If you are reading this Blog, you are obviously a Car Guy or Gal.
In 2003 I was transferred to the Pacific Northwest and made my home in Gig Harbor, Washington. We live in a beautiful community and like anyone who transplants here that first week of June you find yourself downtown at the Maritime Gig Parade. That was my introduction to the Gig Harbor Cruisers with club member Roger Mossiman walking behind the cars dragging a toilet bowl float down the street representing the parade's "oldest float." The Cruisers have participated in the Maritime Gig for as long as I can remember to promote their upcoming car show.
I was born into a car family; my father like many of our family members grew up working on their cars to keep them going and also helped my uncle's in their body shop. It is easy to forget how much work there is in owning a car then; even just the commuter car back in the day. Today computers have made cars super efficient, but are designed kind of boring and many can run without maintenance for 100,000 miles.
It's the cars that we love we are sometimes frustrated by. Many a day and night of my youth was spent on the frozen Philadelphia streets trying to keep mine or my friend's cars going. No way in hell we were taking the bus, or a train if we could avoid it.
On every trip as a child, my father and I would challenge each other to name the approaching car and even at night by the headlights. By the time I got my license, I was extremely proficient at spotting a Crown Victoria, or Chevrolet Impala, and many more. Every trip to the store with my mother I would disappear to the toy section; while I loved baseball and all forms of racing, she would always find me deeply immersed in the Hot Wheel section. My mother would say don't you have them all? Don't you have enough? And now at nearly 50, my beautiful wife Shelly says "don't you have enough..." Simply, No!
My mother was my hero, and I treasure the memories of driving in her Pontiac LeMans as a kid. By the time she passed in 1982, I’d estimate she had wasted thousands of dollars she didn't have on Match Box cars for me. When I packed my things and left Philly in 1985 I never would have imagined my brother would have tossed all those cars; a 55-gallon drum of them, now worth God knows what, but he wasn’t a real car guy.
I’m a GM guy although I’ve owned a few Mustangs over the years. I’ve been part of Corvette and Camaro clubs for decades now, and all of them pale in comparison to the Gig Harbor Cruisers. Why? Simply, the people and the Cruisers approach to a car club. Twenty years ago the Cruisers started out as friends with a common interest; Cool Cars and wanting to make a difference in their communities which they lived and worked. They were friends that bumped into each other at shows around the area and joked about “We are the Gig Harbor Car Club.”
Twenty years later I think all of them would be surprised and should be darn proud of what a tremendous positive impact they made in our community. In the last Twenty years the Cruisers through their efforts and the vision of Founding Members: Pat & Renée Crist, Mike & Sue Campbell, Dan Lehosky, Sr., Tim & Jorjia Potter, Tom & Laurie Smith and Charter Members Bruce & Linda Dishman, John & Barbara Gilchrist, Mitch & Kim Mackenroth, Monnie (and Milo) Moen, Harvey & Sharon Oslin, Dave & Janet Robertson, Dale & Lyn Schultz, John & Karen Streich have raised and donated nearly 75,000-dollars for scholarships to help young adults who wanted to pursue an automotive related education. Having four children of my own and having sat through local scholarship awards ceremonies I can tell you some of our winners wouldn’t have been on that stage if not for the vision of our founding members. It was about the people first and cool cars second. One of our first winners, now in his 30’s and the father of two children has a successful career at the Ship Yard as a welder because the people mentioned above cared as much about people as they did cool cars.
I didn’t join the Cruisers till 2005 after I quit my job. I was searching for a better work-life balance and quickly became involved as Newsletter Editor, eventually served the club as President and Activities coordinator. While I love Corvettes, if you seen one…. you’ve seen, well, most of them. I can bore you to death with numbers matching; rarity, correctness, but because of the Cruisers my eyes have been opened to many other wonderful and sometimes orphaned cars because they are all welcomed in our club, and you'd be surprised how many Gig Harbor garages are housing some rare and unique vehicles.
Many of my fondest memories in life involve cars and nearly all my memories of the last 14 years in Gig Harbor involve the great friends I met because I choose to become a Gig Harbor Cruiser. ~John