A few weeks ago, we received this article from Ed Eminson. For our readers who do not know Ed, he is a loyal Brockway enthusiast who makes the trip to Cortland for the Brockway Truck Show all the way from Australia! His article "tells the story" behind our annual truck shows and we would thought it would be great to share. Thanks Ed!
More after the break.
Just what's so special about a Brockway Truck Show?
By Ed Eminson
This is a question I've been asked many times since 2000 when I was fortunate enough to hear of and attend the Inaugural Brockway show in Cortland USA, home of the famous Brockway trucks. What started out as a celebration of the City's Centenary, supported by a truck show of Brockway trucks , was the trigger for something stronger and closer to the heart of every Brockway owner and past employee of the truck manufacturer than the organizers could have ever imagined. Today it has grown to be the biggest event of the year in Cortland, with the dream of their own museum being realized.
The stories that I could tell from that very first show in 2000 are long and amazing, but I'm going to talk about the lead up to, and finally the delivering of, this year's legendary 2010 Brockway Truck Show.
My plane touched down on time in Syracuse NY and as usual my good friends Bob and Bonnie Mudge were there to greet me. I met Bob in Main Street Cortland at the 2001 show and there was an instant connection. He invited me to stay with him the next time I came over and so began a great friendship. Bob worked for Brockway in the design department and was with the company right up until its closure in 1977, when he transferred to Mack Trucks in Allentown PA.
It's about a thirty minute drive from Syracuse to Cortland, and as we chatted it was mentioned that a slight detour would take us right past the building site of the Brockway Museum. It had been two years since I had last been in Cortland and the changes to the building were amazing. To give you a little background on the Museum, it was one of those dreams that we all have every now and again but this dream really came true. The idea for a Brockway Museum was conceived after a couple of shows as the interest in Brockway continued to swell. The talk and yearning grew dramatically but the biggest hurdle was money – or the lack of it. A suitable building was found but to buy and renovate it was an enormous task. Something that I have learned from talking to everyday Americans is that if you believe in something passionately, and you are committed to its cause, then it can happen. Well, they were passionate and they were committed and there were many who dreamed the same dream, but one in particular amongst these dreamers was a successful business man named Peter Grimm. Peter owns a number of Brockways, and his sharing the dream also meant that he could take it to a new level and with Peter's generous contribution the building was secured and a grant from the government meant that renovations could begin. This exciting dream had by now captured the hearts of many local enthusiasts and a team of volunteers under the command of Tom Kile took to turning a disused building into a home for the most rugged truck in the world. It still has some way to go but we all know that very soon the celebrations will begin.
|BROCKWAYS IN LINE AT
THE FUTURE BROCKWAY MUSEUM
|THE LATEST MODEL BROCKETTE|
It was Thursday night and unofficially the Brockway show had begun for me. A pre-show barbecue to catch up with some old friends and meet new ones was most enjoyable. Our hosts, Hugh and Judy Riehlman had their own surprise. Hugh owns a very nice Brockway model 361 and is a collector and restorer of tractors. His spare hours had been spent feeding his imagination and with a little work he had turned his golf buggy into a Brockette, complete with the huskie dog out front.
Friday is always an exciting day for me. This is when Bob's good friend and ex work colleague, Bob Dillon arrives. Bob Dillon was the head of design for Brockway and was responsible for the 700 series Brockway. It's pure heaven to sit and listen to the two Bobs talk and reminisce about the old Brockway days. Their minds are crystal clear and they can paint a story with every colour of the rainbow. By now you are slipping further into the Brockway world.
