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Traveling Through Time in Ypsilanti

We had great weather and fun with about 22 members joining in for some history lessons. Our gathering point was Vanguard Motor Sales. I thank them for providing coffee and donuts for us. They are no strangers to having tour groups coming in and welcoming them all. I picked up one of their brochures at the M1 Concours. They had much more than I expected. Their first building had about 35 high-end cars going through some repairs, restoration, and reasonable modifications. Their second building had about 100 cars all cleaned up, restored, and up for sale. Many of us said that we had or knew of one of those cars years ago. You can see their inventory and operations on their website at www.vanguardmotorsales.com.


From there it was about a 12-mile drive to the Yankee Air Museum, located on the grounds of Willow Run Airport. We had a docent tour arranged to show us around. Their space is limited, but they carefully use everything that they have available. The displays were informative, and they covered the basics of just about every aspect of the displayed planes and helicopters. When I was last there in 2002, they had a very large old wooden hanger. That later burned down with almost everything inside. They have been rebuilding ever since. They did manage to purchase a wing of the original B-24 bomber factory. Unfortunately, with asbestos and other things it cannot currently be occupied by people, so they store some of their planes there. They are also using another hanger for storing planes and they are operating out of a basic modern hanger.


Back on the road to the Bomber Restaurant in Ypsilanti. This restaurant served the B-24 factory workers way back when they were building B24’s. It is a very basic diner with a lot of history and memorabilia. Everyone who goes there has a good time and good food.


Then to the Michigan Firehouse Museum. They have part of a historic firehouse with a large addition for the rest of the multi-level museum. There were probably a dozen antique fire engines and equipment showing how the people and equipment fought fires back in the 1800’s. It was very well put together and presented.


Our final stop was the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. This was adjoining a building that used to be an old Hudson dealership. The dealership changed since it closed. The Parts Dept still had parts stocked on the shelves and in bins. There were about 50 cars on display and other displays showing different aspects of the cars or features. Everyone had a very good time. I was hearing about living in the Detroit area all my life and I never knew these places existed. This was a very sentimental trip for me personally. It was Veterans Day. We owe so much to those who served. My father was a B17 pilot and served three tours of duty in Northern Africa and Italy during WWII. He had several tenuous situations. On both of our trips with JAGM to the Yankee Air Museum, I donated some of my father’s wartime memorabilia to the Museum. They were happy to get it and I am happy that it will be honored forever.


Our day had beautiful weather just like some previous trips. Frank Koslowski was JAGM’s Activities Director through 2002. He and Gary Hershoren ran a tour of Yesterday’s Collection, a private car museum in Jackson in the Fall of 2002. The weather was just as bright and sunny as our Fall trip. In addition, Frank ran a trip in June 2001 to 3 of our five stops. I started out duplicating his efforts. He made my job a lot easier. They all may have been looking down on us to give us a beautiful Fall drive activity and camaraderie I won’t forget the Vets and my past friends and family.


Bob Matejek

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