In this age of cruel economics, Bob Croslin and his group, the Pin Mar Antique Car Club, want to make sure we don't forget "the age of innocence.''
"I call pre-1959 an innocent time,'' said the 61-year-old. "America was simpler and people were kinder."
In order to secure those golden memories, Pin Mar is once again hosting the Heritage Village Antique Car Show. The event, slated for Saturday, will feature more than 100 vintage automobiles and motorcycles, all built before 1959.
For 23 years, Croslin and the group have organized a yearly show that takes place amid the historic structures of Pinellas County's Heritage Village.
In years past, Pin Mar would spend $3,000 to $4,000 to put on the show, but would recoup much of the money through multiple event sponsors, said Croslin, who has coordinated the car show since its inception.
With money tight this year, the only other sponsor will be AAA, he said.
"We see our relationship with Heritage Village as a public/private partnership, and we will recoup some of this money back by selling Cokes in the old-fashioned bottles (for $1) at the general store," Croslin said. "Last year, we sold more than 700 bottles. Also, visitors making donations at the gate will help offset costs and help fund restoration projects through 2009.''
Along with the display of vehicles, scheduled activities include swing dancing, folk music and the official dedication of the 1917 LaFrance Fire Engine, used at the Belleview Biltmore Hotel until 1934. Owners of the cars and bikes will be dressed in period costumes and mingle with the guests.
If it weren't for the Pin Mar Antique Car Club, projects like refurbishing the fire engine, as well as a planned project to restore the much-loved Seaboard Coast Line Caboose in the western area of the property, wouldn't happen, said Ellen Babb, Heritage Village museum operations manager.
"Heritage Village has worked with Pin Mar since 1988," Babb said. "They've been responsible for helping us restore the mercantile store and garage, donating artifacts and the restoration of so many vehicles.
"Right now during these times, we need to stress the importance of this kind of relationship.
Croslin plans on displaying his own cars, a 1956 Thunderbird and 1929 Model A Ford. The crowd can expect to see an assortment of Model T's as well as a 1912 Cadillac.
"There's also a possibility that we'll have a 1909 Stanley Steamer,'' Croslin said. "Last year, even though it rained, a gentleman drove it up from Nokomis (in Sarasota County). Can you imagine? He drove in rain over the Sunshine Skyway. It would be good to see him again.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.