Sometimes neighbors talk across a fence. Sometimes they chat while standing in one of their driveways. Those living on a cul-de-sac might even set their lawn chairs in the street. But a group of neighbors in Portage, Michigan, has another way to getting together. Each year they drive their collector cars to the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, where they park and sit together for the National Street Rod Association’s 38th Nationals North meet.
This year as many as half a dozen cars from the same neighborhood were parked together with their owners on lawn chairs for the show that annually attracts around 2,500 modified vehicles, their owners, a variety of vendors and a few thousand spectators.
Among those neighbors who gathered at the Nationals North this past weekend were Ted and Diana Duckett, and their 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air.
Ted Duckett has been attending car shows for a decade, he said, admitting that at first he was dragged along by his best friend and neighbor, John. The Ducketts bought their own car four years ago.
What took so long? Well, for one thing, they were following the football careers of their sons, Tico and T.J.
Ted Duckett played football at Western Michigan University. His sons both played at Michigan State, and then in the National Football League. Tico was MSU’s all-time leading rusher and then played for the Washington Redskins. T.J. also ran the ball for the Spartans, and then had a seven-year NFL career, most of it with the Atlanta Falcons. The brothers also have had successful post-football business careers.
Meanwhile, their parents have time to enjoy their vintage vehicle, aka the Blue Lady, and as Ted put it, “you meet great people” at car shows.
Although Ted’s best friend and collector car mentor, John, died two years ago, John’s daughter, Holly, continues to show John’s 1938 Chevrolet.
The Portage neighbors weren’t the only group of friends parked together at the show. Car clubs from Chicago to Canada also staked out their areas on the pavement and the grassy fields on the Expo Center and Fairgrounds.
Based in Memphis, Tennessee, the National Street Rod Association was founded in 1970 and currently has 50,000 members. It concludes its 2017 show schedule September 15-17 at the Northeast Nationals in Burlington, Vermont.