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SHOW STOPPERS

I admit, I’m timid around people in costume. I didn’t walk up to Beth and Bill until the third time I attended Stowe. I just had to tell them thank you for the extra something special that they bring to the car show. It takes guts (though it seemed natural to them) and work to do what they have done for so many years.

David Stuursma – Editor

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Show Stoppers by Bill Jouris

Beth and I were at the first British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont, 28 years ago. We have since attended 27 of them. For the first ten years Beth would drive the minivan with out twins, Brian and Lisa, and I would follow in the Morgan. For the nearly four hour drive we were incommunicado, a lonely drive indeed. In those early years I only made it all the way to the motel once without trouble. Typically it was some little issue that would stop me cold with only ten miles to go. I know I’m not alone holding my breath until I’m less than 100 miles from my destination and AAA towing would be covered. Eventually, I got smart and bought a car dolly. These days we tow the Morgan to Stowe so we can all be together for the trip up and back.

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In the early days, the British Invasion filled a dead zone in the Stowe tourist season between the busy summer and the fall leaf-peeping season. As the popularity of the car show grew, so did the town’s support of the British sports car. The kick-off party Friday night on Main Street is a spectacular, well-attended event.

Beginning in the early days, we participated in the Sunday “Tailgate Picnic Contest.” While others were creating elaborate displays of food, we went a different route. Beth and I dressed up.

While I cannot remember all the themes over the years, the ones I remember were: a WWI Royal Air Force Officer with a WWI nurse; Hercule Poirot and his secretary, Miss Lemon; Robin Hood and Maid Marian; a couple aboard the Titanic; a man and woman punting on the Thames; Henry VIII and Ann Bolin; two Beefeaters (the first year that women were allowed to serve); Shakespeare and Ann Hathaway; Lawrence of Arabia and his lady; Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter; Sherlock Holmes and his landlady, Mrs. Hudson; and others which escape me at the moment.

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Initially we would make costumes with clothing we already owned and could easily convert. As we progressed, we couldn’t very well come up with themes for which we had suitable clothing and had to start renting costumes. For our last picnic I actually bought costumes, as the cost to rent and ship them was higher than the cost to buy them! The upshot to our effort was that we won the prize for best costume every year and frequently the prize for “Most British” as well.

On the 25th British Invasion we decided to take a rest. Each year we had racked our brains to come up with a theme and all the accouterments. This isn’t to say that Beth and I don’t come prepared to join the fun. I have been wearing a handlebar mustache for nearly forty years now and have smoked a pipe for over sixty years. These two traits make me easily recognizable and memorable at such events. A couple of years ago they started giving a prize for the man with the most British hat. With the collection I’ve accumulated, I’ve won nearly every year.

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The Morgan is a 1962 4/4 Roadster that I bought as a wreck for $300. I spent six months putting it into drivable condition, but I would definitely not call it “restored.” If I should ever win the lottery, rebuilding the Morgan is near the top of the list for use of the money.

As for Beth and I, we have been married for 57 years. We met and married in a south suburban Chicago town called Harvey, IL. When I returned to college to finish a degree at MIT, we moved to the Boston area and have been here ever since. We bought a log home in Littleton, MA in 1969—the same year I bought the Morgan—and although we have lived elsewhere in the country and around the world, we’ve always returned to our log house in Littleton.

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