70 mustang 302

This is the graphic I put on Michael's shirt for the 4th Annual MCA Mustang Regional Roundup & All Ford show. We didn't really have to do the big "show" thing, 'cause Betsy doesn't care for being in the hot sun, corralled with all the shinier, prettier showhorses. However, she doesn't like other ponies running wild and free in herds without her, so she told me we were obliged to run in the cruise to Ceresco Days. Grudgingly, I relented, and little Michael decided he'd come along if I made a shirt for him to wear.

Mustang in line

This is Betsy, proudly standing in line at the Villager Courtyard hotel in Lincoln, the departure point for our cruise to Ceresco. Actually, this is the vacant lot next door, where the stragglers were lining up.

At a quick drivers' meeting, we were told that outside of town, we would pause at the side of the road to let everybody get caught up. There, a Model A club was supposed to join our group.

We ended up stopping three times, an amazingly long line of shiny old cars pulling to the side of the road, for no apparent reason. Maybe it was just to "close ranks" and tighten the formation. It was an impressive formation... and probably somewhat dangerous, all pulling back onto the highway at the same time.


At the edge of Ceresco, attendants guided us past one field full of cars, through another field full of cars, and into this baseball field... which was becoming full of cars. I hadn't realized that we would be joining a whole bunch of other Ford car clubs at this Ceresco Days shindig.

This is Michael standing near second base and looking toward all the action. The infield provided a fine dirt that later, Michael enjoyed carefully placing on my car in little handfuls.


Michael guards Betsy from anybody else who might want to put dirt on her. It was about this time that someone came by, informing everybody that we were parked in what would become the fireworks fallout zone. But since it was still daytime, and our neighbors seemed unconcerned, Michael and I began wandering around.


We ambled amidst the cars, and I took a few pictures, but frankly, they look like all my other pictures of Bunches Of Cars. I wish I'd remembered to try the Panorama feature on my camera, but you'd really need an aerial shot to get the full impact of the event. Instead, I Photoshopped this one shot, of part of one row, in one field. It's what I do.


Still photography just doesn't capture the event. Cars and people were going every which way; this white car is headed toward a parking spot, and Michael's not watching where he's walking, but since vehicles and pedestrians both were moving with equal speed and randomness, there was little concern. There were times, moving Betsy around, that I almost had to use a fender to nudge people out of the way.


But it wasn't all antique brass and vintage tin; here, a Pantera joins the fray. I was too slow with my camera to get the two red Panteras that were leading this one.


Since we hadn't eaten, Michael and I got a Polish Dog and a Coke at the local American Legion tent. Michael ate it while I talked with a few people I'd seen back at the hotel we started from. After Michael finished eating, we ambled on past these cars at the entrance. I wanted to cross the street...


...so that we could look at the John Deere contingent. This is a Model B. I only know because it said "Model B" on it. It's the closest I could find to the one I remember my grandfather having, many decades ago.


But we didn't wander around for long. We had only got there about 6:00, and we got back in the car a few minutes after 7:00, as we had someplace else to go. In this picture, Michael is trying to figure out why we were in such a hurry, just to drive around in a first gear crawl.


And then we stopped. It was neither the first nor the last time. I was amused that we had driven sustained speeds of 80 mph, and even more sustained speeds of, like, five... and pleased that after 36 years and 120,000 miles, Betsy's unrestored original engine handled it without missing a beat.


Finally, we're moving again. Kind of. I think this might be my favorite image from the day. The people in the silver-blue Mustang, right above my mirror, had big bags of Tootsie Pops. That would become important.


Now, if you come upon crowds of people with kids lining the street, and a car somewhere in front of you is throwing out candy, you get to see stuff like this.

The wife riding shotgun in the Roush in front of us had given me a purple Tootsie Pop from the silver Mustang people, to hide from Michael for later. But the candy-throwing people gave him a red one directly, and he began working to get Betsy's innards all sticky.


I told Michael to wave, but more often he was waved at. I don't know if he found being in a parade enjoyable, but he at least found it interesting. He kept himself occupied with his red sucker, watching the people wave at him.

I had the radio on, but could still hear the P.A. announcer calling out the cars as they passed-- including a "seventy Mustang fastback" which had to be us, since we were the only one around.


The kids became bolder en masse. Over the radio and noise, I could catch snatches of voices: "Look at that little boy!" "Throw more candy!" "Rev it up!" Since the black '51 behind me did, I did, too. The '51 had a cam and a lightweight flywheel. You can tell these things by the sound, if you know what you're hearing. He said Brrappp Brrappp, while Betsy said Vroooommmmmm.

Through the course of the day, I was surprised and pleased, and after a while, somewhat embarrassed at the number of compliments offered Betsy, and the number of people that seemed interested in her. But secretly, I thought she deserved the attention.

