Purchasing the Gamewell fire box led to an unexpected pleasure. While making arrangements to pick it up in Charlotte, NC, the seller suggested it would be worth my wife and I taking a short side trip to look at Uncle Dallas’ collection of pedal cars and memorabilia. He promised that we wouldn’t be disappointed. We decided to take him up on the offer.
Uncle Dallas and his wife Helen were awaiting our arrival as we pulled up next to an unattached garage adjacent to their house. It was clear from the first few moments that these two genuinely nice folks had a passion for collecting. We immediately felt comfortable in their company.
Dallas opened the tour with a walk through the garage that featured numerous automotive memorabilia on the walls, a large display of model cars, a beautiful Cushman scooter, a restored pedal car with working head lights, and three or four other pedal cars. Although the pedal cars were very nicely done, there were only a few of them. There has to be more than these based on the description we had been given. Patience would be well rewarded.
Dallas is rightfully proud of all of his collectibles, but he has a special place for his restored bright yellow 1939 Ford convertible. The car is a street rod that has a family history and many touring miles and awards under its hood. Dallas explained that a lot of the paint and body work was done by a fellow at nearby NASCAR famous Hendrick Motorsports. The paint, engine compartment and interior were immaculate and belied the fact that he had put more than a hundred thousand miles on the odometer. Magazine covers and articles featuring the car where proudly displayed on the garage walls. The car was deserving of the attention it had received.
Dallas and his wife then escorted us to a small building toward the back of his property that he had made into an old-fashioned general store. On the covered front porch stood two rocking chairs and inside awaited a G Scale model train that ran around the ceiling, a corn husking machine, lockable mail cubicles, a counter with a cash register, an old wall mounted telephone and countless other smaller items that one would expect to find lining the selves in an old local store.
As we left the store we relaxed for a short time in the rocking chairs on the front porch and enjoyed Dallas’ reminiscing about the history of items in his collection.
Walking back toward the garage, we passed a restored circa 1950’s gas station island. On the raised concrete island, Dallas had mounted two gas pumps, an air meter, an oil can rack and a large overhead Texaco gas sign. When I asked Dallas if it all worked, his response was, “Everything works.” I would ask that same question as we continued our tour only to get the same answer. After a while even I figured out that there was no need to ask again.
While still wondering where all the pedal cars were, Dallas directed us toward a large enclosed auto transport trailer. As he pulled down the rear ramp, it became clear that the trailer was the home to his collection of pedal cars. Neatly arranged three shelves high on each side and the end of the trailer were probably forty or so beautifully restored vintage pedal cars. As Dallas led us through the trailer he described the restoration process on some of his special projects. He explained that restoring the small cars was very much like the restoration of a full size vehicle. It required pounding out dents, patching bodywork, finding parts, re-chroming trim, painting and pin striping.
The collection included not only cars, but also an airplane, fire trucks,a train engine, a boat and a replica Cadillac called Kidillac. Under each vehicle was a small sign that identified it. The trailer had been a mobile pedal car museum that had been enjoyed by many over the years. Dallas added that the value of the cars ranged as high as $30,000. And, not to be reminded, every one of them worked as originally designed.
It’s hard to imagine the hours that went into restoring the miniature cars in the trailer. Dallas’ excitement when describing some of the extraordinary samples was as enjoyable as the cars themselves.
It never ceases to amaze me as to what people have in their garages and back yards. We considered ourselves lucky to have had the pleasure of spending a morning enjoying the treasures found at the home of Helen and Dallas.