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            The Fabulous 50s Ford Club of Manitoba - Its Beginning and Early Days !                           

 

In the early 1980’s, there was a 14 member Fabulous Fifties Ford Club of Manitoba that was a chapter of the California-based Ford club.

However, meetings were sporadic and there was minimal member participation in car shows. It seemed that the Ford lovers of the day were pretty much consumed with their jobs and families. In time, the club kind of faded away.

Out of the ashes of that experience, rose the Phoenix now beloved of our club members - the Fabulous 50s Ford Club of Manitoba.

More specifically, this is how it happened. On July 9, 1994, Larry D’Argis attended the All Fords Sunday car show hosted by the Galaxie Club of Manitoba which was in its second year of operation.

As he wandered around, Larry couldn’t help but notice a number of 1950’s Fords and Mercurys. He began to wonder if there would be sufficient interest in re-establishing a 50s Ford club.

Nothing ventured; nothing gained!

Larry took down the names of twelve Ford owners and promised to contact them shortly to discuss establishing a new Ford car club.

Less than a month later, the Fabulous 50s Ford Club of Manitoba was established. The first meeting, held August 3, 1994, was attended by 13 people which included two couples - the Lannoos and Martens.

Two weeks after their first meeting, the original group of Ford enthusiasts met again. But by then, the group had expanded by an additional seven people.

By the end of their second meeting, the club name, Fabulous 50s Ford Club of Manitoba, had been established as a non-profit organization dedicated to 1949 - 1960 Monarch, Mercury, Meteor, Edsel, Thunderbird, and Lincoln cars and trucks but with ownership of such a vehicle not required to become a member. Dues were set at $25.00.

A Board of Directors was established with the responsibility to insure that all business transactions are conducted in accordance with the purpose and structure of the Club.  Directors elected and continuing to date are:

Larry D’Argis, Linden Johnson, Susan Martens, Betty Lannoo, Albert Lannoo, and Cliff Relf

The first Executive was elected and volunteer positions for Newsletter Editor, Activities, Publisher, Photographer, Advertising, Historian, Fundraising and Activities Committee were filled.  Weekly runs were planned for Thursday nights at the Thunderbird Drive-Inn on McPhillips and club meetings had been established as being the last Thursday of the month. Membership dues were set and members discussed what they would like to do activity-wise and to obtain in terms of merchandise. They also decided to maintain a club photo album.

At the third meeting, held September 29, 1994, Maryann Zabolotny presented the club logo for approval and Albert Lannoo and Rick Wilk from Star Sportswear presented the club jacket design. Both were approved by the members. Larry D’Argis presented the 1st club Roster and the newsletter title of  “The Customline” was approved with Larry D’Argis as its first editor and Ed Wlock as the publisher. A new member, Don Turner, offered to host the 1st Annual Pumpkin Run.

By the time the fourth meeting came round on October 27th, a bank ac- count had been opened and was bursting with $584.50. By now membership had grown to 25 members and 31 vehicles. They decided to hold the club’s 1st Christmas Party on November 24th.

By the time the Fall 1995 issue of The Customline was printed, membership had reached seventy and included members from BC, Quebec, and the North West Territories.

The following charter members have remained within the club from day one of its inception: Albert & Betty Lannoo, Gordon Boles, Larry D’Argis, Bob and Pat Keller, Henry and Susan Martens, Cliff and Carol Relf, and Ed and Pat Wlock.  Gerry Wilson and Roy Zelinsky were both charter members who dropped out of the club for a period of time and later rejoined.

Today, as membership approaches 200, Larry’s early estimate of a potential membership of 30 Manitoban Ford lovers seems a tad low.

As you read through the on-line club newsletters, you can’t help but be struck by the fact that the attributes that we hear that members most appreciate about this club were evident very early on in the club’s history - friendliness of members, frequent activities, road trips, regular meetings, support from the business community, and the willingness of the members to pitch in to do whatever is required to operate the club and make its various activities a big success.

From the very beginning, the stories in The Customline confirm the “big heart” of the membership and the extraordinary contributions of some of the members.

In a newsletter story titled “A Fond Farewell”, we learn how a casual conversation between a club member and a nurse at a hospital resulted in club members pitching in to help restore a 1958 Edsel for a complete stranger whose terminal illness was preventing his finishing his car before his passing. Because club members cared, the Edsel’s restoration did occur in time. His car was driven to Health Sciences Centre so that he could be brought outside in his wheelchair and enjoy a brief time sitting in the driver’s seat of his beloved Edsel. Only true car folk fully understand how much that must have meant to him.

And then there’s the time that Albert supplemented the club’s funds with a substantial sum of money so that it could take on an activity that club finances would not support.

Club members’ adventurous spirit was very much in play. Club travels included Findlater, SK, Ashern, Carman, Winkler, Steinbach, Beausejour, and Poplarfield and that was just in the first year. And, of course only one year after establishing the club, members came together to launch the Flashback Weekend that is the largest, free car show in Manitoba.

In describing the volunteer effort that pulled off that first highly successful Fifties Flashback car show at the Thunderbird, Reid Dewbury said “A year ago, we didn’t even know each other, now we’re like a family.” And it is a very good thing that all these years later that sentiment is often repeated amongst today’s membership.

In successive issues, The Customline documents the vibrant life of the club as it took on the police car as its mascot, implemented the Ford line and later the website, improved its financial position, began to support local charities and added other club events such as World of Wheels and additional member services such as the annual Events Schedule. And the list goes on and on.

We could never do justice to all the various events and activities recorded in The Customline. But hopefully your curiosity is sufficiently engaged that you will spend a pleasant afternoon or evening skimming through the life and times of the Fabulous 50s. The website can be found at: www. fabulous50sford.com If you have forgotten the password to get into the “Members Only” sections of the web- site, contact your activities coordinator, or email info@fabulous50sford.com

It’s been a heck of a ride so far. And, while our roots are firmly planted in a shared love of 50’s Fords, today the club spirit embraces all who love the Fabulous 50s era and the cars we loved to drive then and now.

Amen to that!

 


 


 
 

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