Reunion - September 3-5, 2002
|A Parader's Reunion was held on September 3-5, 2002, in Saugatuck, Michigan. Following are some excerpts from that event.|
PARADER'S 50TH REUNION
Below: The Paraders were all given complementary caps and asked to pose for a photograph in front of the work-stall where the Futurliner is being restored.
With all the preparations being made the Futurliner Restoration
volunteers were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Paraders and their
wives. Ron and his wife had decorated all the tables with flowers. Most of
the volunteers brought along their old cars. Howard had provided a tent
and a 50's Coke A Cola soft drink cooler (a big one).
from Jerry L Sigler who is working on the Futurliner
project and attended the reunion.
Following are a couple of things learned and discussed at the Paraders reunion.
Raffee Johns was telling me how his job was to drive the station wagon that carried the lunches for the paraders but occasionally he would drive the Futurliner. He was also talking about while driving out west up and down the mountains, and to enable him to get up the next hill, he would have to floor board down a hill. Apparently the Futurliner would vibrate to the point that he is amazed that he was not in the ditch.
One gentleman was telling me that all paraders had to have a drivers license before they could be hired and there was a Joe Petrocik from Pennsylvania that had never driven so he was taken to the police station at 7 Mile and Woodward where a cop took him on a tour through the park then gave him his license.
All drivers were warned not to pump their air brakes or they would lose pressure and ultimately the brakes. Joe was going down a mountain driving # 6 and got too close to # 5. He got excited and because of lack of experience forgot and started pumping the brake. After losing them he ran into the back of # 5, knocked the axle forward and blew out the tires. He also destroyed the front of # 6. Needless to say Joe had to wear the football helmet that the person with the latest accident always had to wear.
Conrad Vaughan said he has a key to the door of the liner and would mail it to us.
I believe it was Raffee Johns that was telling me that the generator that was just rebuilt was never used because they had the diesel generator truck that supplied all their power.
Someone was also telling me that the back of one of the liners was an office and it had doors that slid out like slide outs on current day RV's.
from Wally Snow
Bob Harris mentioned that, "Futurliners were most awkward vehicle ever built." He said that the driver had to stand up in the cab and look to front and sides before moving the vehicle. It was easy to hit cars broadside or sideswipe them and the mass of bus was so great that you didnít feel the collision.
Harry Hardenbrook recalls that about ten years ago he saw a "C" grade movie with vampires etc. which had about four minutes with a Futurliner in it. Someone else verified this, but no further info.
When in town, busses drove ten feet apart but could see nothing but the vehicle ahead and many small collisions occurred because of this. Harry gave us part of his speech from the floor of our bus with the doors open.
John Conroy recalled the convoy was directed by FM radio from the lead car or truck, "Number xx pull up closer" etc. Drivers hated this as they had receivers only and could not talk back. Entry level job was to pickup paper etc. from the show-grounds with a nail on the end of a stick.
Tony Gagliardi had public relations degree and always drove bus no. 1. At towns, he would pick up reporters or officials. He handled radio interviews and always announced that 60 young and single college grads were in town. Girls attended in droves. The guys had money and could use the parade cars for dates. Some girls would follow a guy from town to town and were called camp followers. Town police were rewarded for their escort services with packs of playing cards, cash or sometimes just a handshake.
Ed Harben started with tour in 1953 as a maintenance and repair guy. His biggest problem was lack of any waterproof wiring on engines. Dew would form on the wires overnight and prevent the vehicle from starting. He used a carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher to dry them off. Futurliners needing updating or repairs to their displays would be driven to the display builder Stubbs in Detroit. The Futurliner with the Diesel exhibit was driven to Detroit Diesel Engine Division for updating of the exhibit.
Ray Boroviak said he sometimes drove a Futurliner and other times a truck that carrier the 60 steamer trunks with Paraders possessions in them. The trunks were taken to and from hotels for distribution by bellboys. The low seniority guys, with little shifting experience, drove the vehicles with automatic transmissions. He remembers gas filler neck as being at rear of vehicle. When the tour went to Canada 10 French guys were hired to work and interpret along the way.
Bob Hunter remembers meeting many dignitaries and other famous people along the way. Also recalls that some of the displays were not GM products.
Thanks so much for your hospitality for the Paraders. It was a wonderful visit & enjoyed by everyone. You have taken on a monumental task & have accomplished so much. All the workers should feel pleased that so much has come from so little! My husband, Dick, was on the Parade in 1954-1955.
Thanks again to both you & your wife.
I'm looking forward to the next reunion.
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