After we crawled through the parade, and the milling throngs once again, we got our spot in the ball park, and I was forced to change Michael in the back seat. He didn't enjoy it, but it was over quickly.

I began to talk to one guy at great length while Michael played in the dirt. Eventually two cops in a golf cart pulled up. The guy had been drinking a beer, and since there was No Alcohol in the park, he agreed to dump it out. After the cops zipped off, a woman came over and they began discussing the benefits of opaque plastic cups over Budweiser cans. I, meanwhile, was watching Michael carefully place dirt on my car.

After a few moments another uniform came over, a fireman this time, stringing up yellow tape. He told us we would have to move our cars out of the fireworks zone... to "just over there, the other side of this tape." So Michael, by now covered with dirt, clambered back into his booster seat, and we went through the hassle of moving Betsy over a row.

We got back out and were enjoying the afternoon, when an Event Coordinator guy came over, telling everybody we needed to move "north of that blue Bronco." So Michael climbed back in over the empty drink bottles and car show detritus again, and we had Betsy tiptoe around, searching for a new place to park. There wasn't much room, but as Betsy crawled along, various people disinterestedly guided us in random directions until there was some sort of consensus. We eventually boxed ourselves in between a silver '69 Mach 1, an old Dodge Power Wagon, and a 1930 Model A, and got out again.

I had begun to chat with some new people, when a group of Event Coordinator types came over. "Now what?" I thought irritably. The group leader challenged, "Who owns this yellow seventy?" Michael was curiously observing, so I pointed at the picture of Betsy on his shirt and said, "Well, he thinks he does." The guy just smiled and said, "Door Prize," and handed me a 1/18 scale yellow Boss 302, with a tag noting its donation by KayBee Toy Outlet in Gretna. That was a kick! I expessed great exuberance, wondrous excitement, and profuse thanks.


It was beginning to get dark, and after our last move, Betsy had become boxed in, so we were committed to staying for fireworks. I put the toy in the trunk, thinking that KayBee sounds a lot like EBay. As the sun set, Michael made a friend from a nearby family, their little girl and he chasing each other around the cars. The mom explained her daughter was "just an old mother hen". I asked if her daughter could keep it up for another half hour or so. She did.

Just after sunset, the emcee announced that the Participant's Choice award went to some guy with a '94 Mustang Cobra, who turned around and donated the $100 prize to the Ceresco Days Planning Committee for next year's event.

As the children played into the dark, the night grew breezy and cool. I just grinned to myself, amazed at how great the day had turned out. Michael had behaved wonderfully, and so had Betsy. I apologized to the couple with the 1930 Model A for having to park Betsy in their laps. But everybody turned out to be really nice and friendly, and we mostly just sat and enjoyed the evening, listing to the music from the loudspeakers.

The P.A. announcer alerted us to the fact that in about two minutes the International Space Station was coming over, and it was a special night because right now the Space Shuttle was docked to it. The crowd waited, and the park actually grew quiet as everybody watched the little dot of light slowly traverse the sky. As it got about halfway across, the announcer said, "Okay, everybody... wave!"

Shortly afterward, the fireworks started, and it was a pretty decent show, too. Michael opted to watch most of it from behind Betsy's windshield, but I didn't join him, and after a while he joined me on the grass by Betsy's grille. I had thought I might take pictures of us with the fireworks, but I'm not that good at photography. So I didn't take pictures of us, or pictures of the fireworks. We just watched them instead.


After the show, the lights came up. In this picture you can see the baseball field, where we had first parked at second base. Even though we'd moved well out of the "fireworks zone", a pleasant breeze from the south caused quite a few pieces of shrapnel to land on Betsy. Other people might be annoyed by that, but I considered it a Badge Of Adventure.


I experimented with settings on my camera, as Michael helped the couple behind us get packed up. They squeezed their way out, but since things were kind of congested with everybody leaving, Michael and I went in search of a drink for the road. Unfortunately, by then all the tents and booths were closed.


One last photo as, unsuccessful in our quest for a drink, we headed back to the car. With sudden dismay, I noted that my right front parking light didn't work. Put it on the "fix" list... but wait! I was inspired. I found a spent firework casing on the ground and used it to wedge the light housing into a position where it was grounded against the bumper again. Problem solved.

The trip home was just a smooth nighttime drive for an hour on the Interstate, Michael and I riding in silence most of the way, cool wind blasting us through the open windows. My firework repair held, and we finally pulled up to the house about half past midnight. I decided to leave Betsy out in the driveway; I'd fix that parking light and clean her up a little in the morning. Of course, when I woke up the next morning, for the first time in a month, it was raining.