The Counts of the Cobblestone hosted the club’s 50th Anniversary and Reunion at the Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City on October 13th. As Pogo said, when the 13th falls on a Saturday, that’s twice as bad…but except for a little bit of rain everything went extremely well.
The Ramkota was extremely generous and provided us a meeting room beginning Friday night for no additional charge. The hotel even came up with a rolling coat rack for us to display the various shirts that were on sale…the pesky Lions Club was having their regional convention and tried to take it over…but a few philosophical words from our own poet laureate “Sick” Dick Hoeye and they went back to their lair.
Always prepared and ahead of the game, Shakey Jack Venable showed up with some of his awesome custom vinyl lettering for the stage prop SD State Trooper door. There was some extremely nice paint work by Bob Myers on the door, along with fascinating engineering to mount the seat and make the whole thing roll. I was surprised to know that the HP had been driving El Caminos back then, but I don’t think Joel (Joe) Pine minded at all.
The early registration was a great opportunity to have a few old club mementos on display and enjoy relaxing conversation with the guests that were already in the hotel. Guest speakers Dale Sump and Roger Jetter, (along with is brother Dan), stopped by and we saw other old friends like Tom Donahue, Sonny Dump, and others.
The special 50th Anniversary key fobs had finally made it through customs, Nebraska, and Jim’s house. Thanks to Steve Kroger and West River Masonry the production of these was possible. These came out awesome (see the image), and there are still a few of these limited issue key chains available for $5.00 each…drop us a note and some cash if you want one.
The hotel had provided some pitchers of water, but there must have been something wrong with it. Eventually a few members drank the bar out of the “something black” beer and the fishbowls of merlot wine stopped flowing. By 8:00 it looked like we were well on track to having to up the guest count to the banquet from the 150 we had pre-registered.
I went home that night with more than a few thoughts on my mind….what does it take to make all this happen? With the help of many it all came together and the credit belongs to not only our members but also the sponsors and the community. Here are just a few of the things that were on the list: Pre-reg applications, mailing list updates, Car Show/Rod Run attendee applications, local advertising, local press releases, national press releases, guest speaker confirmations, prop preparation, room reservations, table decorations, podium speakers, lunch arrangements, lunch set up and tear down, burger cooking, beverages, pickle buying, lettuce tearing, bus arrangements, tour locations, artwork, signs, banners, display materials and set up, sign in sheets, bus route planning and schedule printing, bus route time checking, banquet selection, key chain design and ordering, advertising design, program preparation, corsages for the ladies, award preparation, car show set up, script planning, images for multi-media presentation, CD preparation, book signing table, and cash for change…plus a multitude of other things that escape me now.
I left the non-descript white van up at the hotel and caught a ride home with my wife. The next morning dawned way too soon…how did it get to be October 13th so fast? I took the truck to my shop and picked up my car. The rain was threatening and I was a little concerned about an open air car show, but what the hell, most of these old cars have been out in the rain at least once in the last 50 years…
Scheduled for the next morning was the shop tour. Morning registration became rather frenzied as the 10:00 bus rollout neared. We took late registrations, sold shirts, and explained the day’s events to a whole bunch of fellow rodders. The Lions complained that our boisterous behavior was ruining their business meeting. We didn't care, we just adjourned to the parking lot and did some burnouts. The rain was light and parking area that the Ramkota had roped off for us was beginning to fill up. Brightly colored cars look awesome in the rain…and today was going to be one of those rainy days.
We had two buses going in opposite directions, and what we got to see was superb. In addition, the museums set out refreshments for us that were totally unexpected and very much appreciated. Jerry Geske was heard to exclaim, “Oh man! Homemade brownies and cookies!” when he entered Motion Unlimited. Apparently Jonel doesn’t bake much…eventually Jerry moved away from the grazing table and realized that there were some really cool cars and bikes there too.
The club really appreciates the doors that were opened to us by:
A&A Museum, Don Gorman and sons
A&A Auto Restoration, Gene and Carla Jobgen
Motion Unlimited, Bill and Peggy Napoli
There are some fine collections and talented people in the area. If missed this event you need to take the time to get to know these individuals and see what they’ve accomplished.
Halfway through the tour the buses went to Steve Kroger’s tornado proof toy box and had a very enjoyable lunch. The old King of Burgers himself, Erv Vogel, arranged for the Whopper mobile to provide us the main course for lunch. The food preparation and cleanup was accomplished by a team of members and was another great time to enjoy each other’s company. Besides that, I can know justify building the garage I want by always saying, “But it is not as nice as Steve’s, honey!”
