This goose chase was for real…
“Super Snipe?” Old Doc had to be kidding. Sure, some birds carry the name “snipe,” but like most former boy scouts I remembered only the pain of being duped into a ritual “snipe hunt” on my first troop campout. (Future Scouts avert your eyes to preserve your coming initiation.)
When Jean and I first married, her grandparents lived in tiny Juneau, Wisconsin. We flew there from Indiana by Cessna 172 to visit them as often as our newlyweds’ budget would allow. Our usual mission was to hang out with family, but once a year we’d bundle into Grandpa’s car after landing for a multigenerational road trip to “the Oshkosh fly-in.”
I soon joined another annual excursion thanks to Gramps and Granny’s next-door neighbors, “Doc” and Marge. Doc was a large-animal veterinarian who over the years had liberated numerous collectible cars from dusty corners of his patients’ barns. Among them were a sporty 1939 Ford business coupe, a pair of fin-tailed 1955 Plymouths, and a bulbous ’51 Pontiac Eight. Although hardly rare, all were low-mileage cars and notably rust-free given Wisconsin’s brutal winters.
Doc also mentioned something about a “Humber Super Snipe,” but I figured he was pulling my leg. After all, “snipe hunt” is a slang equivalent to “wild goose chase,” and Doc was a master of straight-faced ribbing.
Doc’s own favorite ride was a good-enough-to-eat 1941 Lincoln Zephyr convertible – he’d share keys to his other autos, but reserved the Zephyr for himself.
I’d long been interested in old cars, ever since conducting unprintable adventures in those owned by friends and I during high school. Anyway, it turned out that every year Doc took all his roadworthy cars on a 100-mile pilgrimage from Juneau to the annual “Chicken Roast and Old Car Show” in the yet-smaller town of Iola. To my delight Doc invited me to drive one of his cars in the upcoming procession.
Accordingly Jean and I loaded friends into a flying club Cessna and soared over Indiana cornfields, Chicago suburbs, and Wisconsin meadows to Juneau’s Dodge County Airport…
**READ GREG’S ENTIRE COLUMN, “SNIPE HUNT“**
Top photo: Doc’s cars line up for the Iola run: the Pontiac Eight, the Super Snipe, a ’55 Plymouth, and around the corner, the Lincoln Zephyr.
Lower photo: Doc’s 1963 Humber Super Snipe. (Paul Luebke photo.)
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2016 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!