THANK YOU PICKLE PEOPLE FOR YOUR KIND DONATIONS!
A Rick & The Ramblers Shout Out to You! Here’s Our Plenty ‘Preciated Pickle Patrons’ Honor Roll:
Jake & Kristin Albee
Hugh & Nancy Aldous
Shauna & Brandy Anderson
Connie & Bob Bellavance
Davis & Cheryl Bodette
Becky & Rich Cassidy
Larry & Katy Davis
Kelly & Rick Devine
Don & Marty Dewees
Dan & Alice Dubenetsky
Ken & Pat Eastman
John & Jane Ewing
Fisher Auto Parts
Cathy Wellings Gillespie
Tom & Roz Graham
Jack, Joy & Jackson Harris
Joe & Camille Lovering
Beecher & Veda Martin
Scott & Wendy McArdle
Greg & Eileen Paus
Steve & Marietta Payne
Thom & Mare Richards
Bob & Sandra Rippy
Gary & Elaine Russell
Larry & Connie Simino
John Boy Wagner
WE’RE ALMOST THERE, FRIENDS!
Just to bring you up to speed about our five month old Pickle Project, our longtime tour bus, a rare 1957 Flxible Starliner, a/k/a as “The Pickle,” was in desperate need of life-saving restoration, financially far beyond our reach. So we invited our loyal Rambler community to participate in our “Preserve The Pickle” campaign. And it has been a Dilly of a Fund Drive! Thanks to our amazing Rambler family, between our Pickle Party at the St. John’s Club in Burlington on April 15th, and many more kind donations, literally from all over the world (see the Honor Roll below), we have raised almost $11,400 toward our goal of $15,000.
The Pickle has been in Hardwick since April 18th on the operating table undergoing extensive restorative surgery, under the expert eye of Bear Bessette, owner of Wildcat Busing Company. Bear and his crew have taken the Pickle Project to heart and are treating the restoration as if it were his own personal bus. He has taken the body down to bare metal by removing eight coats of paint, excised every iota of rust (over100 bags of sandblasting later), removed and fabricated every rusted steel body panel, and straightened out or rebuilt the steel rub rails around the lower regions of the bus. New glass is being prepared, old windshields resealed and the greatest care taken to secure the entire bus from any water leaks. The photos of The Naked Pickle above were taken in Bear’s shop the last week of July.
In spite of all Bear’s extra attention, we are still within our $15,000 budget. Today we are about $3,600 short of our goal. If you were planning to send a donation to the Pickle Project, but haven’t gotten around to it yet, “Now is the time for all good people...” We have about a month left to reach our goal before the Pickle Restoration is completed. Your help would be deeply appreciated! If you have already donated, another heartfelt THANK YOU!
HERE’S OUR APRIL PICKLE PROJECT APPEAL:
Our 1957 Flxible Starliner bus, known to one and all as “The Pickle,” has suffered the ravages of Vermont winters, frost heaves & 55 years of reliable over-the-road service. For the past dozen years, The Pickle has served us well as our ever-faithful Rick & The Ramblers Tour Bus, traveling the highways & byways of Vermont, never once breaking down or missing a concert date.
Though we have worked for many years to keep our tour bus in tip-top mechanical condition, today The Pickle is in desperate need of rust remediation, repair of the 10KW on-board generator, roof repair to stop water leaks and a protective and attractive coat of paint to stop further deterioration... to return The Pickle to her former glory.
In short, The Pickle needs a life-saving Restoration and unfortunately, the Restoration work needed is financially far beyond our reach. We invite our loyal Rambler community to participate in our “Preserve The Pickle” Fund Drive. Please take just a moment to look over the enclosed pack of pickle material and pick a way you can help.
There’s only ONE PICKLE and she deserves to be saved! After all, She’s a Dilly!
Thank You for your attention and your kind consideration!
A Note from Rick Norcross to our Rick & The Ramblers Family
“While this fund-raiser is not about a life & death situation, it IS about keeping The Pickle full of Ramblers on the road for my upcoming 50th Anniversary Tour of Vermont in 2013. It breaks my heart to see our beloved Pickle in such dire need of restoration. Many of our good friends have told me they would like to help us set her right and so we are turning to our Rick & The Ramblers Family for assistance. By the way, our “Preserve The Pickle” campaign is our first-ever & last-ever public appeal for support.
ANY DONATION of ANY SIZE would be deeply appreciated and put to good use in the restoration of this rare and wonderful bus. Friends who participate in this restoration are helping us continue our Musical Journey through our beloved Vermont!”
THE HISTORY OF “THE PICKLE”
Rick & The Ramblers Tour Bus is a 1957 Flxible Starliner originally sold as a 29 passenger intercity coach, the last and the most sophisticated model in a long line of Clippers built by the Flxible Company in Loudonville, Ohio between 1937 and 1967. The Starliner was introduced in 1957 and only 276 were built between 1957 and 1967. Only 64 Starliners were built with the raised roof and observation window, all in 1957. Besides Rick & The Ramblers Western Swing Band, entertainers Doc & Chickie Williams, Ray Charles and B.B. King also toured in a raised roof 1957 Flxible Starliner. According to Flxible Owners International, less than 10 raised roof 1957 Flxible Starliners are still on the road today. This Starliner was purchased by Rick in March of 1998 from Steve Cyr in Marleboro, MA, another member of the Flxible Owners International.
