Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How I learned to appreciate car shows, Part I May 31, 2018

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A TIME EXISTED WHEN I WANTED nothing to do with a car show. “Go and look at old cars?” I scoffed. “Nope, not interested.”

 

 

 

 

But then I accompanied Randy to a show once and discovered that these were more than just old cars lined up for display. These vehicles represent love, devotion, passion, pride, art, memories, stories. And, yes, a form of transportation, although really that seems secondary.

 

 

What changed my mind about car shows like the recent Drag-On’s Car Club Show in Faribault? Photography. My view of an event is often shaped through the lens of my Canon DSLR. Through photography, I notice details and strive to tell a story with my images.

 

 

I am often drawn to the unusual. A plastic Jesus on the dashboard.

 

 

A plastic rat atop a rat rod.

 

 

Elvis crooning in a car.

 

 

A shiny bumper,

 

 

a unique color,

 

 

an emblem or hood ornament,

 

 

tail fins,

 

even rust draws my interest.

 

 

 

Art more than automotive focuses my attention.

 

 

 

 

I love, also, to people-watch. While I couldn’t sit for hours in a lawn chair next to a car at a car show, many do. Entire families embrace these events.

 

 

I observe genuine enthusiasm for motors, the rev of an engine, the careful restoration of a vintage vehicle.

 

 

Trophies aplenty are handed out at these shows. How do you even begin to judge the hundreds of vehicles? It seems a subjective process to me. I’d look at the artsy side with no interest in what’s under the hood. Randy, an automotive machinist who has worked on plenty of vintage vehicles, would, however, peer at engines and restoration details.

 

 

 

 

Despite our differing perspectives, Randy and I each enjoy car shows. Who would have thought I’d come full circle on this? Not me.

 

Please check back for more photos from the Faribo Drag-On’s annual show.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Exploring Woody’s in West Concord, a specialty auto lit shop September 10, 2015

Woody's Auto Literature and More in West Concord, Minnesota.

Woody’s Auto Literature and More in West Concord, Minnesota.

FOR ANYONE WHO APPRECIATES anything vintage auto-related, Woody’s Auto Literature and More in West Concord is a must stop-and-see.

Dave "Woody" Woodward

Dave “Woody” Woodward

You can’t miss this unique shop in the heart of downtown at 150 Main Street. The front of a vintage orange pick-up truck, a nesting home for birds, protrudes from the storefront under the name Woodys. And if Dave “Woody” Woodward happens to be in the shop, his van will likely be parked out front and he’ll have music blasting from exterior building speakers.

Lots of merchandise is packed into this small store.

Lots of merchandise is packed into this small store which features lovely original wood floors and a partially original tin ceiling.

Inside, a treasure trove awaits those who are gearheads or collectors or who are restoring vintage vehicles or simply have an interest in auto-related stuff.

Vintage art.

Vintage art.

Graphics suspended from the ceiling caught my eye.

Graphics suspended from the ceiling caught my eye.

I love this sweet mini calendar from a service station.

I love this sweet mini calendar for the art aspect.

For others, like me, the interest may be more visual arts-oriented.

Well-worn manuals...

Well-worn manuals…

I see art in these colorful manuals.

I see art in these colorful manuals.

There are shelves and shelves and shelves of manuals.

There are shelves and shelves and shelves of manuals.

Woody specializes in shop manuals, which cram shelves along narrow aisles. He’s been selling shop manuals, mostly to customers restoring cars, since 1998. His interest in the factory original guidebooks stretches back to the 1980s and his days in the Navy when he managed shop manuals. His vocational education is in auto parts, accessories and merchandising and his previous work experience as an auto mechanic. The guy knows autos.

A Blazer emblem.

A Blazer emblem.

Look at this vintage catalog page.

Look at this vintage catalog page.

Woody has a box full of key chains from a now closed dealer.

Woody has a box full of key chains from a now closed dealer.

The kid in you can purchase a toy model kit.

The kid in you can purchase a toy model kit.

From sales brochures to owner’s manuals (which Woody terms “glovebox books”), wiring diagrams, signage, toy model cars, key chains, emblems and way way more, a wide variety of merchandise packs this store. And the subject isn’t limited to cars—items related to tractors, outboard motors, small engines and more are among his offerings.

