The “Milwaukee Masterpiece” car show moved to a different weekend this year, but at the same location in Veteran’s Park. We went to the Sunday Concours d’Elegance, and thought it a particularly good show.

This year’s theme was “Style and Speed,” and featured a particularly nice collection of classic Jaguars, a marque I am particularly fond of. There was also an “alternative” category, which had a good number of makes and models of steam and electric cars. There were some very handsome pre-war Packards (Georgie’s favorite), including a beautiful convertible Touring Car. There were also interesting examples of classic Rolls-Royce autos, one of which had a rarely seen Town Car body (the classic old-style “limousine” with the open driver’s compartment).

On Sunday, June 19th, we drove out to Sussex Village Park for the annual British Car Field Day.

This year’s field was a bit smaller than some past years, but we still had a good opportunity to take up-close looks at a lot of interesting cars. As usual, there were a goodly number of examples of the classic British two-seater sports car, as made by MG, MGB, Austin-Healey, Sunbeam, and others. This was the first time we saw an example of the Morris Minor, frequently referred to in British literature, but seldom seen these days. While there were fewer Jaguars than some years, there was a rare type on display (possibly a Mark VIII?) that I was very interested to see.

We were also interested to note that there are now replicas available for some of the classic marques. There were two examples of a Lotus Super 7 replica—the car famously seen in the opening sequence of “The Prisoner”—which were very attractive.

There was also a new production model of the Morgan Three-Wheeler, notable since it can be legally imported to the US due to being classed as a motorcycle. The vehicle is driven by a massive cycle-type engine which sits in the open air in front of the front axle where an ordinary car’s grill would be. The boat-shaped body has an open cockpit which theoretically seats two very friendly slim people, and a minimal windscreen. (I didn’t note if this model has any kind of luggage compartment or not.) It’s a very minimalist approach to motoring and looks like it would be fun to drive for fun, but highly impractical otherwise.
Wauwatosa Tour of Homes

Saturday, October 3rd, we took the annual Wauwatosa Historical Society tour of homes. This year, the neighborhood for the tour was Washington Highlands, with six houses open on Washington Circle, Upper Parkway North, and West Washington Boulevard. All the homes were very gracious and handsomely appointed. The two we liked best happened to be the first two we visited. One was a nicely remodeled and finished “Milwaukee Bungalow” on Washington Circle, and the second an “American Tudor” on West Washington Boulevard. An “American Tudor” is based on Tudor design, but is a bit modernized and streamlined as compared to a classic English Tudor home. This house backs onto parkway land along Schoonmaker Creek and Martha Washington Drive, which gives the effect of having a sizable scenic estate.

The Wauwatosa Historical Society does a good job of organizing these tours, and all the docents were friendly and informative. Thanks to the generous residents that opened their homes to us!

West Allis Car Show

Sunday morning, October 4th, we took a quick pass through the annual West Allis Car Show on Greenfield Avenue between S. 70th and S. 76th Streets. As ever, the show included a wide variety of classic, vintage, and collectible cars, with emphasis on later-model American “muscle cars”. Unlike the “Milwaukee Masterpiece” show which covers mainly historically correct restorations, at West Allis there are a lot more custom cars and “hot rods” which are interesting to see.
It’s always a pleasant time if the weather is good. A DJ will be playing classic rock through the speakers that cover the district streets, various charities will be selling snacks, and the people-watching is almost as good as the car watching.

Dining at Sanford

On Tuesday, October 6th, we went to Sanford restaurant for dinner. For starter, we split an order of duck breast, which was excellent. For main course, I had the “Lacquered Quail and Crisp Veal Sweetbread with Grilled Peach and Braised Collards, Peach Kernel Gastrique“. Lacquered Quail has been grilled and glazed, which gives it a shiny finish. Mine was quite delicious, and the veal sweetbreads, lightly breaded so that they had a dumpling-like appearance were excellent also, with a very light flavor. The grilled peach and collards were a fine accompaniment.

