The Spark
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by Joe Dowley
Club President


“Good judgement comes from experience-
And a lot of that comes from bad judgement.”

- Will Rogers

During the difficult days of the Great Depression and before, Will Rogers kept America laughing and nodding in agreement as he humorously put forth his wise observations. In these times it would be so nice to have Will’s informed sense of humor around to help us navigate…

As this column is being written (May 15th) most of our country is in the midst of deciding to--or attempting to--move towards a more “normal”, pre-Covid 19 way of life despite cautions being urged by many scientists and health professionals. The staggering economy, a desire to be freer than “stay-at-home” rules allow, and gnawing anxieties are just some of the factors pushing this move to more familiar territory.

In spite of the trend towards “normalcy”, the state and local government leaders in our Club’s region have signaled a delayed entry into this new/old environment. Suburban Maryland and northern Virginia leaders are taking different paths from the relaxation of restrictions that will apply in other parts of those states. This comes as D.C., the Maryland suburbs and northern Virginia continue to experience (as of mid-May) rising numbers of cases of novel coronavirus, with estimates that the crest of the pandemic might not occur here until mid-June or possibly later--even as most of us still “stay at home”. The chief worry is that if we move too quickly to open things up we risk enveloping our health care frontlines in new caseloads that are too numerous to handle. This, in turn, might lead to more, perhaps unnecessary, economic damage and personal pain. Unquestionably, these are hard times.

“When I die, I want to die like
my grandfather who died
peacefully in his sleep.
Not screaming like all
the passengers in his car...
- Will Rogers

In light of this, the Club’s Board will, this month, take a realistic look at our activities going forward into the fall with the goal of making some decisions while it is still timely to do so. We welcome your views on subjects like whether to conduct events such as the Hunt Country Classic and the Braille Rallye only in the formats we’ve followed in the past, or not at all. Or, whether it is acceptable, maybe even desirable, to make efforts to adapt to new requirements imposed by Covid 19 in order to have events in 2020. If we take the latter route one of our key considerations will be whether Club Members will be able to feel safe participating—safe enough to want to attend. We’ll be guided by what local jurisdictions permit, what the health experts are saying, and, by the advice and information we get from you. So, please don’t be shy! We want to know your views and any ideas you may have for us. Call or email any of us on the Board…

As you read this, hopefully, our very first “virtual” Tech Session will have occurred on May 27th featuring John Twist. This was a combined effort of several folks, including Ed Johannemann, John Puglisi, Mike Eaton, Jennifer Giunta and Alphonso Stewart. We’ll be anxious to know how those of you who participated reacted to the live ZOOM format, the content, and the idea of perhaps trying to do more virtual events in the future.

As you may have noticed from the May issue of The Spark, we made successful requests to the membership to add content to our venerable and much-loved Club newsletter, and we hope you’ll find this issue similarly robust. If you’ve ever had a hankering to write and “be published”, now is your chance! In the May Spark issue, we had Greg Prehodka (“Sir Stirling Moss”, about the famed racer’s relationship to MGs and Greg); Ed Johannemann (“Get the Alcohol Out”, article on methods of alcohol removal from gas for old engines); Alphonso Stewart (“MG-Novations”, a DIY on easily sprucing up a worn-out MG logo); Alyson Meiselman (“My Second MG”—a heartwarming tome about car love and air-conditioning); and veteran contributor, Bob Vitrikas (“What’s In a Number” piece on the relevance of “Abingdon 0251”)—all of whom found ways to contribute to our reading enjoyment. Many, many thanks to all of these literary contributors!

Speaking of the May issue, with regard to the 1933 MG J-Type Midget that I highlighted in “If Cars Could Talk”: Polson Motor Company of Suffolk, England, which is selling the car, tells me the asking price is £250,000, or about $305,000. (I said it would be expensive!) By the way, there was a good deal of interest expressed in knowing more about the short life of the J-Type’s first owner, Luis Fontes, whose fame I was surprised to learn was known to a number of Club Members. I have added a bit more to his story, for the next issue of the Spark.

As we all cope with the current situation, it is important that we keep our MG community connected, vibrant, and fun. Stay active (take that MG of yours out for a spin!). Stay optimistic (we will get over this rough patch in the road). And, as Will Rogers might have said: use your “good judgement” to stay well!

Cheers, and Safety fast!


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