Annual traditions can be comforting.
They provide us something to look forward to. They offer stability and order in our often chaotic world.
For many years my summer has gone out with a proverbial bang with three such traditions. Two of them are automotive related, the final Downtown Bryan Cruise-In of the season and the Auburn Fall Auction in Indiana.
The third tradition is based on history, not cars. Unfortunately this one, the Jackson, Michigan, Civil War Muster, did not take place this summer.
I was disappointed but not surprised that the Jackson event was canceled. I have been hearing rumors for years that the plug might be pulled, apparently at least in part due to political correctness as the Civil War reenactment portrays Confederate as well as Union soldiers. The Muster was moved a year ago from the county’s Cascades Park, where it seemed to be unwelcome, to the city’s Ella Sharp Park.
This year the event was canceled altogether, with organizers promising a bigger and better Muster in 2020. I have heard that park construction and other issues, not ideological concerns, are to blame.
I truly hope the Muster does return, as I believe the Civil War reenactments and living history go a long way toward educating people about this momentous era.
Through the years, starting with the very early Musters in the 1980s, the Jackson reenactment has provided wonderful experiences and memories with friends and members of my extended family. Even though I miss the original — and beautiful — Cascades setting I would hate to see the Muster end.
Through the years Bryan’s Cruise-In has provided me with a relaxing chance to hang out with friends and family on Thursday evenings, since the earliest gatherings at the old L&K Restaurant on East High Street.
The Cruise-In season runs from mid-May through August, and the finale is a poignant reminder that summer is over. I am very aware that a long, dark and cold winter and wet, dreary spring lie ahead before the Cruise-In returns.
According to The Times the Cruise-In organizers consider the 2019 season a success, and I understand they already are looking ahead to 2020.
I was a teen when I attended my first Auburn Labor Day weekend antique and collector car auction back in the mid-1970s, accompanying a friend and his family. Since Dean Kruse built the Auburn Auction Park in the 1980s I have missed very few of the fall events.
It is incredibly good fortune that some of the most amazing collector vehicles in the world are brought together only 45 minutes from my home. Through the years I have seen the iconic station wagon from the National Lampoon Vacation movie, various versions of the Batmobile, and even actual custom hot rods that I built scale models of as a child.
In many cases I have seen cars and trucks that bring back wonderful memories of my youth, such as a 1954 International pickup, 1963 Ford Galaxies, a 1965 Mercury Comet and 1961 Chevrolet Impalas.
Perhaps my favorites are the restored 1959 red Chevy convertibles, some nearly identical to the one my Uncle Henry drove back in the 1960s. As I look at the classic lines of this car I’m 10 years old again, the summer Alabama wind blowing through my hair in the back seat behind Uncle Henry as the song “Little Red Riding Hood” blares from the radio.
For many years now son Joe and I have attended the auction together, at times joined by my grandson, Connor. I told Joe this year that Auburn is one of my favorite events and I look forward to it each summer, and he agreed.
The Auburn auction has had many incarnations — the Kruse Auction Park was purchased by eBay before being repurchased by Kruse. It then was purchased by Auctions America and now it’s owned by RM Sotheby’s.
While attending this year’s event I heard rumors that the park was being sold again. I was a bit concerned about how that might affect the future of the auction so when I got home I did an internet search and found news reports that a possible sale was pending. I was relieved, though, when I read that the proposed sale agreement with Fort Wayne Auto Truck Auction provided for RM to continue to use the park for its spring and fall sales.
I was very glad of that, as I believe the event is well run with a very professional staff.
As for the future of my end-of-summer events, I will just have to wait and see what happens.
They may all take place – as longtime Bryan Times editor Linda Freed used to say – “The good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”
Don Allison is an author, columnist and retired editor of The Bryan Times.