Georgie had the “Spiced Paillard of Salmon* with Bulgar Pilaf, Cilantro and Tomato”, which was part of the monthly ethnic menu, in this case, Lebanese. The salmon was perfectly prepared, moist and delicious, and the bulgur pilaf was good with it. The only drawback was the drizzle of tomato sauce, which contained some very hot spice that was too sharp for our taste.

For desserts, I chose the wickedly rich Banana Butterscotch Toffee Tart, while Georgie had the Blueberry Clafoutis. These are both variations on classic Sanford desserts, and were up to expectations.

Service at Sanford was as usual excellent. We were pleased to see that, although it was early on a week night, business was brisk, perhaps due to Sanford being rated number one in the Journal-Sentinel annual review of restaurants that came out recently. The rating is well deserved.
On Sunday, August 26th, we went to the lakefront for this year’s “Milwaukee Masterpiece” car show. It was a lovely day, and we had a good time admiring the many beautiful automobiles on display.

We thought that this year there was a particularly fine selection of classic cars present, and some very interesting collections. For example, while there was an exquisite Jaguar XKE coupe being shown, there were also a number of the Mark I and Mark 2 Saloon (‘sedan’) cars, which were the more sedate Jaguars from the same period. There were some very rare models represented, such as a 1937 MG SA 2 Litre Saloon (usually you only see the two-seater MGs) and 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux Coupe (Bugattis of any kind are very rare, but this was a type I’d never even seen a picture of before.)

There was also an interesting section of one-offs, customs, and conversions, such as the very handsome 1953 Victress S-1A Roadster (very advanced for its day), the 1961 Shabbla 1965 World's Fair Concept Car by Bucci Carrozzeria (which looks like something Buck Rogers would drive), and the 1962 Wild Goat Special Roadster by The Goodrich High School Auto Shop, built from plans originally published in “Popular Mechanics” magazine.
Sunday, October second was the annual "Classic Car Show," which takes place along Greenfield Avenue in West Allis between S. 70th and S. 76th Street. This was a nice day for it, and there was a very good turnout. As distinct from the Milwaukee Masterpiece show, which is heavy on antiques, classics, and restorations, the West Allis show is much more of a "hot rod" show, with emphasis on American cars, "street rods" and customs. It's great fun to walk along the street and reminisce about cars that our parents, relatives, or neighbors had, the cars we would have liked to have had, or the ones we would STILL like to have. It's free, and local charities and West Allis merchants vend food, one of the radio stations plays music, and the West Allis Police D.A.R.E. program has a booth, all of which make it a very nice community event.
Sunday afternoon the 28th, after the ballet, we drove down to the lakefront to see this year's Milwaukee Masterpiece Auto Show. Sunday is the best day to go, since that is the concours d'elegance day, and has most of the classic cars. They are judged on such things as best of type, best preservation, best restoration, paint, interiors, etc. This year, there were two featured types. It was the 40th anniversary of the Jaguar "E" type--if you think of a 1960's era Jaguar sports car, that is the one you are picturing--, and they also had a special section for fiberglass bodied cars. There were a surprising number of such cars built as early as the 1950's, mostly in small numbers, and many of them extremely futuristic looking, even by today's standards. There were even a couple of cars made by Glasspar, a company much better known for boats. I am particularly fond of the "E" Jags, so was very interested and pleased by the turnout.

