Fall Feast in Hershey

And that wonderland returns each year, magically in Brigadoon fashion, for new marvels to be explored and exciting discoveries to be revealed.

It was a total surprise to gain a close look at this unrestored
1927 Pierce-Arrow, ready for a new owner at the 2008 meet.

Last year was no exception. Early in the morning, as the meet was gaining full steam and the final tents were sprung tall, I rambled through one hard-surfaced field. “Not like it used to be,” I quacked internally. “No grass to walk, no mud to slosh, no….” Then I saw it. There stood a 1927 Pierce-Arrow two-door sedan, unrestored, staring with big, buggy eyes, stately and typical of the brand.

“H-e-l-l-o!” I whispered in stark surprise. In the swap field, an occasional car is displayed for sale, and such was the case with this Pierce. Lost in time and oblivious to space, I was absorbed by the car’s contours, condition and appeal. For a moment it was 1927, plus a little surface rust.

The asking price was $18,500. As most collectors know, even firm prices have a way of being adjusted as the meet winds toward conclusion. However, the price seemed good and attractive for this particular Classic.

A person needs to linger a while at Hershey. Between the aroma of fresh chocolate wafting through the air and the scent of old iron, woolen interiors and fried food, it’s good to simply stop and ponder. Appreciate. Enjoy. Discover.

Having had my share of the surprising appearance, I forged onward.

Among the other surprises that day was a Paige from the early 1920s. It, too, was in remarkable and unrestored shape. But the “for sale” sign was gone in minutes. The seller, who had a modest number of items in his space, told me the short story. About 15 minutes after he uncovered the car and set up the price sign, the car had a new owner. It was to be shipped overseas.

“Drat!,” I thought to myself. “Not a pleasant surprise to know such an American treasure is leaving our shores.” But I kept the assessment to myself.

The seller was quite happy with the deal, his price having been met. Still, he sensed my consternation. “I didn’t expect it to go overseas, but others had a chance to keep it here,” he said with a hint of disappointment. Having watched the rise of the Euro above that of the American dollar, I thought it was clearly a bargain for a European buyer.
With camera in hand, I snapped several pictures as though these were farewell portraits of an American icon departing for a new venture overseas. I don’t expect to see it again at Hershey.

People say there is a lot of walking at Hershey. Indeed, ’tis true. But with it comes a lot of thinking. You may choose to walk with friends and chat along the way. Or you may wander alone, your thoughts to yourself, pondering the surprises. Hershey helps a collector gain perspective, weigh options, test prices, wonder about the present, dream of the past.

Then BOOM! My thoughts suddenly changed. Sticking out from a canopy tent was the front of a 1934 Packard. My, how graceful. Plush might be a better word. The blue Packard’s graceful lines and twinkling chrome bespoke quality and high cost from a lost era.

You can’t rush discoveries. You can’t rush by them, either. Maximizing the moment is time well spent. Linger and look. Snap pictures. Talk to the owner. Listen to comments from onlookers. This is Hershey. This is why you came. The moment holds magic.

The trance broken, I meandered through vendor spaces. Rows seemed countless, the spaces appeared endless. It was a sea waiting to be navigated, filled with potential bargains rare and pieces choice.

Let no one tell you that Hershey is only filled with car parts. Not true for a moment. There are manuals, books, sales literature, old clothing and hats and music machines.
A time warp opened as music from an Edison cylinder machine, circa 1910, pointed its black-and-brass horn toward my approach. The sounds it emitted were from a bygone age of lace and frills, brass radiators, bulb horns, plus-fours and quality in early motoring. As the music progressed, my mind played pictures of Maxwells and Moons bounding along roadways, of Gatsby-type Classics silently streaming, of lawn parties framed by touring cars and roadsters.

Hershey holds discovery in many forms from old to new, from recast to new-old stock recently uncovered. 

Hershey would be incomplete were it not for woodies. One discovery centered on a 1949 De Soto, also for sale. Like bees, onlookers were attracted to the visual honey. Few would have enough bread to make the purchase, but that is no deterrent at Hershey. Lookers create interest as a little crowd forms. Commotion builds and serious buyers buzz around.

Discoveries at the show…on the swap field…in conversations…amid car parts…on racks and stacked near fenders…. They have been there in the past, and more are being readied for this year.

Dream on. And dream plenty. After all, it’s Hershey.

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