Survival in a Model T
The annual Ocean to Ocean Reunion - part 2
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, July 17, 2014
“The Mashantucket Pequot is a federally recognized Native American nation in the state of Connecticut. They are descended from the Pequot people. Within their Reservation in Ledyard, Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot operate Foxwoods Resort Casino. It is the world's largest resort casino in terms of gambling space and number of slot machines, and one of the most economically successful.”… Wikipedia
…To achieve certification as a Native American, ancestral lineage can consists of as little as 1/16 Indian blood... I could not tell if there were any Indians around...VK
Now let me tell you about Foxwoods....When driving westward on Ct Route 2 into a forested wilderness, there suddenly loom three huge towers, soaring above miles of rolling hills and treetops: colossal structures, reminiscent of the biblical Tower of Babel. Their groteske architecture is pure Las Vegas. The garish interiors of the Casino are pompous; they are Sodom and Gomorrah on steroids. Old ladies, wizened gents, oversized men and women perched on raised swivel chairs, engrossed in the act of feeding hundreds of slot-machines with millions of dollars, 24 hours a day, seven days a week…Once, many, many years ago, slots swallowed pennies, quarters and for the big spenders: silver dollars. The occasional winner was rewarded with the satisfactory sound of coins dropping out of the hopper and overflowing into the laps of the lucky winner. There was the satisfaction of pulling a lever that gave a sense of skill; you controlled the speed and somehow held Lady Luck in your hand. That’s gone; today you must buy slugs from the cashier, insert a five-dollar bill to activate the machine and push a button to watch the three cylinders spin. On rare occasion three picture images will align and you have won… An electronic noise will simulate the sound of falling coins. Instead of a pocket full of cash, a slip of paper pops out that is the record of your winning… That is the pleasure of the modern slot machine!
I arrived with a pocket full of silver dollars that a friend gave me…. and returned home with the same amount…. Gambling was not on my agenda.
unspoiled forrest's as far as the eye can see until you come upon two "Towers of Babel" piercing through the landscape
the electronic key to my room on the 21st floor
Willard Revaz and Bob Osborn, our congenial Connecticut hosts chose Foxwoods as a convenient location to fan out from. The rooms were luxurious, the group rates reasonable and the food plentiful. We were provided with designated safe parking for our gaggle of antique cars… What more could we ask for!
The second day’s excursion was a mere fifty miles roundtrip to the Gillette Palace; a pile of stones built into a twenty eight-room mansion by an eccentric actor. Back at the turn of the century, William Gillette’s major claim to fame was interpreting Sherlock Holmes in thousands of performances around the USA… It also made him a multi-millionaire. The palace was interesting for its bizarre interior features and the magnificent view of the Connecticut River.
Lunchtime: with our stomachs grourling for food, we found a Subway sandwich shop to fill the empty cavities in our tummies. I must confess that a fully loaded baget is my favorite sin-food. But you never know who you will meet where! A model T is a crowd magnet. A delightful man sauntered up to our cars and proceeds to tell us of his collection just a few miles away... and off we scoot in search of a zany model T collectors in the backwoods of Connecticut.
our new friend, Richard Beckwith, showing us his collection of antique cars
the training vessel Joseph Conrad moored alongside the restoration shipyard
No visit to this part of Connecticut is complete without a day at Mystic Seaport: the destination for our third day of touring. Seaport is a beautifully preserved fishing village and home to the only fully restored, commercial Whaling ship still afloat, the Charles W. Morgan. Unfortunately, it had set sail up the coast of New England the day before we arrived.
The only existing operative steamboat with its original engines ticking away down below
The salvaged keel of a sunken whaling ship
The working lumberyard used for the Museum's ship restoration program
Entrance to the Submarine Museum at Groton Connecticut... the two rings represent the smallest and largest submarine every built
On our final day was another “boy’s adventures” visit to the Submarine Museum at Groton. The showpiece of the Museum was The Nautilus, the first atomic submarine built over sixty years ago. In spite of my limitations, I climbed down its narrow steep steps into the bowls of the ship. A claustrophobic chamber of gages tubes, pipes, and crew quarters that are not everyone’s vision of comfort.
Retuning home from this pleasant visit, the “fun” began. Chuckling up the steep three floors to the hotel’s parking garage, my car sputtered, spat fumes, and finally DIED ten feet from the top! …. At first it stood still…. My heart jumped into my throat… moments later we began the perilous roll backwards… NO BRAKES! (It is a notorious fact that Henry Ford’s clever Rocky Mountain brakes work extremely well rolling forward but NOT backwards!
It was a moment of pure terror… Memories flashed back to four years ago when Erica and I started to slide backwards on a hairpin turn on Smuggler’s Notch, the steepest mountain pass in Vermont….
Just before we were about to start a roller-coaster ride down the three floors of the garage and almost certain disaster, my daughter Jessica, who was the designated map-reader for the day, had the instantaneous reflex to grab my airplane chuck, jump out of the car and plant it under the back wheel, stopping the car’s free-fall roll… Saved one more time!
Again, Doug came to the rescue and crawled under the car to determine that I had worn out the driving band, a mysterious strap of Teflon that propels the car forward in low gear. This was serious. He managed to tighten it enough to drive the last ten feet up to our designated parking area… that was it. The “Lizzie” could go no further.
Doug to the rescue once again - note the chuck behind the back wheel... it stopped our roller-coaster ride down the garage ramp
Doug adjusting his tools - note the roller-coaster ramp to the bottom
When things get desperate, there is always a guardian angel! This time he came in the form of Adam Hubacz… a dedicated Model T mechanic, who lived some eighty miles north near the New Hampshire border. Adam had worked on my car before and I persuaded him to drive down to Foxwoods and replace the worn-out band. He arrived at 10 PM and started to take the engine apart. Chris stood by and took gory photos of the process reminiscent of Gray’s Anatomy. Hours past midnight the final blow fell: I had burned out the internal drive-drum… No repair could be affected without the complete removal of the engine. The only solution was to tow the car to Adam’s farm in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, where it now rests and awaits his patient skill on “T” time.
Doug's dog could care less - She just enjoyed the ride!