An interesting story I heard along the way was how Dell Johnson lost a car. Apparently the club was late in paying their rent so the landlord took out a lien on the hot rod stored therein. Dell still had his Cadillac powered pickup, but the car was long gone.
The ladies associated with the club thought that maybe 5 hours on the school bus was enough, so they scheduled a Ladies' Tea back at the hotel for 3:00 p.m. Val “not a NSRA official” Sump assisted club member’s wives in pulling this together. Once again, the Ramkota accommodated us with a nice room and we had door prizes provided by Jolly Lane “The Sime's” Greenhouse and Golden West Technologies. A lot of others made this happen also, but I was still on the bus so really don’t know what they were up to. The rumor of Chippendale's dancers is apparently NOT true.
Speaking of being on the bus, our driver’s were timely, efficient, and smooth. We really appreciate their skill and the buses being made available to us by Tri-State Transport of Belle Fourche. This was just one of many things that Dan Duncan was instrumental in making happen.
By the time we got back to the hotel, it was obvious that the members and guest were ready to celebrate. The parking lot was filling up…we ended up with about 40 gorgeous cars out in the rain. The Pennington County Sheriff even took time to bring down the car that we restored and donated to them. Inside, the bartender was getting busy and the club member wives were getting corsages. Some guys viewed this corsage thing as a do-it-yourself kind of project, but Bob Rohrbach was more than happy to make sure the flowers were properly attached to the appropriate chests.
Speaking of Bob “I’m not talented and don’t know what to do” Rohrbach…how can we say thank you enough for the welded up table décor? His actions turned the banquet around from an expense to a better-than-break-even and all-the-shirts-are-paid-for kind of deal. With help from local businesses like Quality Transmission and Johnson Machine, we were all amazed at his work. If you weren’t there to see it, he transcended the rocker arm bird and made detailed motorcycles, tractors, dragsters, emblems, etc. all out of discarded parts. Bearings and welded up chain were used a lot, and almost all of the creations either spun around or rolled…or maybe had a functional blower drive. In any case, we expect him to quit his day job and open up an E-bay store.
There were plenty of things to do during the social hour. Our scruffy guest speaker/author Roger Jetter was all cleaned up and had his table set up. He was signing copies of his books, Fast Cars, 4-Speeds, & Fist-Fights and Bangin’ Gears and Bustin’ Heads. Roger was attending Black Hills Rod Runs way back in 1979, and managed to wrangle the coveted #1 Rod Run registration back in the days when he drove a custom Stude’. This was about the same time that he formed the Colorado UnClub. Roger has a storied past, and shares this in his various writings including on-going contributions to the GoodGuy’s Gazette. His brother, Dan, also was there and the two of them were certainly a pleasure to get to know. Hope we see them more often in the future, and get a chance to see some of their for-some-reason-green cars.
Jim Neuzil brought in his collection of club jackets, and we stole a coat rack from the Lions Convention room to display them. We also dug up some very old hand painted signs, probably made by Tricky Dick Neuzil back in the day.
As soon as 5:00 hit the computerized slide show started, this was about a 50 minute presentation that combined music along with pictures and images from the clubs history. Ben P.R. Roose had made his albums available, and a lot current and past members dug deep to provide photos and printed materials for this. Special thanks to Zach Kreun and Paul Kreun for putting this all together and making sure it would work. We should have copies of this available for purchase soon.
The Skip-n-Bob show (Skip Abell and Bob Myers) of dueling podiums started promptly at 6:00. Dinner service started at 6:15. We had a two meat buffet and the food preparation was excellent. Once again, the Ramkota and Minerva’s restaurant delivered 100%.
After dinner our two emcees outlined the evening’s activities and introduced our first speaker, Roger Jetter. Roger professed to not be a public speaker…but he lies. His journey as a car guy, illustrator, and now an author sounded like quite a trip.
Next up we had Dale Sump in his capacity as regional National Street Rod Association Representative. Dale has been to Count’s activities in the past and he shared some history and his views on the tenacity that it takes to keep an organization going strong. Dale also mentioned the legislative process and the importance of keeping aware of current and pending restrictions on our cars. Sharing his feelings about politicians in general, he and attending State Representative Bill Napoli did some verbal bonding over the laughter and applause of the audience. In closing, Dale presented an NSRA safety award to the club.
