It may have been damp. There may have been some hair-raising bolts of lightning. But the Wichita On Wheels Reunion happened as planned last weekend and the participants who braved the weather seemed to have a pretty good time.
The occasion was a celebration of 10 years of the publication of the Eagle’s auto enthusiast page, staged as a part of the BlackTop Nationals car show. Anyone who had a vehicle featured during that time was welcome to come and check out each other’s rides, swap stories and compare notes.
To no one’s surprise, some badly-needed rainfall kept the car count down. But what began as a handful of cars gradually grew during the day to fill a full block of Waterman Street with a nice variety of vehicles, from the little red Bantam roadster restored by Kenneth Goering to the big, black 1941 Cadillac sedan displayed by proud owner David Himes.
A good bit of the day was spent wiping down wet sheet metal, but more than one participant noted, "If this is what it takes to get it to rain, so be it."
Wichita Eagle executive editor Sherry Chisenhall agreed to pick the winners of two trophies handed out to Wheels cars, as our publisher, Kim Nussbaum, couldn’t be at the reunion.
Sherry immediately zeroed in on Tom Sparkman’s gorgeous 1955 Buick, resplendent in deep Brandywine paint, as her personal favorite, giving it the Editor’s Choice award. She struggled a bit with the rest of the contenders before she settled on JoEva Wheeler’s recently completed 1939 Chevy sedan as the winner of the Publisher’s Pick trophy. The car’s two-toned white and green paint job seemed to tip the scales on that one.
Gary Knox brought the beautiful ’52 Ford Fordor he built as an anniversary gift for his late wife, Mary, and its golden yellow paint added a needed bright spot on an overcast day. Ed Garman’s jet black ’40 Ford coupe from El Dorado looked every bit as good as the day it appeared on the Wheels page several years ago.
Jerry Resser showed up with his turquoise and white 1956 Chevy Nomad, which provided the artwork for the Wheels Reunion/Blacktop Nationals dash plaques handed out to each participant. Everyone also got a nifty "Wichita On Wheels Featured Car" sticker for their window.
Unfortunately, shortly after the choices were made for the two Wheels awards, the off-and-on drizzle turned into an all-out cloudburst, complete with the aforementioned jabs of lightning, sending everyone scrambling for cover. Once it let up, most of our folks fired their cars up and headed for home.
So our grand awards ceremony was washed out, but the trophies found their way into the winners’ hands anyway. And naturally, then the sun came out.