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McLaughlin Buick Club of Canada

Homecoming 2013 - Davison, Michigan

July 7, 2013 9:15 a.m. We departed our home in Alliston, Ontario, heading west along Highway 89, a very scenic road that we use often to avoid the heavy traffic in the Greater Toronto Area. We drove through a very heavy storm with lightning and thunder. This lasted for over an hour, and then by the time we reached the shore of Lake Huron it stopped raining.
This was to be a special drive into Michigan. For the first time in the history of the McLaughlin Buick Club, our annual Homecoming was to be held outside of Ontario, and we were EXCITED!
There were 33 registrations. One very special couple were joining us, Dan and Lynda Lash, former MBCC Members, Dan had some serious health issues a few years ago and it was great to see them again. We welcomed some BCA Members from the Michigan area. Some of these members frequented Homecomings in Ontario in the past and it was very nice to have them with us again. We owe a BIG THANK YOU to the Michigan gang who volunteered to host this meet, Larry and Pam Splane, Dave and Becky Pettengill and Bob and Cloie Hamilton. They did a super job.
The Buick Town Chapter of the BCA held a "Welcome to Michigan" party for us at our hotel, which was attended by some of the club members, including Joe and Bernice Taubitz and their son and grandson from Africa. It was great to see them too. Wendy and I know so many of these Michigan people from the Buick Driving Enthusiasts and it was nice to see them too.July 8, 8:00 a.m.
Our regular driver's meeting was in the parking lot after we all wiped the rain drops off the cars. Boy did it rain in the evening on Wednesday. Our plans were to drive country roads to Bay City, Michigan where we were to be on our own to wander the many antique shops on Water Street, and there are a lot of BIG antique stores!!! There was also an antique auto show room with many very nice cars all for sale; only one Buick, a 1953 Skylark which was priced way over $100,000.00. It was a nice car. After doing our wandering, (we did not see very many packages) we had our lunch, then it was time to mount up again for a short drive to the Tiny Apple Ice- Cream store where the owner was outside to greet us. I said to him "I bet you have not had so many Canadian cars in here at one time" and he agreed. The ice cream was wonderful and not overpriced. From there, another short drive to Warmbier Farms, a gift store in Auburn, MI. After a short time there, we headed across country roads once again on our way to Frankenmuth for shopping and dinner at the Bavarian Inn. We sure enjoyed our family style dinner with a great group of Buick owners, then a nice drive back to the hotel arriving home around 9:00 p.m., a long day and no overtime pay.
July 9, 8:00 a.m. Once again we met in the parking lot eagerly waiting for our instructions for the day's drive and supplement to our published daily guide in the tour book. We were warned that there would be some detours in construction in the Detroit area. The first tour of the day was to be on back roads from our hotel to the GM Heritage Centre in Sterling Heights, a Detroit suburb. Some of us had problems getting there due to misreading the instructions in the book and not quite understanding one line of direction. Oh well, we finally made it. Wendy and I and some of the other tour members visited the centre in 2008 during the celebrations for GM 100th Anniversary. On this visit, we were greeted by Peggy Vizena, who told us about the Heritage Collection and explained how the vehicles are loaned out at various time. She asked who was interested in the prototypes, etc. Then she asked if anyone had an interest in 1965 Gran Sports!!! Wendy's hand went up immediately. Peggy said that it was on display, front and center. Our "Baby" that I built for Wendy between 1993 and 1998 is owned by the Heritage collection and they told us that it is one of the favorite Buicks in the Collection (wow, how to make my head swell with pride). Peggy also told Wendy and I that our baby was used in ads for the new Regal GS. One of the guys who worked on the cars, cleaning and moving them, also told Wendy that the Skylark Gran Sport was his favorite car in the collection. Of course this was the highlight of the morning, being able to share our car with the rest of the gang. Thanks Becky for arranging this for us.
When we departed the collection building we were headed for our lunch stop at Museum Bronze, another wonderful place to visit. Unfortunately they have to close the museum and dispose of the over 2000 hand-made working models that demonstrate the precision building of machinery for mass production. The reason for the closing is that the company next door that they owned has been sold and they have lost the benefit of support for the museum and the foundation Mr. Glen Reid founded in 2001 to encourage the involvement of his family in philanthropy and working with children to help them understand about "hands on training". Mr. Reid passed away in May 2013, thus creating a problem of funding both the museum and the foundation. His daughter Sheri told us the story over our lunch.
After lunch we had a planned one and three quarter hour drive of 56 miles through Detroit and surrounding areas to an elite area of Flint where many G.M. executives built luxurious homes. We were going to visit the Strong House, built in 1930 for Edward T. Strong, the President of General Motors. However? we ran into a couple of road closures that were not planned, which caused a delay of over three quarters of an hour and some rising of temperatures, both under hoods and behind the wheels of some of our cars. We saw some parts of the Detroit/Flint area that tourists never see, but with the help of Ron LeBlanc's GPS, we found our way , if only a bit late. The house was purchased in 2003 by Mike Hurley, a GM engineer and Tom Bryant, who works for Health Plus, a private insurance company. They have lovingly restored the home to its original splendor and are very proud to show it off. We had a delightful dinner on the lawn with white table clothes, real silverware and glass plates, such class! We had an extra treat after dinner. Kip Darcy, VP of marketing for Kettering University in Flint, gave us a power point show featuring the many homes in this area that were used in GM marketing back in the 1930's and '40's. He showed both the homes back then and how they look today. Kim purchased a home nearby and is very excited about his life in Flint. When our evening was over at the home, some of the gang headed over to a local cruise night while the rest of us returned to the hotel. Another great day, the weather was perfect for top down driving and we sure took advantage.
July 10, 8:30 a.m., a little later for our drivers meeting as we did not have a long drive from our hotel to Flint. Dave and Becky took us on a tour of Flint, showing how the area has gone downhill since GM pulled out. We saw the old A.C. spark plug plant and the large open area where Buick Town was, I remember in 1993 taking a picture of the Buick Plant with our 65 Riviera in front, showing where she was made. Remember, most of our Buicks were built in Flint, so this really was a Homecoming. Our first destination this day was the Durant Dort Office building, where Billy Durant had his office; GM has just confirmed that the company will pay for the upkeep of this great historical building. Then to the Flint Cultural Center, the home of the Sloan Museum and Applewood, the former home of the Mott family. We had a great presentation by Larry Gustin and Kevin Kerbitz, both well-known historians in the Flint area and experts on the GM stories, especially Buick. Kevin filled us in on the many Canadians who were involved with the early automobile industry in the Flint area, including information on the Col. Sam relationships with Billy Durant.
We enjoyed another great box lunch in the Sloan, and then wandered over to the Buick Gallery, arriving just after a Malibu had driven into the wall after hitting a hydro pole on Longway Road. There were many cops, a fire truck and an ambulance. The report was that the driver was high on heroin or something. A few of us were able to enter the gallery to view the collection of Corvettes on display. A couple of them had minor damage from the flying bricks. When we left, they closed the gallery due to the dust. We then had the opportunity to tour the Applewood gardens with volunteer guides. Some of our group got to ride on 7 passenger golf cars. Funny, most of the riders were our American friends; I guess us Canadians are in better shape!
At 5:30 p.m. we headed over to the Davison Country Club (Becky's dad is member #3) for our wrap-up banquet followed by a fun bingo game. Everyone at the banquet praised the work and energy of the 6 volunteers who stepped up for an unknown project. It was a great success and everyone had a fantastic time.