Portland Regional Group - How it all Began
by Glenn Slack and Sandra Reiley

While on a HACO tour during the summer of 1964, Jack Davis, with Ken Santee, Lex Wampole, Stan Jones, Glenn Slack, and others, verbally explored the possibility of starting a regional HCCA group in the Portland area. Members with older cars were interest in having a club for pre-1916 cars so that touring would be at a pace more comfortable for the older cars.

Jack Davis contacted Julian Eccles (a national HCCA board member) in Klamath Falls to inquire about sponsoring a Portland group. To create a regional group we needed to have at least a dozen 1915 or earlier automobiles, and a current HCCA board member to sponsor the group. Jack spent many hours composing the by-laws - which (with a few modifications) are still in use today,.

The first few meetings were held at the Teamsters building near NE Union Avenue in Portland. Approximately seventeen men were present, representing fourteen pre-1915 cars, which made the group eligible for a regional charter. Those charter members discussed the goals and principles for the newly forming club, and elected a slate of officers. The charter was later amended to include automobiles up to and including 1932 models.

The first set of officers were:

We would like to thank these men for their efforts in keeping the club as great as it is. The following men were past national presidents:

Subsequent meetings were held at the Woodland Park Lumber Company on NE 103rd and Halsey, and then at numerous other locations in the Portland-metro area, including the firehouse on NE 33rd and Alberta, the Gene Brim building, and currently at the Denny's Conference Center in Clackamas. We had over 80 members and guests in attendance at our first Christmas Banquet, which took place December 10th, 1965 at the M & M Restaurant in Gresham, which is still operating today, and still looks the same.

During that first Christmas banquet the idea of the monthly paper was presented, and people were asked to submit name suggestions. Jerry Hubert had the winning name, which was the "Portland Gas Leak". We are now into Volume 54, Issue 8 of the "Gas Leak", which started with a manually-operated mimeograph printing machine, and today we have an award-winning magazine format in color.

One of the most important pieces of club history is the LaBarre Trophy which is presented at the annual Christmas banquet, and to the owner and driver of a noteworthy automobile. Warren LaBarre was well-known as a master mechanic & machinist with an ability to create unusual and beautiful objects with wood, metal, and plastic, including a hand-hammered suit of armor that fit him! The LaBarre trophy had been destined to be the hard-luck trophy for the 1971 National Tour; but then-president Jerry Hubert proposed that it instead be a perpetual trophy (to club members only) who have restored and maintained their cars over a specified length of time. The first winner was Bob Dunken with his 1910 Cadillac, and the most recent winner was Kevin & J'Leane Cole with their 1914 Buick.

The club was invited to participate in the rededication after the great restoration of the Oregon City steel arch bridge, which was built in 1922. We had approximately twelve cars which were following the bagpipers across the bridge, and with each car having state and local dignitaries as passengers.

To raise money the club presented car shows in grocery store parking lots and shopping malls, including the grand opening of the Clackamas Town Center. One time we even drove around town with signs on our cars advertising the movie "The Great Race" which was showing at the Hollywood Theater- earning funds for the club, and movie passes for the participants!

A major fund-raiser is the club's participation in the annual Portland Swap Meet, which has been having a yearly event since 1965. The club has a ladies' sales booth for clothing and accessories, and the men have a large area for car parts and related items. The members sign up for numerous shifts of duty for event operations and security for the three day weekend.

In prior years the club had enjoyed giving commemorative plaques which depicted the major event of each annual tour. Jerry Hubert designed the brass plaque for the first annual scenic tour, and he continued designing the plaques for over 20 years. Our first tour was August, 1966. By 1971, the Portland Group hosted the Nationa lHorseless Carriage tour here in Portland. We drew 185 pre-1915 automobiles, which was the largest national tour at that time, and we did so with a very small club membership of 21 couples!

The PRG hosted a second national tour in 1991, which drew about 140 cars. Then, the club again hosted the national tour in 2011 with about 85 cars. This was our "Third Time's A Charm" tour. It followed the same tour route used for each of the three national tours we hosted. That included going through the Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls for an 88 mile round trip. The second day was a 127 mile round trip to Timberline Lodge, which is at an elevation of 6,000'; most all of the cars made it to the top. The third day was to Alderbook Park in Brush Prairie, Washington, for a total of 50 miles. The awards banquet was held the last night at the host Thunderbird Hotel. Glenn was honored to be the Master of Ceremonies for each of the tours' banquets.

The 50th annual tour in the high desert of central Oregon had 52 cars, including 5 Stanley Steamers. We recently completed our 54th annual tour in and around the Puget Sound area. We are a traveling history show, and it is fun to watch the people's reactions as we drive along. Whenever we are parked, we are able to answer questions about the automobiles, and why we dress according to the era of our cars.

To be a member of a regional group, people are required to first belong to the national club. There were many people who thought that this group would not survive, but here we are 55 years later, going strong, with one of the best regional groups in the HCCA. Today the Portland Regional Group boasts a membership of approximately 50 families. Family members are involved in many ways, and the club continues to offer quality day and annual tours, and other activities, due to the fact that everyone is having a great time!