MGA Mid-Atlantic Chapter

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2009 Chili Party

March 15, 2009

It was a drizzly mid-afternoon on March 15th. Try as it might, the Sun's outline barely silhouetted behind the overcast sky. On the rain-coated trees, the occasional misting had licked eager young buds to a glossy sheen. In the far off distance, the echoing sound of returning Canada Geese announced Winterís sojourn and of the promise of Spring. Such a cold afternoon day belied a great gathering taking place at the annual meeting indoors.

Arriving at a little half past three, we walked past a row of cars street-side, up past the Marshalls' red MGB GT parked in Toby and Helen Fitzkees' expansive U-shaped driveway. The house is a two-story sandstone contemporary with a well manicured lawn. "Very good," we mused, no one else had driven their As in this wet weather. Toby answered the door with a polite howdy-doo. Immediately, numerous "hellos" and "welcomes" beset our entrance into the foyer. Looking westward from the foyer, past (on the left) a small table topped with MGA paraphernalia, sat the living room. To our right, the delightful smell of chili wafting in the kitchen air beckoned. Unseen by us, on a small separating wall between the foyer and living room hung one of day's three "contests," ingeniously created by Butch and Judy Smith. For those who attended past meetings, the other two contests were a repeat of the proverbial favorites, indentify the miscellaneous items. Helen's "Ladies Kitchen Box" had everyday and not-so-everyday kitchen tools that many a brave men dove into. Also on the living room coffee table stood John Padgett's two-and-half-foot high, custom made, octagonal shaped, MG box containing miscellaneous "A" parts, supplied by Keith Kallapos. Members had to lift a flap and slip their hand into the small opening and feel about to identify. Various hands groped inside the box and the occasional knowing smile signaled who knew the right answer.

We eventually had around 30 members milling about. John and Linda Wright, Martha Anne and Terry King, Bill and Kathy Wemhoff, Larry and Diana Newman and Ken and Joyce Lawrence were all mixing and mingling. On the couch sat Kelsey Kallapos, Amy Rothberg, and Dick and Cheryl Farwell busily attacking the "can you guess what" boxes. Helen, with the help of Karen Marshall and Kathy Kallapos, zipped in and out of the kitchen setting up the nine chili crock pots in anticipation of what proved to be a very heated contest, no pun intended. Mike and Lisa Eaton arrived with all three sons in tow to add to the family ambiance.

The Awards Presentation got under way with Toby announcing the winners of the Chili Competition. Kathy Wemhoff took first place with her full flavored "Number 6" chili entry. Liz Ten Eyck narrowly took second place. Butch bowed to his betters accepting his third place finish and vowed to make a triumphal comeback next year. "The king shall return!" Butch jokingly intoned. Helen then took us through the contents of the Kitchen Box which held a few items that seemed to stump everyone. The Kitchen Box winners were Liz, Martha Anne and Cheryl, who were awarded bottles of wine as trophies by Helen and Toby.

Next, to the entertainment of all Keith and Kelsey took center stage with a colorful recitation, meticulously identifying one by one all the "A" parts in John's mystery box. To no one's surprise, John Wright took first place, correctly identifying most of the 25 or so parts. Mike Eaton and Butch Smith came in second and third, respectively. John was overheard remarking that Mike would need to get up a little earlier in the morning if he expected to dethrone John next year.

Equally challenging was the trivia quiz framed on the wall. A combination of fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions stumped many players. To abundant adulation, Terry and Martha Anne stood and accepted first place, proving once again their mental prowess. Dick Farwell and Bill Marshall also proved they, too, were no mental lightweights by cinching second and third place.

Rounding out the evening, Chairman Bill presented Martha with an engraved clock provided by NAMGAR honoring Bill and Martha Ludtke for receiving the Renkenberger Spirit Award for their service to the Mid Atlantic Chapter. This was an emotional event with Bill no longer with us. Fond recollections of Bill spontaneously erupted from many Chapter members who were touched by Bill's kindness and friendship over the years. Bill will be greatly missed by all.

By unanimous acclamation, Bill, Liz, and Martha were duly elected to another year's tenure as club chairman, vice chairman, and secretary-treasurer. With that, the meeting drew to a close. Toby and Helen's graciousness in inviting everyone into their home made this year's meeting one of the best ever. Who would have thought four and half hours could pass so quickly and be so fleeting? Tight hugs and firm handshakes were exchanged as the membership filed outside for home. The early evening air revealed an almost cloudless sky. The earlier wetness had almost all evaporated. Could this be a harbinger of a great driving season ahead?

- Reported by Tran Vi

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