Every summertime Saturday evening around 6, the cool cars arrive. They roll off Michigan’s two-lane Route 30 and onto the grassy lot behind the Whippy Dip, an ice cream parlor that serves hot dogs, barbecue, beverages and other light fare to the local folk in the community of Sanford and to traffic off U.S. 10, a highway that runs from Saginaw Bay to Lake Michigan, connecting Midland and Bay City with the north-central section of the state’s Lower Peninsula.
Among the regulars at the weekly car show are members of the Cruisin’ Classics, a group of nearly three-dozen classic car owners who live in and around Gladwin, a three-stoplight town about 25 miles northwest of the Whippy Dip.
I met Dan Ostwick, one of the Cruisin’ Classics members, a few weeks ago when he had his 1965 AMC Rambler Ambassador 990 convertible at the Retro Roll In, the annual classic car show held in Gladwin. Dan suggested that I tag along some Saturday when the Cruisin’ club members head for the Whippy Dip, stopping on the way for a full dinner just across the parking lot at the Lake Breeze restaurant.
The dinner conversation was just as fascinating and colorful as the ensuing car show. At my end of the table, much of the conversation — at least among the men — was along the lines of, “did you know there’s a really nice Corvair behind a house out on…?,” or “there’s an old Edsel in the woods at… but you can only see it in the winter when the leaves are off the trees…,” or even, “my wife spotted seven cars for sale over in Harrison…”
Ah, the hunt for the classic car that needs more than just a little TLC to save it from rusting away, and getting it back on the road.
But the talk wasn’t only about cars. Members of the Cruisin’ Classics work the admissions gate at the county fair each summer and do other projects to raise money. But that money is not spent on their cars. Instead, they take the money they’ve raised, and then they dig into their own pockets for even more so they can go out and anonymously buy Christmas presents for local school children whose families cannot afford a visit from Santa Claus.