This is a really excellent show, with good examples of a lot of rare marques on display, including Talbot-Lago, Delahaye, and Lancia, among others. Dates of construction ranged from a 1905 Cadillac touring car to a 1991 Porsche. There was a very nice selection of the Wisconsin-made Kissel, a powerful and well-appinted car that was a darling of Hollywood stars in the 1920's, but was killed by the Great Depression as so many other brands were. Best of Show was a beautiful 1930 Stutz M Supercharged 'Lancefield' Coupe, a picture of which can be seen here: http://www.milwaukeemasterpiece.com/home.htm

We spend a very nice couple of hours walking around the show grounds at Veteran's park, and I added a lot of photos to my collection.
On the first Sunday of October, the West Allis Downtown Merchants sponsor a car show, which brings a couple of hundred or so classics, muscle cars, and hot rods to Greenfield Avenue between South 70th and South 76th streets, which are blocked off so that people can admire the vehicles from every angle. We like the West Allis show because it is very much a hobbyist’s event, and people are not ashamed to show off their “works in progress,” be they ever so rusty, or showing more Bondo and primer than custom paint. The car owners sit with their machines and a ready to talk with the interested, while a DJ plays classic rock over the city speaker system. This year, it did start to rain, but we managed to glance over the whole show before people began closing the hoods and doors--.
Sunday the 7th found us doing some shopping down on South 76th street, and we happened upon the annual car show sponsored by the “Solid Gold MacDonald’s” located near 76th and Layton. The restaurant has a “rock and roll” theme, and they’ve hosted a car show for several years, but this was the first time we’d been down there for it. As might be expected from the “rock & roll” theme, it is primarily a “hot rod” theme, and the vast majority of entrants were American customs and “muscle cars” dating from the 1930’s through the 1980’s, with a smattering of later model sports cars and classics. Since we hadn’t planned on visiting the show, we only walked through about half of it, but it was a very impressive collection and fun to have seen. Worth planning ahead for in future years.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the advice: "Never discuss your finances in front of your car," which wisdom is due to the uncanny propensity for these mechanical necessities to suddenly develop problems sufficient to soak up their weight in free cash. Now, however, I am dismayed to report that modern cars are capable of understanding and interpreting what comes over the car radio as well. How else to explain car number 1 coming up with, not just one, but a sudden constellation of symptoms, guaranteed not only to negate the effects of any upcoming tax rebate but to requisition any normally disposable income for the next two months. Therefore, be very careful what you allow your car to listen to: if radio news has any information that there might be an economic upturn sometime in the future, I recommend changing the station.

Oh, well. I hope giving a bunch of money to the mechanics counts as "economic stimulus," in which case we have done our part--.
The weekend of June 16-17 was a go places and look at stuff weekend. Saturday morning, we took the Historic Concordia Neighborhood home tour, something we've wanted to do for a couple of years. Unlike the Historic Milwaukee Tours we frequently take, the Concordia Neigborhood Association puts together its own tour every year, covering the same area but with different houses. The Concordia neighborhood lies west of "downtown" and north of Wisconsin Avenue. Wisconsin Avenue, back when it was "Grand" Avenue, was at one time THE posh area in Milwaukee, where the Beer Barons and other captains of industry had their homes. The adjacent area became home to a lot of smaller entrepeneurs, engineers, and managers, which resulted in construction of a lot of fine homes although not on palatial scales. As wealth moved to Lake Drive and the northern suburbs, many of the Grand Avenue homes were torn down and the area wnet into a decline, from which it has now been salvaged, although unfortunately quite a few of the once-gracious houses were long-ago replaced by utilitarian apartment blocks.

The tour headquarters was the Tripoli Shrine Temple on Wisconsin Avenue, someplace we've always wanted to see inside. The exterior would be a creditable imiation of a Mid-eastern mosque complete with minarets, were it not for the inappropriate statues of saddled camels out front. (The Tripoli Shrine, if I recall correctly, used to be known for its Camel Corps parade unit--.) The public rooms inside are spectacular, done entirely in colorful geometric tile patterns, and very well preserved.

We saw many very nicely preserved and restored houses, with some needing work. One of the showpieces of the tour was the Manderly Bed and Breakfast, which has been well restored and richly decorated with the owners' stained glass art which nicely compliments the antique furniture. Another was the former home of Milwaukee Daniel Hoan, a siginificant local historical figure of the early 20th Century. Also very nicely restored, we were interested to see that the house was for sale for a mere $250,000.00. (I have since learned that the sellers have an offer--.) Actually reasonable, given that we saw a larger house needing work was being offered at $350K, which shows how far the gentrification of the area has come.

