It all kinda happened sporadically, but it’s a great case for demonstrating how true Checker friends help each other and generally speaking have “Checker Fun”. On one single day on May 3rd, eleven Checker friends met up in Ohio for a series of Checker activities.
For Laddie Vitek, last Tuesday, he was able to pickup a former Checker Chicago Yellow cab purchased from Ben Merkel. This is an important transaction as Laddie plans on bringing the Checker currently in Cleveland Yellow Cab livery back to its original Chicago Yellow Cab livery. This writer is not aware of any restored Checker that properly reflects one of CMC’s flagship fleet.
Laddie partnered up with Emerson Zentz and Al Schultz to pickup up the former Chicago cab. Upon hearing about the scheduled activities, this writer and Pete Talanca got in on the action. We met up with the Wisconsin/Illinois crew at Ben Merkel’s place to see the scheduled pickup and have a group dinner.
Any Checker fan who has not been to Ben Merkel’s place, will be astonished to see Ben’s Checker and parts collection. Ben’s fleet is now down to five restored Checkers and five parts cars, yet is still fun to climb all over the ancient city cabs, yet its still impressive. The crew spend hours climbing over parts and even got to test to see if an engine would turn in one of the junkers. The engine did turn and is slated for installation into Pete Talanca’s Norfolk Checker cab.
For this writer, there was additional Checker fun earlier in the day. On very short notice, AJ Voiles and Stephen Fiorenzo scheduled a parts exchange in Toledo, Ohio. AJ pulled in with a complete front-end assembly for Steve. The front end came out of a Checker parts car salvaged about five years ago. The best part of the front end was that being a late model Checker, it also included a very nice disc brake set up.
AJ also brought along some doors salvaged from one of the rusted hulks recently sold by the now extinct Clearwater, Florida Checker Cab operation. While in Toledo, AJ picked up a complete Checker A11 partition, purchased from Dan Smith, the partition was stored at this writer’s place.
Given there are no Checker suppliers actually operating anymore, the fun of last Tuesday demonstrates the future of sourcing Checker parts. Bottom line, a small network of Checker fans will have to ban together and help each other out. The key word here is “friends”, there is no more time for opportunists expecting to get rich on Checkers. There is no point in trying to be the Checker “King of the Hill” as deomstrated by some other Checker clubs. Its now time for real friends to help each other out a think of creative ways to network.
To see some of the fun, check out the Youtube video on the link below.