I (Dave Stoker) have been chosen to record the history of the 7 Valley Street Rods as best as I can remember. The club was the idea of 6 guys who got together one afternoon at Ron Zachary’s Garage in Scott , New York and started to lay the ground work,. Those in attendance were : Ron Zachary Jay Morris - 1932 ford 5 Window Coupe, Dave Johnson- 1933 Chevy Sedan, Darwin Johnson - 1937 Ford Coupe, Dick Stoker - 1940 Ford Deluxe 2 Door Sedan Dave Stoker - 1940 Ford Deluxe 2 Door Sedan.
The idea of the Club came about after Ron Zachary had painted two or three of the cars and we all started hanging around together. It was decided that we would hold another meeting and invite 3 other guys who had cars in the area to the next meeting. They were Dave Cardner- 1932 Ford 5 window Coupe Gary Mead- 1936 Ford Coupe Ron Weibly.
This meeting would be held at Jay Morris’s dad, Floyd’s down in Glen Haven. At this meeting the name of the Club came about and was decided to be called 7 Valley Street Rods, the logo for the club was to be a 1932 Ford Roadster. We decided we needed some Club Officers and the first group was chosen. Ron Zachary---President, Jay Morris -------Vice President, Dick Stoker -----Secretary, Dave Stoker---- Treasurer, Dave Johnson-- Sergeant of Arms. To the best of my knowledge, this was in the summer of 1972.
In the fall of 1972, we started inviting friends that each of us knew to join the club and some of the early members were Jim Hoy, Dana Christy, Gerry Seamens, Doug Clark, Floyd Morris, Francis Weeks, Doug Bloodgood, Darrell Cottom, and John Ripley.
The Club’s main purpose was to get people with the love of the automobile together for a good time; boy did we have a good time. It seems that all of the original members and those that followed were into the party mode!
We started going to inside Car Shows in the fall of 1974. I’m quit sure, the first show we did was the Autorama in Binghamton. We went with Jay Morris’s 1932 Ford Coupe ,Darwin Johnson’s 1937 Ford Coupe ,Dick & Dave Stoker’s 1940 Ford 2Door Deluxe Sedan, Dana Christy’s Dart and Harry Bower’s Chevy Pickup. We went with a Club Display Theme of “ 7 Valley Street Rods Has Gone Bananas “, We had some large cut outs of bananas , some large blow up Bananas, and I think about 15 cases of bananas to give away at the show. As I remember all of the cars placed well with some of us even winning in our individual classes, but the most important thing was we started our string of Best Club Displays. As I recall we used this display at one or two other shows that season with the same winning results.
The next year we decided on another theme that being a Moonshine Display. This display had a campfire with a Still set up on it. We even build a full sized, single hole Outhouse, and our fence was made up of Beer Kegs and log fence. All of us dressed in bib overalls, shaggy beards and old hillbilly hats , as the show season went by we added things like a full size fiberglass horse, that I borrowed from my Uncle Ross Kniffen at the Buck N Bum Western shop in Homer.
As the news of our success grew, so did our membership. The first year we went to the show in Rochester we had a slight scare , it seems that the local Hells Angels Motorcycle Club had won the Best of Show for several years and we were worried that they might not like our participation, but by the end of the show they had come up and wished us well. In the year 1976 the club display was a Bicentennial Theme. This was one of our most extensive displays I think we built. We had a Liberty Bell cast out a paper Mache, a Cannon, old and new Flags. A fence with base plates that looked like The United States with rails painted Red-White-and Blue. All the members were dressed in uniforms with some dressed as well known people, Ron Zackary dressed as Abe Lincoln, Dale “Red” Darling as Uncle Sam and Gary Volpielli dressed as a union solder.
The first show of the season was again in Binghamton with the same result, Best Club Display. We added things all season with other members getting into costumes as well. I think the next Display was a Graveyard /Halloween type thing .We had graves laid up out of large stones with Show Card Headstones, a mad science unit with a large computer board and a Jacob’s ladder. Members again dressed in costume with some really weird masks. We continued inside shows for one more year, during that time we had done shows in Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, Malone, Utica, Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Herkimer. When we stopped doing the indoor shows, we had the Best of Show Award for close to 30 straight shows, which would probably be a record for Central New York Shows.
During the last part of the 70’s and early part of the 80’s the Club kind of drifted apart, some of the younger members were getting married and starting families and car projects and the Club took second or third stage .There were a few of us that started going to National Shows , NSRA , GoodGuys and later Right Coast Shows. Some of the guys that were doing these were Dick & Dave Stoker, Gary Volpicelli, Alan Mitchell. This kind of held the Club together in the mid 80’s; we went to shows together but didn’t have any meetings.
In 1988 I started a small speed shop of my own called 3 D Custom Auto Accessories and again talked about getting the Club back together, the ones involved in this effort were: Dick & Dave Stoker, Kevin Goodwin, Ron Weibly, Alan Mitchell, Doug Bloodgood, Gerry Seamens.
Since we still had a balance in the Club bank account we tried to get some of the old members interested in restarting the Club. Some were interested and some were involved in other things and family and some had gotten rid of their cars and decided that it wasn’t the time to get back in. About this same time I met a salesman from a body parts / paint store in Syracuse, his name was Dick Springs, he found out that I was with 7 Valley Street Rods and he was in the process of starting an Association in Syracuse of Clubs in the Central NY area. We talked some of the same ideas and finally me and 4 or 5 other guys went up to the meetings and some of the ideas we heard sounded good to us and the other clubs that attended, thus was formed the Central New York Car Club Association Inc. One of the members in the Corvette Club was a corporate lawyer and he talked to us one night about the benefits and problems of not being incorporated and soon after we decided it would be wise to incorporate, which we did.
