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Car club gives subtle recognition to former member

News editor

In the flyer being used to promote the 18th edition of its annual car show June 11 in Hillsboro, those in the know will find tributes from Route 56 Classic Cruisers to one of its former beloved members.

The first is obvious — a picture of the former Vickers gas station on D. St. has the name Ray Abrahams written in the upper right corner.

“That was his gas station,” Kim Abrahams said. “Byron Unruh, he and my dad built that. They ran a gas station and a propane service out of there.”

Kim Abrahams is president of Route 56 Classic Cruisers, and he said that past practice allowed for the tribute to his father, an original club member, who died in April 2015.

“What we’ve done in the past, we’ll go around to different places in town and use those for the backdrop,” he said. “The gas station on Main St. across from the Ford garage, we’ve used that.”

The second tribute is more subtle — one of the three cars pictured is the 1932 Chevrolet Cabriolet that was Ray Abrahams’ pride and joy.

“He bought it from the original owner in 1962 and he had it completely restored in ’64,” Abrahams said. “It was in good shape, but it had to be completely redone. Once he had it repainted, he let me crawl underneath to scrape the grease off. I would’ve been 10 years old then.”

Ray’s interest in cars rubbed off on Kim and his brother Rex.

“It influenced me a lot,” Abrahams said. “I’ve always been into cars. As years have gone by, my brother has more cars than I do. It’s a pretty good collection.”

About 20 years ago, Abrahams, Mike Duerksen, and Rick Moss were going to car shows together when they decided to start Route 56 Classic Cruisers.

The idea of having a car show in Hillsboro came a couple of years later. Interest was good, but numbers have slipped in recent years.

“Probably the most we’ve ever had is 120,” Abrahams said. “We had about 50 cars at the show last year.”

Abrahams attributed the decline to the proliferation of car shows in recent years, noting that Peabody and Florence have started monthly cruises. Organizations doing shows as fundraisers has become common.

Fewer young drivers are getting involved with car clubs and shows because of expense and other interests, Abrahams said.

“That’s been a joke here lately,” he said. “All of us look at each other, and you notice there’s always white-haired guys or gray beards. We can’t hardly get younger people. The kids aren’t car-oriented anymore.”

Abrahams said he would be pleased to get 100 participants for the Hillsboro event, but he doesn’t want it to be much bigger than that.

Keeping it small allows the club to continue having show winners take a victory lap around the circle drive in Memorial Park, a tradition few other shows have, Abrahams said.

There’s a new tradition, too, one that will keep Ray part of the show.

“We do a memorial plaque,” Abrahams said. “It’s for the car that he would’ve liked to have seen win. The family, we pick that car out. Normally he liked older original cars. He didn’t like hot rods.”

The entry fee for the show is $15 and a can of food. The money is donated to Marion County Toy run, and the food goes to either Marion County Resource Center and Food Bank or the Mainstreet Ministries food bank.

“We do this thing for fun,” Abrahams said. “We just give all that money back to the county. It’s not always a lot, but it’s a little bit that we can help to contribute.”

Registration is from 8 a.m. to noon June 11 at Memorial Park, and awards will be presented at 3:30 p.m. More information is available by calling Abrahams at (620) 947-2484.

Last modified May 25, 2016

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