Saturday evening, we went to the home of Chuck Tritt and Julie Ann Hunter, which coincidentally is a beautiful 19th Century farm house in Mequon, for the monthly Bardic dinner, the theme of which was "Route 66". We dined on foods associated with cities along the route, and skald Bob Seidl read from works about the historic highway while we enjoyed the home's rural ambiance.

An automotive theme continued when we drove to the village of Sussex for the 26th Annual British Car Field Day, which had on display more than 200 examples of British marques, including MG, Triumph, Austin Healy, Mini-Cooper, Jaguar, Lotus, Sunbeam and rarer types. It was particularly interesting to see the many variations of the British two-seater, the orginal 'sports car', in its incarnations of various models and manufacturers, from the small and fragile looking MG's to the large and powerful seeming Morgan 12's. Jaguar, my favorite, was represented by a number of XKE and later types, with a smattering of luxury Bentley and Rolls-Royces. Probably the car that inspired the most comment was a new Rolls-Royce sedan that had been put through the "pimp my ride" process as a promotion stunt for a "pot noodle" company. (Noodle cups must be big business in Britain). So, imagine if you will, a black Rolls painted with a lurid red and yellow "flame job," "rims" and a truly dangerous looking high-tech "boom car" sound system. The result was croggling.

That said, I spent much more time faunching over the pristine Aston-Martin DB-5 (black, rather than the "Goldfinger" silver) and a Ford Angila that had been given a very nice and subdued "hot rod" treatment. The Angila looks like a 1950's PT Cruiser, and was coincidentally one of the first cars my father owned, so there was a sentimental connection there.

We kind of hustled through the show since the weather looked threatening, but had a good time while we were there.
On August 26th, we went to Veterans Park at the Milwaukee lakefront to see the second annual Masterpiece Style & Speed Showcase. This gathering showcased over a hundred beautifully restored or mint classic cars ranging from a 1901 horseless carriage to 1960’s muscle cars and some rare novelty items such as an Aquacar and Messerschmitt and BMW postwar mini-cars. Although the exhibitors were mainly just from Wisconsin and nearby states, I was really impressed by the quality and variety of cars on display. There were some rare marques like Lagonda and Morgan I had read about but never actually seen examples of. There were TWO Bugattis, one a lovely dual-cowl roadster originally purchased by jazz-age cartoonist John Held. There were some lovely examples of Georgie’s favorite, the 30’s era Packards, and mine, the Jaguar XKE. Periodically during the afternoon, selected cars were moved into a lecture tent so that the owners could talk about the restoration, maintenance, and quirks, which allowed us to see such things as a Stanley Steamer actually under power. This was a really excellent show, and I took a lot of pictures, some of which I have posted at:
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ggrihn/album?.dir=41cdre2&.src=ph&store=&prodid=&.done=http%3a//photos.yahoo.com/ph//my_photos

and I hope to have more up soon.

Catching Up

Oct. 9th, 2003 12:50 pm
It’s been rather busy the last couple of weeks: let’s see.

On the 12th of September, I was depositing my paycheck at our credit union when I noticed a poster for sale of a 1997 Mercury Sable station wagon, good mileage and good price. The credit union occasionally has vehicles that have been ‘surrendered’ on a loan default, and this was a model we had been looking at as a possible replacement for my ’91 which now had 220,000 miles on it. I checked out the car and found it was an acceptable color, a nice teal green. (Georgie has the right to veto cars that are white or silver, as being unsafe for visibility in winter, or beige, as being boring.) I test drove it that Saturday morning, and found it good. We went in to the CU office on Monday and put down a payment to hold it while we shuffled funds to buy it. The ’91 was donated to charity. I would have felt bad giving or selling it to someone since I’m pretty sure whatever goes wrong with it next will be disastrously expensive if not dangerous, but the place we gave it to is an auto-mechanic training program, and they’ll take it apart an put it together again before they turn it loose on anyone else--. The wagon is very nice, and now I can do things like haul home a hunk of plywood from Menard’s again.

