It was like stepping back a century last Tuesday when 20 vintage automobiles, dating from 1915 and earlier, showed up on Hawley's streets. They were also spotted this week in Honesdale, Milford and other points, as a surprised modern-day generation watched and paused with their cell phone cameras.
Their owners belong to Snappers Brass & Gas, a vintage auto club for vehicles from this early era of horseless carriages. Owners heralded from Michigan to Massachusetts with at least one from as near as Greentown, Pa.
Members sign up for tours, gathering together in some part of the U.S. or Canada, meeting fellow vintage car aficionados and showing off their marvelous machines in small towns along the way. The club was founded in 1993 in Ohio.
Basic tenets of the club is the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of Brass Era automobiles.
They all seem to love the attention. Passerby looked over the cars, asked questions and went for the camera.
Stopping for lunch at various downtown Hawley eateries, the cars were spotted parked on Main Avenue, Church, Keystone and River Streets, and Penn Avenue. Often set in front of a house or commercial building as old or older than the car, it was not hard to imagine everyday Hawley scenes 100 years back. There were so many of them- sometimes two or three in a row driving past others that were parked. They also gathered at the Antique Exchange.
Among the amazing sights was a Stanley Steamer, parked not far from AMSkier's offices. The car made a distinct sound, something like a tea kettle reaching a boil. The man at the wheel then put it in gear, and the car putted down Main Avenue, billowing steam coming from underneath the chassis. Stanley Steamers were built between 1902 and 1924.
Some cars interestingly had the steering wheel on the right side as if from merry old England.
A few head lamps were seen without bulbs. They still were set up to shine by gas light.
Ben Nguyen, who came up from Philadelphia on vacation, happened to be passing through on the way to Lake Wallenpaupack when he saw the cars at the Antique Exchange. He had to stop. His 5-1/ 2 year old son Alex appeared thrilled as well, especially in getting to sit at a steering wheel of a 1915 Ford T, with permission of a family member of the owner.
Geoffrey Warburton off Teaticket, Cape Cod, MA, was there with his 1913 Cadillac.
In sparkling condition, he said this car wasn't always in such shape. "I have had this car 35 years It should've gone to the dump," he said.
The car once was owned by Barney Pollard, a collector in Michigan, who had over 1,200 cars. Some were stacked in a barn, vertically against posts. He said this car was standing upright, with another car affixed to the post above it. Warburton bought it from a friend and did extensive restoration. The vehicle had "totally rotted out."
Page 2 of 2 - This model, which he painted white, has both a bulb born on one side an an electric one on the other. There is also an air pump on the motor that inflates the tires.
Jerry "Ted" Beele and his son Jerry, from Clinton Township, Michigan, were standing by Ted's "Tin Lizzie," a 1911 Ford T, on Main near Fluff's Deli.
Their blue beauty, like others, had natural air conditioning. There was no side glass. Curtains are available. They can be cold in the winter, said his son Jerry. But so was the horse and buggy. These cars were part of a transition, a revolution in transportation. People then who took to cars welcomed the improvements and didn't know the upgrades yet to come.
Ted said said as a owner he has to do the work on it himself. Parts are hard to come by; its easier with a Ford. This car was in good condition when he bought it about 14-15 years ago, though Ted had to totally rebuild the engine and transmission.
They try and stay on secondary roads. "We're a menace on the highway," he said.
"We can cook along at 45 miles per hour."
Keeping to the back roads is also safer. "The quieter the road the better," he said. They brought it from Michigan to the tour in a trailer.
This one has an electric starter but can be started by crank. The car was 22 horsepower but now reaches 26-28 h.p.
These Brass Era cars are grandfathered, Ted said; they don't have to come up to modern standards and his, like the rest, doesn't even have seat belts.
He did add turning signals. Its tough these days to just put your hand out when you want to turn a corner.
"They think you're waving," he said.
For more information online on the club, visit www.snappers.us.