers pulsating. The girls' mission was to keep us on the straight and narrow. Like a good shepherd, they kept us heading in the right direction by weaving us through road barriers, detours, construction, and dead-end streets… At times, it was necessary for them to creep up on the lead car (mostly Dolph) as he blithely navigated by the seat-of-his-pants, driving off in the wrong direction.
Vanessa Diserio our shepherd and her daughter Gigi, the official photographer and Google navigator
This year’s “Mellow” Model T Tour” was for drivers and owners who did not want to see another Mountain! The steepest hills we’d encounter would be the three bridges on our path. They nicely challenged our Lizzies' muscles. The ground rules for this trip were short legs, lovely New England coastlines, quaint villages, charming Inns, elegant eating and plenty of interesting sightseeing for a “boys trip."
For starts, Peter and Ian drove Dolph’s Lizzie from South Hampton to Nantucket… Dolph did the civilized thing and flew to the Island. Peter immediately proceeded to tinker with my car, greasing and oiling parts that I had neglected for forty years, adjusting wheel bearings, connecting the Rocky Mountain Breaks that had been incorrectly installed the year before and fine-tuned the engine for our road trip. In between these preparations, my guests arrived in time for our Yacht Club’s opening (a festive occasion celebrated with free booze and chow), a visit to the Whaling Museum, sit in on a Wharf Rat’s Gam and went cruisin’ in the T’s over the moors and bumpy cobble stone roads of our historic town.
On Monday we departed Nantucket by ferry to Hyannis and drove the 20 odd miles along picturesque route 6A to Sandwich… as promised, it was the start of a delightful mellow road trip.
Departing Nantucket on the MV Eagle to Hyannis
Dolph's Doctor Coup on the ferry
Sandwich, is a charming 1600 town at the southern tip of Cape Cod. Left mostly in tacked with its historic wooden houses, churches and mature tree-lined streets, some dating back to revolutionary days. Our friend Dee Madden owns one of these gems. As her late husband Paul, was one of the exemplary antique dealers in the neighborhood; their house is chucker-block full of treasures worthy of a museum… To satisfy our cultural appetite we had a private tour of the Heritage Museum’s impeccable antique car collection, housed in a replica of the Round Barn at the Hancock Shaker Village in Vermont. After exotic horse d’eufs and cocktails at Dee’s we staggered back to our hotel, the Historic Daniel Webster Inn for dinner and a good night’s rest. In the interest of authenticity, our bedrooms were furnished with four-poster beds high enough off the ground to require a two-step step stool. (Woe for anyone getting up at night not remembering the drop off the cliff to make it to the “John”.
Beautiful wooden churches in Sandwich
My all-time favorite classic: a 1937 Cord
Dee Maddens exquisite home in Sandwich
Our first "mountain crossing" - the Sagamore Bridge leaving Cape Cod for the mainland
The next morning we bush-wacked our way through the hinterlands of Massachusetts to Fall River. This was the only lugubrious portion of our journey: threading our way through fifty odd miles of back roads, and nameless streets through the endless townships en route. Our destination was Battleship Cove, a naval museum on Narragansett Bay. Though the drive took us more than three hours, it was thrilling to see the majestic Battleship Massachusetts looming up in front of us. The size – the power – the history of this amazing ship deserve an entire article. The ship was built in 1942 and saw its first action in the African Campaign to help capture Casablanca. We saw two of World War II’s naval wonders; the wooden PT boats that raised havoc among the German and Japanese navies. Arriving later than planned, we missed visiting the submarine Lionfish, the destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. and the captured German corvette minelayer Hiddensee. To do justice to the museum, you must give it the better part of a day… Through the dedicated efforts of a few Vets, this historic Battleship was saved from the scrap heap. The museum is unique as it is receives no funding from the State, City or Navy. To maintain this flotilla it desperately needs your support even if you are not a World War II aficionado.
Ian, Peter and myself in front of the impressive Battleship Massachusetts
Little old me sitting on a capstan for the anchor chains of the massive Battleship
A vintage dive-bomber being loaded with amunition - the 1942 Brass bell of the Masachusetts
To be continued tomorrow with segment two