September 23rd was the Burrahobbits meeting, and we kept with the September Celtic theme, as the reading here was the Tain Bo Cualinge. We compared and contrasted a number of translations, including that of Lady Gregory, and the recent on by Thomas Kinsella. We also had cakes (including apple spice cupcakes by Georgie) to celebrate the eve of Bilbo’s birthday, which is of course Sept. 24, our reckoning.

September 29th is Michaelmas (the feast of St. Michael), and we got together for dinner at the residence of Tim Kozinski and Shelia Haberland for the annual dinner of lucky goose (it is lucky for you to eat goose on Michaelmas—not so lucky for the goose.) I brought wine and Georgie brought pies for dessert, both of which were well received. Tim prepared goose en croute as an appetizer, and the main dish of roast pork, both of which were excellent. The luck of the goose has stood by us well in the past, we shall see how effaceous it is this year. At any rate, we had a lovely dinner with good company.

October 4 was this month’s Bardic dinner—early this month due to other conflicts. Once a year we do a communal play reading instead of an individual reading, and this year’s play was the classic American comedy, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” We had great fun with the reading, despite the fact that many of us had to double roles. Georgie read Abby Brewster, Megan Barrowsby was Martha Brewster, I doubled the Brewster brothers Jonathan and Teddy, Bob Seidl read Mortimer Brewster, and Lily Sullivan was our Elaine. New York 30’s was the food theme, and we had standing rib roast will all the accouterments, with New York style cheesecake for dessert.

October 5, we drove to Spring Green for the closing performance of the season, “The Tempest.” It was a lovely day for a drive, and the gradually warming temperatures meant that with preparation we were able to endure the outdoor performance in comfort. This was an excellent production of Shakespeare’s last play, with some new ideas in it. Jonathan Gillard Daly was a very vigorous and worldly Prospero, much different from the withdrawn and mystical character frequently seen. He has learned to use his magic as a survival tool, instead of the monkish study which lost him his dukedom. If Daly’s performance had a flaw, it is in his lack of vocal variety. Prospero has a number of lengthy declamations, beginning with his exposition to Miranda in the second scene, and some of these got monotonous after a while. Most of the other characters were unremarkable, but both Ariel (Colleen Madden) and Caliban (Christopher Marshall) were scene-stealers in their own ways. Madden’s Ariel was subtly unhuman, not the flitting sprite commonly seen, and clever amplification of her good voice made her singing magic very effective. Caliban was a more human and more wretched creature, and seemed rather informed by the “Lord of the Rings” Gollum, with his emphasis on cringing and bootlicking rather than feral savagery.

October 6th was our 19th wedding anniversary. (It never seems to have been that long!) In the earlier part of the day we closed refinancing of our home mortgage so save ourselves a bit of money each month. In the evening we celebrated with dinner at Sanford, still Milwaukee’s finest restaurant. I had the seasonal mushroom special, which consisted of a mushroom and barley appetizer, tempura mushroom with broth, pheasant and wild mushroom “cobbler,” and “truffle” ice cream with spice cake. Georgie had the rabbit loin appetizer, followed by grilled elk, and tart cherry clafoutis for dessert. It was all wonderful! After dinner, we went to the Ashram meeting and found the topic of the night had been postponed by the low turnout, and just settled into an evening of chat.

October 7, we made time to run out to a movie, the first one in weeks. We chose to see “Secondhand Lions,” which we can heartily recommend. Robert Duvall and Michael Caine are fun to watch (although I don’t quite buy Caine as a Texan) and Hailey Joel Osment gives a fine performance as the boy fobbed off on his two eccentric and mysterious great-uncles. It is a very entertaining plot, enlivened by the old men’s reminiscences of their fabulous past which keeps it from being a mere sentimental story. Go and see it.

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