Be My Valentine
As I write today, I have just delivered my obligatory flowers, candy and card (OK, I admit I have little imagination) to the love of my life. She was sufficiently grateful as she accepted the same tired list of Valentine’s Day gifts, skillfully feigning surprise at my extraordinary taste in choosing just the right gift to affirm my devotion. “How original,” she murmured sotto voce. I admit that I had remembered that today is Valentine’s Day only last night, which knowledge then involved hurried, before-closing-time, trips to the florist, candy shop, and drugstore for the ransom I pay each February 14.
At least this year, gift-purchasing was more prompt than the first year we were married, when I completely forgot The Day until the morning of the 14th. Creeping out of bed before dawn, I rushed to the all-night drugstore for—anything. Grabbing in haste a Whitman’s Sampler and a card, I hurried home, like a thief in the night, and crept into bed, undetected. Morning came, and she received the candy, cooed, and opened the card, which read “Happy Easter.” Well, no one is perfect.
She-who-must-be-obeyed, on the other hand, had bought my gift the prior November, and chose something I had longed for forever, but never expected to get. The woman outdid me as usual.
Well, PBCA outdid itself with some really fine events this month, and your loyal correspondent will recount them in just a bit, saving the best upcoming event for last.
First out of the chute is our January 16 monthly meeting, which saw the usual array of business items, 50/50, door prizes, and unbridled high jinks. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was President (we no longer have to call him “El Supremo.”) Bob Manske’s presentation of “Cars of the Rich and Famous,” completely befuddled most members trying to match various cars with various celebrities. Winner of the contest was new member, Therese Hemmert, with a near-perfect score. It was later revealed that she is the daughter of President Manske. (No, surely no nepotism was at work.) Everyone congratulated Therese, despite some grumbling and accusations that “She spends entirely too much time reading the ‘National Enquirer.’ Overall, it was fun for everyone.
The January 16 “Gallery Night” again drew large crowds to downtown Pensacola for fun, food, and art. British cars were among the numerous other marques present at the car display, which gained lots of attention.
The January 21 “Chili Cook-off” attracted a large crowd of 22 chili-lovers, some of whom were skilled in the culinary arts, as well as a number of trenchermen, there simply there to gorge. Organized by Mickey and Kay Kay, chili-chefs numbering seven entered their favorite concoctions, and they were all palatable. Kay Kay’s chili was a favorite, but she disqualified herself, and the first place award went to Risa Manske (See what I mean? More nepotism, I fear.) Risa walked away with a beautiful set of cutting boards which will surely be used as she continues to excel in the kitchen. Despite the brisk weather, new member Del Greenwood, accompanied by friend Penny, arrived in a Triumph Spitfire sans top. Guests Gene and Eve Wilcox graced my table. Eve is a well-known local artist and added immeasurably to the quality of the conversation.
Last to report on is our February 4 PBCA sponsored “Slow Race Rally,” where driver and navigator follow a map in order to drive a course (in this case, about 23 miles) over twisting country roads, observing all speed limits and traffic laws, but never traveling any faster than 45 mph. Any violations recorded by the navigator added one minute to the overall time. Organized by your loyal correspondent and friend and noted cartographer Major Mickey McNair, the event drew about 16 participants in seven cars, starting at Jay Elementary School Jay, Fl.) and ending in nearby Cantonment at the Panhandle Southern Restaurant, famed for its fried chicken, and rightly so. Coming in first in their 79 MG were Russ and Cathy Pasco, with no penalty points. Second place went to Rich and Darla Willows in their AH 100, while Jeff and Marie Olive, driving their Mini Cooper, earned third, with a time close to the Willows. Keith and Gail Sanders, in their favorite MG, earned fourth, and Midge and Curt Derby experienced some directional challenges and disqualified themselves. New member Mike Lindley, in his beautiful TR 6, drove without a navigator just for fun, but racked up a respectable time.
The story of President Bob Manske and his consort, Risa, is a tale to bring tears to the eyes of even grown men. After losing their way so thoroughly that they ended up in Alabama, they found themselves almost out of fuel and had to stop for help. Still befuddled, they continued to wander, finally finding, no doubt by chance, (“Even a blind hog finds the trough sometimes”, goes the old saying) a familiar road that led them to the restaurant, not only last but dead, dead last, finally joining the rest of us as we enjoyed the delicious buffet. Navigator Risa is scheduled for remedial map reading very soon.
Next Saturday, February 18 is the date for an event we told you about recently, but it bears repeating. The Pensacola-Atmore, Alabama Road Rally, sponsored by Panhandle Cruisers and the Pensacola Austin Healey Club, is a free event open to all, and starts at the Burger King on Highway 90, with registration to begin at 10:00 am. This beautiful 53 mile drive through countryside worthy of photographing charms everyone who has participated in the past, and will again. Ending at Dave’s Catfish House in Atmore, everyone is invited to dine and some will want to go on to the nearby Wind Creek Casino. It promises to be a full day of fun.
The February 20 PBCA monthly meeting will again be held at Sonny’s BBQ on Navy Boulevard at 6:00 pm and will include, among the regularly scheduled business and fun activities, what promises to be an interesting quiz by Mike Darby, who always challenges everyone.
Sunday, February 26 is the date for the Shrimp Boil and Radio Controlled Car Races, an afternoon of good food and great fun as would-be Juan Fangios find themselves flummoxed by little electric cars. Starting at noon until about 5:00 pm, and held at Bear Lake in Munson, Fl., this event has always drawn a big crowd. Everyone is invited to bring a dessert, drinks, and a lawn chair for watching the races.
March 9-11 will see the Amelia Island Concourse de Elegance at Amelia Island, Fl. This rightly-called elegant event features some of the most beautiful cars to be found anywhere and is a popular venue for a number of PBCA members. Your loyal correspondent hopes to be there and will bring an eye-witness report in later columns.
Saturday, March 10 is the date of the Panama City British Car Show. When more is known, we will share it.
Saturday, March 17 is a big day for the South Alabama British Car Club, when they sponsor the Fairhope Arts and Craft Festival car show. This has grown to be enormously popular and lots of PBCA members will be there as they have in the past.
The Big One
The one you do not want to miss, the one that is without parallel, the event of the season, is the April 20-21 “Brits on the Bay” show, marking the 20th anniversary of the Panhandle British Car Association. Held every year since our founding, this year promises to be the grandest of all, and will have it all—guided tours of Historic Pensacola and a tour of Henry Hensel’s private collection on Friday, a welcoming party that night (our famous Red Beans and Rice extravaganza), followed by Saturday’s show, featuring food,displays, a Beatles Band, and all those gorgeous cars. You will never forgive yourself if you miss it. For more information, go to our web-site, pbca.com, or contact Tom Schmidt, chair of the event.
If your loyal correspondent does not see you on April 20 or 21, he will assume you have no appreciation of this, the highest form of culture.