Hot on his heels, and never one to lose a pursuit, was legendary South Dakota State Trooper (retired) Joel Pine. Joe did not want to speak to us very badly, and stated that he was only comfortable talking out the window of his Interceptor. Bob Myers had built a special black-n-white door with bucket seat mounted behind it. The prop was unveiled and Joe looked right at home as he assumed his seat. Skip and Bob took turns asking Joe some questions about his days with the Highway Patrol, and though he was rather evasive about some answers, this is what we determined. (Some of these stories were not as public as others.)
- Skip did have a car load of drunks, a “get that piece of crap off my highway” Chevy with bald tires, and received a free ride to Ellsworth AFB.
- Joe never lost the perpetrator’s car in a high speed pursuit…even though it took until the next morning once to get the man.
- Ice from springtime thaws freezes overnight in the northbound lanes of Highway 16. The mother of a sick child is faster in these treacherous conditions then the fastest State Trooper. (Why were you sideways and so slow, Joe?)
- The engines in Joe’s cars did have a “cool tune”, they ran a little better just because of some unmentionable tweaks.
- Local guys would always try to get his retired patrol cars at auctions and pull the engines. The 440 in a ‘Cuda that I remember was scary fast.
- When pursuing drag racers with 4.56 gears you just run ‘em down at 115+ ‘til the first one loses his bottom end and then stick with the second one until he blows too.
- Most of the Counts have enjoyed the privilege of a visit in Joe’s office.
Our Board of Directors had a few presentations to make. Paul Kreun and Larry Johnson took car of presentations to both Kurt Deisinger and Skip Abell. Their commitment to the club over the years in various capacities earned them both lifetime memberships. Most notably, Skip has been the driving force to keeping the newsletter current. Kurt is our chief cook and “Mound of Sound” every year at the car show. By no means are these the only things that these guys have done for the Counts. This is a rare honor and has only been awarded once in the past.
An additional achievement award was presented to Jim Neuzil. Ridco Jewelers helped us out, and Jim was awarded a gold watch for his 49 years of active membership. Jim was there during the outlaw days, the SD Safety Inspection fiasco period, the building of Charlie Brown, the Rapid City Auditorium shows (and Car Show Queens), the NSRA affiliation choice, the beer period, the “our clubhouse is the benches in back of Brady’s pickup” arrangement, and countless dances, shows, runs, races, and meetings. If you look at old newsletters and photos, you will see that the one constant and driving force in the club has been Jim Neuzil. He was duly recognized.
Paul Kreun, our outgoing President, briefly discussed our future vision. Land has been purchased in Blackhawk, and plans are proceeding for the construction of a new clubhouse and outdoor activity area.
As we closed in on the end of the program it was time to auction off the “welded up parts turned awesome” table decorations. This became a very spirited event, and a few members were shocked (especially Bob Rohrbach, the artist himself) when the items started to sell. Our auctioneer extraordinaire Skip only made the mistake of starting out at $5 one time…the bidding was fast and furious.
That table in the front with all the pretty blonde ladies seemed to be having a problem having their bids recognized. They quickly organized a standing “We’ll spend more money” choir and I don’t think Skip overlooked them again, (thanks Lynnette and Carla). There was some hot action from our out of town guests as well. Pieces went to Colorado, Kansas, Pierre, Mitchell, Hot Springs, and who knows where else. The commemorative “Earnhardt 3/Chevy Emblem” brought really big bucks, and rumor has it that the winner turned around and gave it as a gift to the guy he was bidding against. Another great story.
All in all, the auction helped the event to pay for itself and add a few hundred bucks into the building fund.
In wrapping it all up Bob Myers invited all current and past Counts to sign the State Trooper door, and it will be displayed along with photos of the 50th Anniversary Celebration when the new clubhouse is built.
The crowd lingered long after the program was complete, so it is apparent that many friendships were made or re-kindled. Please remember these sponsors and businesses that made the event possible:
A & A Auto Restoration (Gene Jobgen)
A & A Auto Salvage and Museum (Donald Gorman)
Motion Unlimited (Bill and Peggy Napoli)
West River Masonry (Steve Kroger)
Burger King (Erv Vogel)
Golden West Technologies
Tri-State Transportation (buses)
National Street Rod Association
Best Western Ramkota Convention Center and Minerva’s
ABC Signs (Shakey Jack Venable)
Jolly Lane Greenhouse (Tim and Todd Sime)