It seems like yesterday when my husband Dale invited me to go with him to see the old cars go through Manannah (Meeker County) in 1987. The second year we brought my Grandma Iverson and Marv Otto with us back to Manannah and then into Litchfield, where Sidney Strong was sitting in his 1915 Pierce Arrow in Fenton’s car lot. His car was too new!
In his youth, Marv started working at the Strong Gas Station in New London. He used to pump gas for my Grandpa and Grandma Iverson when they lived in New London also. The Ottos and Iversons later lived in Atwater at the same time too. If you are from the Atwater area, you know that Marv worked for Sidney many years and later became a partner with others at the Ford Garage in Atwater. The Antique Car Parade also goes by the former Strong Gas Station each year in New London.
After the second year of going to Manannah we found out there was a parade in New London the night before the 120 mile car run to New Brighton. Of course we started going to see the parade. We have always stopped at the New London Legion parking lot to see the display of cars. The past three years we have been able to follow the cars all the way to New Brighton. However, we take the main roads for safety reasons, rather than the roads the Antique Cars travel on.
This year was extra special, not only because it was the 25th Car Run. But on Tuesday, August 9, about 25 cars came to Atwater as part of the Pre-Tour. I rode my bike down to see the cars with my camera. As I turned the corner by Sidney and Katherine Strong’s old house, I couldn’t help think to myself how happy Sidney would have been to see all the old cars sitting in the Atwater Clinic parking lot. If you look at my photos in Flickr, you will see in the background what once was the Strong House, the Strong Motor Company Garage and Strong’s Storage Shed for Antique Cars. David Strong’s 1977 Ford Thunderbird is also there.
Sidney Strong’s son David attended the driver’s meeting at the ArtMeyerson Building (Former Strong Garage) and gave an Atwater Automobile History Lesson that day. He talked about how his Grandfather James H. Strong (at age 25) established the Pioneer Livery in 1878. In 1905, his salesman wanted cars, so he licensed Cadillac, Glide and Halliday.
The first section of the garage was built in 1908, which is now the ArtMeyerson Building. Also in 1908, James H. Strong became a licensed Overland and Studebaker dealer and became an exclusive Ford Dealer in 1909, as Strong Motor Company. There is more history, but I will stop here, because David Strong gave me his notes and they are now in a folder at the Atwater Historical Society if you would like to read more.
My husband Dale worked in the old Strong Motor Company building washing cars. Dale also took part in the move in 1975 to the building on Hwy 12. That’s when the name was changed to Atwater Ford. After college and a few other jobs, Dale has sold cars at Atwater Ford for 25 plus years. I think it’s cool that my husband is part of the Atwater Automobile History.
The rest of the week was awesome as more and more cars started showing up in Spicer on Thursday, New London on Friday and then Saturday morning we went over to Grove City to see the cars come into the Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot.
Saturday afternoon we watched the Antique Cars arrive at the Buffalo school. Finally, New Brighton where the cars drove over the Finish Line at Long Lake Regional Park. Of course both Mayors of New London and New Brighton welcomed the cars at the Finish Line.
I would like to thank a few special people (you know who your are) for making this Silver Anniversary Antique Car Run a very memorable time for Dale and me.
Please enjoy the video and photos of the 2011 New London to New Brighton Car Run that Dale and I had fun filming.