Nostalgia and patriotism mixed at the Santa Clara American Legion Post 419 car show June 11, which registered 55 iconic American and European cars. The annual show is the post’s biggest fund raiser every year, raising $6,000 in 2015 to support veterans’ services.
Santa Claran Tim Thompson showed off three cars. His wife Dawn’s olive green, Firebird convertible was parked next to his son Adam’s restored 1948 CJ2A Jeep, which had originally belonged to Adam’s great-grandfather in Glenrock, Wyoming.
Thompson’s dream car is his 1957 Corvette, painted its original Aztec copper and shoreline beige. He spent 20 years accumulating parts for it and seven and a half years putting them together.
“It’s a dream. You have to have a passion for these cars. They’re nothing but art,” says Thompson.
San Jose resident Hans Kiel, an Air Force veteran, shared a scrapbook showing how he had restored his ruby red, 1939 Jaguar SS100.
“All these cars today are from days gone by when you could tell one make from another. Today, they all look like jellybeans. They all look the same,” says Kiel, whose first car was a 1948 Oldsmobile.
San Jose resident Scott McKnight and his son Brayton arrived in a black and white, 1970 Chevelle. McKnight grew up working on cars with his dad, a Marine in the Korean War.
“As a kid, I couldn’t wait until I had a car. I cut out pictures of hotrods and taped them to my closet door,” says McKnight. He drove his dad’s 1958 Chevy pick-up to high school until he could afford to buy a 1970 Malibu for $250 from a girl who wanted the money for clothes.
“I worked at a gas station, went to high school and worked on my car. That was my life,” says McKnight. “Nothing much has changed. Now, I go to work and come home and work on my car!”
John and Ruth Ransom’s 1964 Super Sport Chevy Impala was in the garage being fixed.
“We date back to ‘American Graffiti,'” says John, who loves “the roar of a big engine.”
“Cars brought us together. We met cruising in San Jose–’dragging the main.'” The Los Gatos couple has been married 52 years.
“This is a wonderful event. The proceeds go to the vets, which is always a great thing,” says Ruth.
The 2015 show proceeds–from car registration fees, lunch sales and silent auction sales–supported three veterans’ programs. Operation: Care and Comfort (www.occ-usa.org) provides care packages for troops. The Honor Flight Bay Area Foundation (www.honorflightbayarea.org) flies WWII veterans–and their wheelchairs–to Washington, D.C., to view the WWII memorial.
Post 419’s own Veterans’ Assistance and Rehabilitation Fund helps local veterans. Recently, it helped a veteran who sleeps in his motor home to get his home on wheels running again after its engine broke down.
“A lot of vets can’t help themselves, so we reach out,” says Post 419 Commander Rick Gundo, a Vietnam War Navy veteran. He points out that there is an AL officer to help vets with benefits, such as housing, medical and education.
“We need young veterans to step up, to come in and sit down and talk to fellow veterans,” says Gundo. “You can’t talk to other people like you can to a veteran.”
“And we need to bring in the younger generation to let us know what they need and want. We need fresh eyes and minds to step up and keep the organization moving forward.”
The American Legion is a nonprofit organization of veterans helping veterans and the community. Its family includes men and women Legionnaires who have served in the military during war-time campaigns, sons of Legionnaires, women in the Auxiliary and Legion Riders.
Visit firstname.lastname@example.org for information about Post 419, at 958 Homestead Rd. Chartered in 1932, it is one of two posts serving Santa Clara.