The day has given way to evening and a group of about three hundred Brockway Nuts are mingling at the museum site for a get together dinner. This is where friendships are again made and renewed, stories are stretched to the limit and plans are made for the parade and show the next morning as it is also the assembly point for the Brockway trucks prior to the parade-in itself more than worthy of a show title. When you leave for the night you have just started to overdose on diesel, dreams and plain bullsh##. With a bit of luck there should be enough left to kick start you in the morning.
|"OLD BLUE" BOB MUDGES
1948 MODEL 154WH BROCKWAY
|THE ORIGINAL BROCKWAY CARRIAGE
WORKS AT HOMER NY
Morning…. Yeah!!!! That's right. It's Saturday and show day. Bob Mudge fires up "Old Blue". "Old Blue" is a 1948 model 154WH Brockway with a wrecker body. He comes from the same stable as Bruiser, my 1977 F761TL, so the breeding must be good. I follow Bob and ‘Old Blue' down to the Museum to check out the trucks waiting for the parade to begin. When I rounded the corner I could not tell what was shining most, the Brockways or grins on everyone's faces. After ten shows you would think that the anticipation and excitement would have worn off a little but in true, dedicated, Brockway style it just grows every year.
It's probably a three or four mile drive back into town along the parade route which ends in the towns centre. Already people are beginning to take up advantage points to watch the trucks strut their stuff. Two blocks are barricaded off to traffic so that the trucks can park in Main Street and the public can mingle amongst them without any danger. I take up a position just behind Main Street which gives me a great view of the parade and a good backdrop to take photos. I have been given many chances to drive a truck in the parade, but reluctantly I have always declined in favour of taking photos. Again the Brockway friendship is always there.
|A BROCKWAY BUGGY||THE 2010 PARADE OF 140 BROCKWAYS|
9.00am and at last the leaders of the parade are in sight. As usual the police car is the escort, followed this year by the horses pulling several nineteenth century Brockway buggys. Brockway manufactured various styles and models of carriages from 1875 and continued through until the first Brockway truck was made. From here it was wall to wall Brockways- one hundred and forty to be exact. To see just one make of truck in such large numbers is breathtaking, regardless of whether they are KW's Macks or Brockways. Cortland is the home of the Brockway Huskies and once a year the dogs come home. Today was their day!
By now all the trucks had settled into Main Street and were being admired by thousands of people who had come from hundreds of miles away to share this day and reignite their lifetime memories. The trucks ranged from a spectacular restored 1914 model on debut, through every decade to the final year of 1977 when they ceased manufacture. There were restored trucks, original trucks with almost every engine on offer throughout the Brockway history, including the very popular 12V71 GM. Progress through the trucks along Main Street was becoming very slow, with only a few yards being made before meeting someone else that you have not seen since the last show. Main Street was buzzing, and the trucks briefly took second stage while the G'days and stories continued. The Brockway movement has bought out a sea of characters and as we know they are an important part of any show. By this time it is almost impossible to get a decent photo of the trucks due to the crowd but nobody is complaining.
|BROCKWAYS ON MAINSTREET||ONE OF THE ATTRACTIONS
ON MAINSTREET "THE FOUNDRY"
Stall holders had set up on the footpaths and memorabilia of all descriptions were being traded. Shop keepers were experiencing their best trading day of the year. Husky dogs were being paraded and everyone was enjoying a beautiful sunny late summer day. One display that caught my eye was the foundry that the students from a local university had set up, actually pouring molten metal from a furnace into castings. I happened to get the last Brockway plaque that they poured in commemoration of the 2010 show.
The speeches and prizes were awarded and the show was almost over. As I stood in Main Street amongst the trucks with horns blearing and people waving and cheering, I started to think about the show and just what it meant. Was this just another truck show? Why is it so special? I had no time to answer that question because it was back to the Museum for the legendary Saturday night chicken dinner, followed by a Brockway auction and then fireworks. Again about three hundred people had gathered for their yearly feast of the famous barbecued chicken. Now I have been to a lot of after show dinners and walked away well satisfied with the meal, but this one is without a doubt the daddy of them all. America is a big place, with a big population and big achievements and a big appetite. Well, their chicken dinner is the same... BIG! Exactly one half of a barbecued chicken on a plate, topped with a couple of large boiled spuds, a mountain of salads, a gallon or two of dressing, a bun and then the biggest serving of their traditional steaming hot cooked baked beans that I have ever seen -no wonder the northern hemisphere has an emission problem. By this time you are nearing the end of the serving line when a can of fizz and an oversize serving of desert is delicately balanced on top, and it's up to you to see if you can get to your seat without making a clown of yourself. I actually met one couple that had come down to the show from Canada, not so much to see the show but to participate in the feast of the legendry chicken dinner.
