CHRYSLER 300 CLUB INTERNATIONAL
SPRING 2016 MEET – HOLLAND, MICHIGAN
HOSTED BY KEITH AND JUDY BOONSTRA
Our 300 Club's Holland Meet is now history. A huge thanks to Keith and Judy for hosting a wonderful Meet. They connected with the Weather Gods, and provided 5 days of perfect weather for us to enjoy all the wonderful venues they lined up, and for keeping our Beautiful Brutes and a sampling of other classic Mopars all shiny and clean. The hotel's car wash area was hardly visited!
The event kicked off with a Wednesday evening Drivers' Orientation Meeting.
Thursday's events were a visit to Windmill Island in downtown Holland; a guided tour of Zeeland Architectural Components, the Boonstras' millwork business; and viewing the VerHage Mopar Museum.
Windmill Island's main attraction was the large De Zwaan operating windmill that was dismantled in The Netherlands, and reconstructed in Michigan. Interesting factoids included the positioning of the cross-shaped windmill arms during World War II – The Dutch positioned the arms to direct the Allied Air Force to the Nazis' hideouts on the ground, enabling quicker Allied victory. The windmill was also a provider of Village news – lower arm positioned just to the left of vertical broadcast a baby's birth; lower arm positioned just to the right of vertical broadcast a death. The windmill's miller, Alisa Crawford, was a youngish woman who's the only female admitted to the Miller's professional grain miller's guild of The Netherlands. She's not very tall, but quickly climbs about 5 or 6 stories of ladders, several times each day, carrying 50 pound sacks of product over her shoulder. She also climbs up the 4 windmill arms to attach sails, when wind conditions require them.
Zeeland Architectural Components was also fascinating – both the regular production, and the architectural, divisions. Those of us who walked the plant really enjoyed seeing the vintage carts on which inventory was moved around the building. And some of the large milling machinery that looked to be 75-100 years old, was still operating as new! On January 20, 2017, at the Inauguration of our next U.S. President, look for the railing that's erected along the front of the U.S. Capitol Building, and remember that this long length of railing came from the Boonstras' shop. We enjoyed seeing the cabinets with a myriad of small cubbyholes, containing cutting tools used to mill products, both recent and from decades ago. Fascinating to see were restorations in progress of some early 20th Century furnishings from the Henry Ford House.
Sandwiched in between these two tours was enjoyment of barbeque sandwiches provided on the grounds of Windmill Island by a local food truck.
Then we headed over to the VerHage Mopar Museum to see a collection of several pre-1955 Mopars, and post-1965 Mopars – lots of great A-bodies, along with a Chrysler Airflow and Town & Country.
Friday's events began with our Club Business Meeting, followed by a photo-op cruise to the Felt Mansion; then a short drive to downtown Saugatuck, with many of our 300s parked in a reserved area along the waterfront. Folks enjoyed strolling downtown, checking out the town's artsy shops, and quaint feel.
Early afternoon found us venturing over to the Dune Rides depot, where we boarded three Dodge diesel people-carriers driven by our entertaining tour guides – blasting up the sand dunes, then down, drifting around the banked curves. Amazingly, we lost no Club members! We learned interesting history of the dunes' formation, dating back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when the lush forest of this southern Michigan locale was cut down to supply lumber to rebuild Chicago from its ashes. No trees left, the Lake Michigan winds blew the sands higher and higher each year, until grasses were planted to halt the area's reconfiguration
We capped off this delightful Friday with our boat cruise on Lake Macatawa on a very comfortable evening. The paddlewheel boat was family-owned and operated – good food, good company and a fun relaxing evening.
Saturday morning found us detailing our 300s for our 45-mile drive to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. It was a real treat for all of us – and especially Club members for whom this was their first visit to this wonderful venue. The morning clouds vacated to wonderful warm midday sunshine glistening on our Brutes! We started heading back to Holland in a few groups mid-to-late afternoon. Johnnie Slayton was driving his Cloud white 300-B which had a front flex hose problem and caught fire enroute (Rear brake had also seized up as he arrived at Gilmore). So Johnnie immediately pulled into a Burger King, driving the wrong way through the Drive-Thru, followed by several 300s that were trailing him. I understand that Jamie Hyde quickly extinguished the fire. Johnnie picked up his trailer from the hotel, and then trailered his B back to Holland. A little later that afternoon, John Begian in his black 300-G convertible, followed by Carl Bilter driving Mark Obermann's Claret 300-J coupe, followed by me in my white 300-F coupe headed out from Gilmore. Less than 10 miles from starting out, John's 413 blew a freeze plug, so we pulled over onto the narrow gravel / grassy side median of the 2-lane country road. We called Ralph Rhees, who was in Holland and in process of loading his '70 green 300 coupe into his enclosed trailer. Ralph unloaded his 300, and drove the 35 miles with Jim Rockey to come and retrieve John's G - they were our saviors, and we couldn't thank them enough!
We all drove back to the hotel, without further excitement, and enjoyed a wonderful banquet. Awards were passed out to the day's class winners, with the capstone a special Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Gil Cunningham, a co-founder of Chrysler 300 Club International. This was the first ever of these awards presented by our Club. Tributes were paid to Gil by Don Warnaar, Jeff Miklas and Terry McTaggart. Gil, a man of few words, accepted the award, standing with his wife Carol, and accompanied by a large contingent of his family at the dinner table. Check out the video of this presentation that's posted on our Club website.
Unfortunately, Burt Bowkamp was unable to join us at the Banquet, due to a medical issue. He expressed his sincere regrets to Keith, and had really been looking forward to being with us.
Evenings during the Meet were spent admiring, and working on, our 300s in the parking lot, and trading stories and tech advice in our Hospitality Suite.
Before closing, here's mention of other 300 challenges suffered by some of our friends –
By now you may think none of the Beautiful Brutes showed off their stunning curvy bodies trouble-free. Not true! Our car show at Gilmore displayed the following Letter Cars, each worthy of its own centerfold –
And the following iconic Mopars were part of our Gilmore car show –
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