Visalia couple provides a glimpse into history

April 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
These folks are having some good old fashioned fun... and I mean, OLD fashioned.

Riding a vintage carouse as many times as they wanted.

"Two times, two or three times!" Joann Lowen of Reedley exclaimed.

Hearing an ancient pipe organ from the silent movie days, played by Visalia's Pete Sweeney.

"Oh it's lovely, don't you like it? It's a fun instrument."

Admiring cars that were on the road before most of them were born.

"Me it's the cars, I love the old cars," said Ed Hererra of Exeter.

They've all come together to share that love at George and Annabelle Pope's place just outside Visalia. They are both 87, married for 67 years and it looks like they've been collecting stuff for every one of those years. They bought and restored the carousel and organ, to remind them of their younger days.

George likes to tell the story of how it all started. "We grew up in the early days of the depression in southern California they had the old Long Beach Pike, which had the carousel on it and the roller coaster and everything and we used to go down to the Pike and spend all of our time swimming and going up and down the Pike and they had pipe organs down there and we just loved pipe organs and carousels and we had the opportunity to get one and rebuild it and restore it and this is what we've got."

The organ came from a silent movie house in Modesto.

But the big draw this day is the cars. Especially the Model A Fords. That's how George and Annabelle connected with these folks, members of the Happy Honkers a local Model A Ford Club. George and Annabelle have been involved with these cars for more than fifty years and have several in their collection.

"I always liked Model A's I couldn't afford one when I was in school," George said. "I bought my first Model A for 70 dollars."

But George has a certain affection for a newer cars as well.

"When I was going to university I was madly in love with a girl that had a '41 convertible, I just loved the car, I can't remember her name but I still love the '41 Ford, so when I had a chance to buy this, that was why," George said. "It brought back a lot of good memories."

And he has a special car, a Rolls Royce, to remember the most important day in his life, his wedding day.

"It's a five passenger and its all original and the mannequin the back is wearing my wife's wedding dress, 67 years ago, she said she wore it only once by mistake."

Annabelle wouldn't say it was a mistake. But admits it wasn't quite love at first sight.

"We met on a blind date on a hay ride and he proposed then and I said well no."

Buying, restoring and caring for all of this stuff, is a job, but, Annabelle still has time to do her own thing.

"I have hobbies." She said.

"Dolls, doll houses sewing." George added.

"Smaller hobbies than his." She replied.

They don't mind showing it off a bit.

"We like to share what we've got and a lot of people rode the carousel today and they hadn't ridden one in many years and so its great to let them enjoy the past."

They're letting the whole world share in one of their biggest projects. A 1930 Model A school bus they restored and drove across the United States with their son and daughter in 1964 is going to be part of the permanent display at the Model A Ford Museum in Michigan in May.

"It's gonna be a big gala event," George said.

"We're gonna drive back there," Annabelle adds.

But not in a Model A.

George and Annabelle have found the secret to a long, and happy life and marriage. They've each done their own thing together and kept going.

George describes it like this, "We've been married 67 years this June and it's been pretty nice we are still getting to know each other after 67 years."

It's also pretty nice they've let so many others enjoy their collections, and be inspired by the two of them.

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