In July of 2000, Rick drove The Pickle from Burlington back to Loudonville, Ohio where she was built for the Flxible Owners International Homecoming Rally. The featured speaker was Custom Coach Corp. founder Kirwan Elmers. He graciously came on board and recalled in detail the conversion job his company did on our very bus back in 1961 at a cost of $65,000. Kerwan said that $65,000 conversion represented $1 Million in today’s dollars. The great condition of the interior of our coach today is a testimony to the quality and craftsmanship of the Custom Coach team.
The 1961 conversion was a total interior refit installing a new Ford 534 cubic inch V-8 gas engine with 6 speed Allison Transmission; 10-KW generator with 4 cylinder Continental engine (which we use to power up the band and PA system at Vermont State Park shows); galley with sink and refrigerator; rest room and hot shower; bunks to sleep six; lounge in rear and two tables in front with seating for 14 passengers; two zones of heating and air-conditioning; hot and cold water systems; stereo and CB radio and eight storage drawers, four cabinets and one closet of storage space. Top speed, 90-plus miles per hour, air brakes and Torsilastic suspension system; an altimeter, paneling, mirrors, yellow and green upholstery and shag carpeting.
The Pickle scored roles in two movies filmed in Montreal and a background appearance in three episodes of Entertainment Tonight. The first was shot in April of 2000, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt in a bio-pic about Audrey Hepburn that aired on ABC-TV in January of 2001. The second movie was a pilot for MTV that aired in February of 2001 called “Live Through This.” The Starliner plays the tour bus for a calypso group called “The Latin Gigolos.” In October of 2002, Burlington’s Seventh Generation hired bus and driver (Rick) to travel to 13 Shaw’s and Bread & Circus grocery stores in the Boston area to help promote their environmentally conscious paper and cleaning products.
Former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle commandeered The Pickle and Rick for a tour of the entire State of Vermont at the end of October during his 2004 gubernatorial campaign, visiting over 60 towns and all of Vermont’s 14 counties in just one week.
On a sunny mid-October day on the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor of Vermont, Peter Clavelle pulled me aside and asked if I’d be willing to drive him around the state in our band tour bus for a five day campaign swing just before the elections. This is not something you get to do every day and as I already had huge respect and affection for his honor “Da Mayor,” I immediately agreed to embark on what I knew would be a great adventure.
After a few days scrubbing the dust off the inside, the removal of band posters, Airbrush Ron Hernandez applying fresh paint to a couple of outside rust spots, a little oil and a lot of gas, we loaded up our 1957 Flxible Starliner. On came campaign “lit,” lawn signs, bumper stickers, sandwich supplies, lemon squares, beef jerky, coffee cups, campaign staff, Peter’s parents, Ray and Elle Clavelle and Peter’s wife, the irrepressable, Red-Sox jacketed Betsy Ferries. Then we left for Vermont. All of Vermont.
We traveled pretty much every major highway in the state on what turned into a seven day voyage through all 14 counties, visiting over 60 towns. Here’s how the campaign trip went. We headed out well before 6 am each morning to “Honk & Wave” at major intersections during the morning rush hours from 7 to 9 am. Then we visited businesses where Peter could meet and talk to people. Meanwhile the campaign staff would do “lit drops,” leaving info about Peter’s experience and goals for the people of Vermont. We hooked up with local and national level Democrats throughout the state and campaigned with them in their districts.
We attended rallies and candidate forums where Peter could answer questions and meet more people. We visited general stores, schools, senior centers and more general stores. I watched Peter field the questions and concerns of young people and old people dealing with everyday issues. Through it all, I watched Peter wage a hard-fought campaign with the kind of class, warmth and integrity that made me proud to be driving the bus.
(Note: Peter Clavelle was unsuccessful in his 2004 bid to unseat incumbent Governor Jim Douglas.)
Higher Ground Music Hall frequently uses The Pickle as a backstage base of operations at most of their “Concerts on the Green” shows at the Shelburne Museum. Many of the featured artists come aboard the Pickle for a look and a smile, including John Fogarty, The Seldom Scene, members of the Del McCoury Band and The Nocturnals, to name a few. Senator Pat Leahy had his wife Marcelle shoot a photo of he and Rick in the rear lounge following an Emmylou Harris concert.
This is Rick & The Ramblers’ second Flxible Clipper band bus. The first was 1946 Flxible Airporter model that was in such rough shape that the band name and sponsors’ logos were only painted on the ditch side so that when it broke down on the highway, it wouldn’t embarrass our sponsors.
The Clipper Sculpture
A couple of years back, during a driving snowstorm, a mechanic who rebuilt the Continental generator motor in our ‘57 Starliner among other things, was loading scrap metal into a recycling dumpster just down the street from Rambler Ranch here on Burlington’s historic waterfront. He looked into the dumpster and saw the back end of this six and one half inch Clipper covered with snow and recognized what it was. He jumped into the dumpster and dug it out and gave it to me a few minutes later. Can you imagine that it ended up in a scrap metal dumpster (a day and a half’s drive from the Loudonville, Ohio Flxible factory) just moments before he showed up to discard his metal salvage? And that he would recognize what it was in a driving snowstorm and then bring it to me? How many of these could possibly exist in Vermont? It’s a little beat up and has a hole in the top. It weighs a little under two pounds and is, I am told, white metal, whatever that is, and it is lightly plated with copper. It is very cool and obviously was meant to live at Rambler Ranch. I have since learned that these models were given to purchasers of Flxible Coaches as a desk “ornament” or paper weight. The Vermont Transit bus company bought 13 Flxible Coaches in the late 30s and early 40s and was cleaning out their downtown Burlington office at the time, preparing for a change of location.