A sign posted in Woody's shop.

A sign posted in Woody’s shop.

Woody also takes his goods on the road, traveling to shows in places like Iowa, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. It’s the reason you may not find him in the shop, even during advertised hours. Best call ahead before driving any distance to check out this truly fascinating business that interested even me, a non-gearhead. The husband, an automotive machinist, felt right at home perusing the merchandise and talking shop with Woody.

Woody's isn't necessarily open during the hours advertised on his business door.

Woody’s isn’t necessarily open during the hours advertised on the front door.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Miscellaneous merchandise.

Miscellaneous merchandise.

My husband thumbs through auto literature.

My husband thumbs through Sun Company specification cards.

The Lone Ranger themed ad on the right is vintage original.

The Lone Ranger themed ad on the right is vintage original.

He even has some parts for sale, like these

He even has some parts for sale, like these manifolds.  Woody carries vintage ignition parts and carb kits.

Woody pulled these autographed photos from his bulletin board. That's former President and Mrs. Bush and, to the left, Mr. Ed. Both were found tucked inside manuals he purchased.

Woody pulled these autographed photos from his bulletin board. That’s former President and Mrs. Bush and, to the left, Mr. Ed. Both pictures were found tucked inside manuals he purchased. He didn’t show me some of the photos he’s found which could not be published on this blog.

If you're a Standard Oil collector or need lights...

If you want a Standard Oil shelf or spotlights…

More miscellaneous goods.

More miscellaneous goods.

FYI: You can also shop at Woody’s online. Click here.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Oh, the vehicles that pull up to the gas pumps July 2, 2013

A 1969 Mini Moke

A 1969 Mini Moke

EVEN MY HUSBAND, an automotive machinist of more than 30 years, had never seen a Mini Moke. And he knows dates and years and makes and models and what’s under the hood and what problems are common with certain vehicles like I understand adjectives and adverbs and all the components of the English language.

The low-riding Mini Moke isn't exactly an open road vehicle.

The low-riding Mini Moke isn’t exactly an open road vehicle.

Thus, given his absence of Moke knowledge, Randy was just as intrigued as me by the mini British utility vehicle that pulled up to the gas pumps at a Faribault convenience store on a recent weekday evening.

I happened to have my camera with me, as I happen to have most of the time. And, after seeking permission from Faribault resident Greg Youngdahl, I photographed his 1969 Mini Moke, which he’s owned some 10 -15 years.

The race car photo on the front is of Robert Youngdahl. The rope? It's always been there.

The race car photo on the front is of Robert Youngdahl. The rope? It’s always been there.

The jeep-like vehicle originally belonged to his father, Robert Youngdahl, who died several years ago and who used the Moke as a pit vehicle when racing his vintage race cars in Brainerd. The younger Youngdahl also races at Brainerd International Raceway and competes with his Miata. He often hauls the Moke north and laps around the track.

Rear view.

Rear view.

But, mostly, he drives the jeep around town—to pick up gas for the lawnmower, as he was on this Thursday evening, or to visit a neighbor.

Youngdahl plans to keep his father's Moke 'as is."

Youngdahl plans to keep his father’s Moke “as is.”

As a tribute to his dad, Youngdahl’s keeping the Moke original, with no plans to restore it like the other two Mokes he owns.

This photo really emphasizes the smallness of the Mini Moke.

This photo really emphasizes the smallness of the Mini Moke.

And as an aside, if his Mini Moke seems vaguely familiar, perhaps you remember seeing a Moke on the 1978-1984 television series Fantasy Island. Actor Herve Villechaize, who was just under four feet tall and played the role of Tattoo (of “De plane! De plane! “fame), drove a Mini Moke.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Because I like showing you details...

Because I like showing you details…

These words, the title of a book by Bert Levee, are imprinted below the windshield.

These words, the title of a book by Burt S. Levy, are imprinted below the windshield. The book focuses on one year in the life of racers on the open road race car circuit.

A 1999 Faribault Heritage Days car show trophy awarded

A 1999 Faribault Heritage Days Car Show third place trophy awarded to the Youngdahls’ Moke in the Foreign & Special Interest class. The trophy was stashed in the back of the Moke and dug out for this photo.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling