West Point car show packs Main Street again

September 18, 2018

WEST POINT — West Point was the hub for the wheels of car enthusiasts going to the Last Fling ’Til Spring car show Sunday.

Now in its 29th year, Dan Nesladek, president of the Road Gems Car Club that organizes the show, said almost 600 entries pre-registered to participate.

Nesladek said thousands of people walked the downtown West Point brick streets all morning and afternoon, admiring the generations of cars, motorcycles, pickups, trucks, vans, semi-trailer trucks, tractors and ramrods.

A mild breeze made the sunny conditions comfortable. Fifty-eight monster trophies were presented at the end of the afternoon.

The car show began on the south end of Main Street, where a U.S. flag was flying overhead from the extended aerial ladder fire truck. Cars lined Main Street for more than a mile, as well as all of the side streets.

The exhibitors included vehicles from 1929 and 1930s — the Al Capone era, Bonnie and Clyde and the “Great Gatsby” movies during the Prohibition era — and all of the years in-between.

Side streets were parked with special classes entries. Motorcycles were on display in abundance. A large number of sleek Corvettes was parked at the north end as thousands of people walked in the streets admiring and inspecting the gleaming vehicles, while proud owners sat nearby ready to talk about their entry.

But vehicles weren’t the only draw Sunday.

A craft show was in progress at the Nielsen Center. The Community Theatre hosted live music and refreshments. Many food vendors on hand, a movie was shown for children during the afternoon hours.

Featured entertainment was three performances of the FMX Motorcycle Stunt Team, a two-man team from Wisconsin doing flips and stunts 25 to 30 feet in the air on the east parking lot of the Nielsen Community Center.

At the show, each vehicle had a story — often a car love story, or a family legacy story, or both. The story dealt with the car’s life, its death and then its resurrection and return to glory days. And that is why and how the vehicle is here today.

The story of Bob and Judy Callaway’s 1930 Henry Ford Model A Tudor Sedan involves spreading joy and happiness to others with their car.

As a 16-year-old, Bob helped his uncle on the farm baling hay and other chores, so his uncle gave him an old black Ford in 1960. Bob went to Vietnam in 1963. He married Judy in 1966.

“The car just sat until 1990 when we took it with us to Lincoln. It took 11 years to restore,” Judy said.

They drove it from Lincoln to West Point and plan to drive from Lincoln next weekend to Nebraska City.

The car will travel 45 mph, has “open-window” air conditioning, a pull-down back window shade, a spacious back seat, no trunk and a spare tire on the back.

“We especially enjoy driving to assisted living and senior centers,” Judy said. “People relive their memories. Many farmers would remember going to town on Saturday nights with their cream cans and egg crates on the floor of the back seat and fit their kids in, too.”

In West Point, as grandparents and grandchildren walked by, the grandfather often would say, ‘We used to have a car like that,’ ” Judy said.

The West Point show also attracted Johnny “The Jet” Rodgers, Nebraska’s first Heisman Trophy winner. Invited to attend by Kevin Wodar, an Omaha Honda dealer, Rodgers was impressed with the event. “A great car show,” he said.

Rodgers, who played on the Nebraska Cornhusker team in 1970-72 under coach Bob Devaney, greeted fans at the show who were remembering Nebraska football’s glory days.

“We got Nebraska on the football map,” he said.

Rodgers autographed footballs and other items and was being photographed with fans, autographing pictures and his newest book, “10 Minutes of Insanity,” the Johnny Rodgers Story.

Nesladek said next year’s car show will be Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Road Gems Car Club has about 40 members who meet monthly and help plan the annual event.

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