Back in 1978 Dick & I started going to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals every year, we missed the one in Tulsa in 1979 but went to Memphis Tn the following year with Garry Volpicelli and Alan Mitchell , boy the stories that could be told from that trip . From 1980,we attended 19 consecutive years at the NSRA Nat’s. During the many years of traveling to the Nat’s we befriended many people and all eventually became members of the club. Let me see if I can remember everyone; Garry & Brenda Volpicelli, Alan & Donna Mitchell & Girls, Ron & Ethel Weibly & Jason, Kevin & Cindy Goodwin, Gary & Sharion Switzer, Billy & Maryann & Elizabeth Povero, Kenny & Cheryl Davis, Rick Edwards, Butch & Debbie Ayers, Doug & Maryellen Bloodgood, Alan & Jackie Mitchell, Fran & Maryann Aloisio, Richie Sharp & Dan Boles, Alvin & Linda Parker, Gerry & Barb Seamens, Jim & Michelle Ball, Les Wainman. All of these people ended up being active or long distance members, a great group to run with.We have been to a lot of great places: Columbus Ohio, Memphis TN, St. Paul Mn., Louisville Ky., Oklahoma City OK, Syracuse NY, Rhinebeck NY., Springfield Ma., York Pa., Timmonium Md., Burlington Vt., Tampa Fl., Knoxville Tenn.
In 1991 Dick & I & the Club lost one of our greatest friends “Ron Weibly” to cancer. He was a friend to everyone and if you ever needed help doing something Ron was the first to lend a helping hand, so in honor of Ron we decided to change the Logo of the Club from a 1932 Ford Roadster to the current logo.
I came up with the idea shortly after Ron’s passing, working with a local artist Brian Bancroft we came up with this design. The top of the 7 was going to be his 1940 Willys with the leg being a road running down thru Valley Street Rods. I think Ron would have been very happy.
In 1992 The Club decided to put on a car show , the 1st one we held in the Cortland State Parking lot on Tompkins Street , this worked out well, but their was no way to control spectator admission so the next two years we held it at the Yellow Lantern Camp Grounds with a similar problem, being the on sight campers. So the following year we contacted Cortlandville, and we have been using Cortlandville Citizens Park on the 3rd Sunday in August ever since. We have had a couple of cruzin’s the last 2 years, the first being at the new Hotel. And Convention Center at Greek Peak and the 2nd at the Cortland County Airport, rain killed both of these events and will have to be looked at again.
From the time we started the second edition of the Club, we became involved in helping the community. The club decided we would help a needy family in the area at Christmas. Depending on how much money we had on hand, we have at times, helped 3 families. At one of our meetings we decided to sponsor someone from the Automotive Class at BOCES to a scholarship fund, which we did for several years. We also give money to Catholic Charities and Loaves and Fishes. In recent history we have also given to Hospice Caring Community of Cortland and Bridges for Kids through the YWCA. A ballpark figure on money given to these Charities is around $30,000.00.
In 2000 the Car Club Association of Central New York was approached by Bob O’Connor and Fred Fibiger to help work at the 1st Syracuse Nationals. It was decided that some of the clubs would work in certain locations on the fair grounds. 7 Valley Street Rods chose to work the entry gate for cars coming in, which we were very successful in doing. We did this job so well, we were asked to man that gate the following 13 years, and hopefully will continue to do this as long as they have the Nat’s. Over the 13years the club has had a real blast and have met a lot of people and made some new friends. For the first few years for our working the gate, the Right Coast Association made donations to a group of Charities that were picked by the Car Club Association. At some point the Association felt this was a conflict between Right Coast and the Association, and the 10 car clubs that had volunteered. Some clubs remained working with Right Coast and helped them as our own club. We are still involved with the Car Club Association of Central New York, but now the money is given directly to the clubs, to give to the charities of there choosing. By doing this it allowed the clubs to keep this money in their respective areas.
For several years the club didn’t have a President or Vice-President, everyone had taken a turn in those positions and didn’t want to sit again. We ran the club with a steering group, if a member had some new ideas; you had the floor and voiced them. In 2009 one of our old members who had come back into the club and approached me and said he had some ideas and would like to apply for the Presidents position at the start of the new year. I’ve known Mike Cute since the early 70’s and knew he would do a great job. In June of that year we voted in 2 officers: Mike Cute -President, Les Wainman- Vice President, Dick Stoker-Secretary / 40 year term, Martin Knobel- Treasuer
In the 2 years that Mike was the President, he had more than doubled our membership and every member seemed to be in a much better mood. I think we had fallen into a period of just getting by and Mike gave us a tremendous spark, which the club needed again. Under Mike’s lead we also went through the Constituion and made several changes that should have been done several years ago. Mike stepped down after his 2nd term for personal reasons, but remains a strong club member.
In January of 2012 Les Wainman took over as President with Keith Standish as vice-President. They have continued to keep the club moving forward in a positive direction and hopefully this trend will carry the club into the next 40 years.
Currently (2014) the Board Members are: Chris Dewey - President, Roger Sickmon - Vice-President , Dick Stoker - Secretary , , Martin Knobel - Treasurer, Les Wainman , Paul Dries - Sargent at Arms, Dave Stoker , Alan Mitchell , Doug Bloodgood , and Rick Edwards.
~ Dave Stoker