Mar 03 2012

Walt Gosden: Memories of the Long Island Automotive Museum’s “Iron Range Days”

Walter Gosden has provided this memory of the "Iron Range Days"at the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton. (Photo: September 1982;Left to Right: Walter McCarthy, Walter Gosden and Henry Austin Clark, Jr.).


Howard Kroplick

These are photos of the loft above the Long Island Automotive Museum, lots of stuff still there so it must date from the mid to late 1970s and was during one of the (by invite) "Iron Range Days". Note the narrow path to walk down, poor lighting and hundreds of brass side and tail lamps hanging from the ceiling. The shelves held more brass lamps (usually head lamps) horns, all kinds of stuff. There were also rims and lock rings on the floor but not too many as most were out in the truck barn out back.

The Iron Range Days were usually in the spring and in the fall, notification by post card, or phone call. I recall many times getting a call around 8:30 pm on a Friday night from Austin saying " I guess we should have an Iron Range Day tomorrow, maybe we should call a few people to let them know it’s on". So I would make some calls and either I or Austin would call Walter McCarthy to let him notify people as well. Collectors who lived in south New Jersey would d sometimes groan (well maybe often times groan) about the last minute decision, but didn't miss it and would drive up to look around, somewhat bleary eyed. The deli just west of the museum did a major business in coffee those Saturdays.

At 12 noon sharp Austin would announce "time for lunch, lights out" and if you were in the end of the loft up against the front of the museum wall you scrambled to make it to the stairs before the lights were turned out and it went pitch black. That narrow path to walk down was not forgiving if you stepped off it into some parts. Lunch was at 'John Ducks', and the men's room kind of got trashed with everyone trying to wash the dust and grime off their hands before we all went to the bar and Austin announced that the first two drinks were on him and lunch was Dutch treat. He would come over and tell me; "Spread the word we are in one of the side rooms so as not to scare off the locals". Austin's choice for lunch and mine as well was the shrimp salad sandwich on pumpernickel bread or when in season the bay scallops. The coleslaw was piled high in bowls on the table and was the best in the world.

After lunch we all staggered well, drove back to the museum and settled up to pay for the pile of bits we had picked out. Prices were always reasonable. My largest purchases were not car bits but a heavily carved oak library table that was in the front entrance and a year later a matching china cabinet in the area closest to the shop. That table serves me to this day as my desk where I write my articles and do my research.

Walt, thanks for the memories!

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Mar 04 2012 Margaret Vitale 7:54 AM

I too had the pleasure of being invited to one of “Austie’s ” Iron Ranges.  It was late in the ‘70’s just prior to the 1981 Glidden Tour. I found a 5 foot tall trophy in the loft.  It had been awarded to James Melton .  Mr. Melton was once the president of AACA as well as a superb opera singer.  The trophy was refurbished and still sits in the AACA national headquarters.  I purchased several brass head lamps and a magnificent Lalique eagle’s head. Wonderful memories. MMV

Mar 04 2012 Walter McCarthy 9:18 AM

Howard, thank you for posting those great Iron Range photos Walter sent.  They are much better thn mine as I guess I was too busy looking for parts.  Another highlight of many Iron Range days was the ride to and from John Duck’s in the Autocar bus with a stop in the cemetery where we would visit the grave of his friend and actor Gary Cooper.  The marker was a huge field stone!  In later years I bought the bus at one of Austin’s Auctions and had a great deal of fun with this vehicle.

Mar 04 2012 Walter McCarthy 9:45 AM

Another highlight of “Iron Range” days was the trip to John Duck’s in the 2cyl. Autocar bus and a stop at the cemetery on the return trip to visit the grave of Austin’s friend actor Gary Cooper. The marker was a huge field stone! At a later auction we bought the bus and had a great time with this vehicle!

Mar 04 2012 Walter McCarthy 10:04 AM

Thank you Walter for the great photos of the museum loft.  It was always quite dark up there and I am sure people got so busy digging for parts that they never thought to take photos! Your photos are probably among the few that exist.

Mar 04 2012 Art K. 10:29 AM

Thanks for the pics and video.  Very nicely done Howard.  Unfortunately that last shot of the museum in 2008 really is a downer.  Progress?

Mar 04 2012 DON CORIE 1:14 PM



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