MICHIGAN CITY – With perfect fall weather on Wednesday, Rittenhouse Village saw a record number of exhibitors and turnout for its eighth annual Classic Antique Car Show.
A total of 56 antique cars and trucks, in addition to three antique tractors, filled the front parking lot of the assisted living facility, at 4300 Cleveland Ave. It was a time to admire and reminisce about the vehicles, and catch up with old friends, while making new ones.
Stefanie Olson, senior lifestyle counselor at Rittenhouse, said the event gives residents, family and friends an opportunity to “meet the car owners and hear their stories. For some, there’s even an original title, and many have their original parts. There are often emotional connections to the cars.”
Kay Miller of Michigan City, Mary Schlunz of La Porte, and Duane Robb of Michigan City stopped to admire a 1910 Brush Roundabout car.
“I just came out to look at the cars. They are really nice – some I would like to have," Robb said. "The old ones are fascinating – how simple things are on them. There’s a lot of history here."
“Some of the guys have had the cars since they were teenagers,” Schlunz said.
She had her 1980 Model A replica on display and it placed third in the People’s Choice awards. A member of both the Michiana Antique Auto Club and Hoosier A Ford Club in South Bend, Schlunz has participated in several area shows.
She recalled someone’s remark to her at one of those events: “I haven’t seen my father this excited in years or his eyes light up like this in forever.”
The owners of the Roundabout were Craig and Mary Schroeder.
“Craig and his dad, Wilbur Schroeder, found the parts for it in an old farmyard. What they couldn’t find, they made," Mary said. "They assembled it in the basement and had to take it apart to get it out and then put it back together again.”
The car has been a frequent participant in many Michigan City parades over the years, and she has fond memories of family outings with Craig’s parents to area shows.
Ben and Linda Mickevicius brought their black 1930 Model A Ford for the third year, accompanied by their grandson, Garrett Kessler. It placed second in the People’s Choice.
“I think it’s marvelous,” Ben said. “Everyone has the same interests and you chat with each other on how you put together everything for your car.”
“For the older folks, it’s very nostalgic,” Linda said.
“It brings back many memories for them,” Ben said.
It was those types of memories that inspired Olson to begin the first Classic Antique Car Show in 2011.
“In the beginning, I had a gentlemen resident that restored cars,” she said. “He was a car fanatic. He collected cars, rebuilt cars and participated in car shows. He was devastated when he moved in because he could no longer do those things.
"And we talked about holding a car show and how it would be an event that the men would enjoy. Most assisted livings don’t have a lot of men, but at that time I had a lot of men here as residents.”
Depending on the weather, Olson said 100 to 200 people have attended the now-annual fall event. This year saw 320 who were served lunch.
She said because Rittenhouse is near farming communities, she included tractors and an antique farm truck for the second year it was held.
“It’s added a fun little spark to it – it gets the residents reminiscing about their farm days,” she said.
Marshall Hamlin and Terry Long, both of Michigan City, chatted with Roger Chambers, a Michigan City resident who owns a 1973 Camaro Z/28 with 5,687 miles on it.
Hamlin’s comment was “pretty amazing” as he took a look under the hood.
James and Jackie Misiukiewicz stopped to check out the antique tractors. Members of the Four A's Car Club of Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan, they were participating in the show for the first time. They own a 1972 Ford Mustang and placed first in People’s Choice.
“This is fantastic. It’s entertainment for the seniors,” James said. “Everything so far has been positive. Free food is a plus too – the burgers are very good.”
Gary Bartholomew, who lives nearby, was told about the show by his wife, Deborah, and arrived on his bike.
“She drove by and told me that there were old cars here,” he said. “It’s great. It gives the folks here something to see and do.”
Ericka Kilbourne also told her husband, Michael, about the event and they enjoyed an inexpensive spontaneous date. The pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, she said several members of the congregation are Rittenhouse residents.
“It was a nice date to go on in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, and to be part of a community event,” she said.
Resident Eleanor Benson, 93, enjoyed posing by several cars as her son, Calvin Benson, took photos. The former professional acrobat skater said she loved the show, especially her son's 1994 yellow Corvette.
Ray and Kathy Allen of Michigan City have supported the show since its inception and brought their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. The car’s second owner, Ray purchased it in 1989 in San Antonio, Texas, at an estate sale for $7,252. A “tropical turquoise with a white India ivory top,” the color was an eye-catcher and helped the Allens place fourth in the contest.
“It’s a nice little show,” Ray said. “It’s gotten bigger and bigger. They are very nice people here.”
Greg Drufke of Michigan City, another member of the Michiana Antique Auto Club, brought his 1969 green Fiat, purchased new that year.
“This show is easy to get to and small. It’s relaxing and nice that it’s in the middle of the week,” he said.
Olson said she's very appreciative to Barker Middle School for allowing overflow parking for the event, and Dunes Hospice and Heart To Heart Hospice for providing prizes.