Tuesday, April 21, 2015

54 Years ago today....

Fifty-four years ago today my father died. This is the appreciation his friend and fellow automobile collector Sam Scher wrote in Antique Automobile magazine.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


I had a lovely surprise the other day in the form of an unexpected parcel.  It contained this award plaque given to my father in 1959, and came from Dick King of Redding, Connecticut.  What a gift! I am thrilled to have it.  The 1907 Rolls Royce was one of my father's (and my) favorite cars. It was painted dark green and had red leather seats, hence the license plate XMAS.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

1925 Rolls Royce

1925 Rolls Royce

Back in November, I visited a friend in Bethesda, Maryland. As part of our sightseeing tour around the area, we went to visit Hillwood, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate (now a museum) in northwest Washington.  Quite a fascinating place.

It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered that Mrs. Post GAVE my father a car, a 1925 Rolls Royce Town Car.  He wrote about it in his memoir of car collecting Bright Wheels Rolling.  [I do intend to contact a curator at the museum to see if there is any information in their archives about this gift to my father.]

Here is what he wrote in the book:

“Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post Davies owned this Twenty Town Car, and believe it or not, she gave it to me. Not only did she give it to me, complete with solid ivory interior fittings, but she put brand-new tires on it first. And when I said I would send a man for it, Mrs. Davies said certainly not, she’d send it to me. And she did!”

And there’s another connection (tenuous as it may be). Mrs. Post’s first husband was Edward Bennett Close, who is the grandfather of my Rosemary Hall school mates artist Tina Close and actress Glenn Close.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Apologies! and a nice story...

Apologies for the six months hiatus. In October, when I retired, after 26 years at Dartmouth College,  I thought I would have much more free time.  I seem to have less.  Or is it just less self-discipline?  At any rate, for what it's worth, I'm back on track.

Here is the most recent James Melton legacy story:

When I was in Maine last August, doing the reading from my book at the Seal Cove Auto Museum, I was reunited with Tina Weeks, who is the daughter of Richard Paine, whose antique car collection is the museum.  One of the cars in her father’s collection was once in my father’s collection. (A 1913 Peugeot.) See September 6, 2014 blog post.   In between my father and her father, the car was owned by Dr. Sam Scher, a plastic surgeon in NYC.  He was a good friend of my father’s in his later years. Well, Tina had somehow contacted Dr. Scher’s grandson, Bernard Shuster, and urged me to do likewise.  So I did, and sent him a copy of my book.  Some weeks later a large box arrived from Dr. Shuster.  In it was a hat that had belonged to my father! (Barely worn, Knox, with my father’s name stamped in gold on the inside band.)  Also included was a very nice note that his grandfather had owned the hat, and that he—Bernard—had hoped someday to repatriate it to a member of the Melton family!!  Isn’t that amazing. I mean, my father has been dead for 54 years! (Dr. Scher died in 2000.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A P.S. to the Seal Cove visit

The trip to Seal Cove also gave me a chance to reconnect with Tina Weeks, daughter of Richard C. Paine, Jr. whose collection forms the Seal Cove Auto Museum.  I consider her something of a “soul sister” on account of our car-collecting fathers. Here we are in front of the 1913 Peugeot which belonged to my father, and then hers (with ownership by Dr. Sam Scher in between Melton and Paine).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Seal Cove Auto Museum

A little over a week ago I did a talk about and reading from The Tenor of His Times at the Seal Cove Auto Museum on Mt. Desert Island, Maine.  I had the opportunity to reconnect with Roberto Rodriguez, former executive director of the museum, now its chief curator, who had invited me to speak, and meet the museum’s new executive director, Raney Bench.

You may recall that in September 2010 I did a talk at the museum. That was before my book was published. (See posts from 9/15/10 and 9/29/10.)

Because it’s such a long drive to Mt. Desert (although worth every hour! I love Maine!) I asked my friend, Heidi Hoskin to accompany me, and we took a few extra days to make stops along the route—at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden near Boothbay, and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland.  We had a wonderful time on the whole trip, and were especially delighted with the welcoming hospitality at the Seal Cove Auto Museum.

This is Heidi and me in front of the 1913 Peugeot “Skiff” that was previously owned by my father.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hershey 1958

I had a nice surprise last week -- a photo taken at the Hershey meet in 1958 – sent to me by Alan Ballard.

He writes: "The photo shows our fathers standing next to a 1910 Thomas Flyer Flyabout that once belonged to my father. (The picture was taken by Ken Stauffer, a long time friend and past president of AACA who died earlier this year.) The person in the middle is Tom Lester, who bought the car from my father and is showing it for the first time. I believe your father once owned a similar Thomas.

As someone who also was "born" into the antique car hobby, I remember your father not only for his love of antique cars, but for his musical talents. I still recall his referring to his antique car friends as "squirrels'!

Best regards,
Alan Ballard"

It’s always delightful to hear from folks who actually knew my father!  Thanks for the photo, Alan.  And on the subject of "squirrels," did you know my father had a license plate that read SQRL?