|SHIRLY, THE BROCKWAY ANGEL AT THE DINNER||A HAPPY GROUP OF EX BROCKWAY EMPLOYEES||BROCKWAY NUT JOE WITH HIS HUSKY XENA|
As the tucker in the tummy is settling down the auction begins. This is an event where Brockway parts and goods are donated and then auctioned off to raise funds for the completion of the building. This year a sketch of the Brockway Superliner that never was takes centre stage. There is mystery surrounding the story of the so called Brockway Superliner that is fast becoming a legend. When Mack closed the doors on Brockway back in 1977 it was alleged that a new prototype Brockway truck was being assembled. It was a model 761 with a one piece fiberglass hood with integrated fenders for greater eye appeal. The designers were fitting different grilles and bumpers as well as headlight assemblies to the truck to give a new look to the famous Brockway name. If approved it would have gone into production as a model improvement. No-one knows whatever happened to this pre-production prototype since the closure of Brockway although a couple of years ago photos of various combinations of the improved Brockway fronts have surfaced. Mack introduced its famous "Mack Superliner" a couple of years later and the emerging legend is that its name was taken from the now mystery Brockway. This subject is intensely debated amongst the Brockway enthusiasts with an obvious conclusion. As for the truth well – why let that get in the way of the story of the legend of the highway – THE FAMOUS BROCKWAY TRUCK.
As the auctioneer moved to start the bidding off for the Brockway Superliner sketch I had this crazy thought that if I bid hard and strong I would have something special to take home to my wife for a present. I know she shares my enthusiasm for the old trucks – well she did before Bruiser terrorized her. Bidding started and I threw my hand up. Either the yanks think fast or I react slowly for it was only a matter of seconds when I heard the word one thousand dollars mentioned and I had this feeling that everyone was looking at me. By the time I realized that my hand was still in an upright position one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars was mentioned and again everyones eyes were focusing on me. This time my hand came down, well and truly down, and firmly wrapped around a pole trying to support my shaky legs. I missed out on the sketch but saved my bacon instead. My advice to myself after that close call was to keep it simple Ed. Take the lady home a T shirt.
|PHOTOS OF THE LEGENDRY "BROCKWAY SUPERLINER"|
|TOM KILES 1914 BROCKWAY MODEL G||PETER GRIMMS MODEL 762
BROCKWAY WITH V12 GM
The fireworks display was the finale. The 2010 Brockway show was over but the memory lingers on. I eventually had time to think about my earlier questions as to why Brockway Truck Shows are special and I think I've come to realize that it's not just about the trucks. Sure, they're wonderful to see, and in my case they are my world, but there's more to it than that. With the trucks come the owners, the admirers, the stories, the friendships, and of course the memories. Cortland has an overwhelming capacity to welcome a stranger from a half a world away and call him family. The trucks have brought us together and Cortland is an annual meeting place where friendships are continually being renewed. All truck shows come with that sense of anticipation to catch up with people you haven't seen since the last show, but for some reason Cortland is different. Maybe by being an owner of a Brockway truck and going back to the very place where the legend of Brockway started over 120 years ago makes it special. When you see 140 Brockway trucks in a variety of models and ages assembled in the Main Street of the town where they were produced, it gives you absolute sense of pride. The people involved with the show as well as the museum, are fun, committed hard working and loyal people who continually inspire you to dream the dream... chase it... live it... enjoy it!
It really can happen. I've taken two friends from Australia over to a Brockway show on separate occasions and they will tell you the same thing, Brockway shows really ARE special.
|THE ORIGINAL 1912 BROCKWAY||JOYCE AND BOB DILLON – THE 700 SERIES MASTERMIND||THE FAMOUS 300 SERIES BROCKWAY|