A regular beach happening...when it’s dry
Take Doug Brown, for example.
On Tuesday evenings he can be found at the Oakland Beach Commons, relaxed on a canvas chair in front of his metallic cherry 1954 Mercury Monterey.
You can’t make Tuesday nights?
Well then, visit the Cowesett Inn on Thursday evening, Crestar in East Greenwich on Friday or Sunday afternoon at TGI Fridays. All host cruises, and Brown, like scores of other car owners and car aficionados, schedule their summers around the events.
Kevin Oliver played a major role in starting the Oakland Beach cruise nights as a benefit for the community and JONAH Inc., Join Our Neighborhood and Help. Over the years the nights have not only helped fund scholarships and community events but also brought in a steady stream of traffic that has benefited area businesses and showcased Oakland Beach in the summer.
This is the first year cruise nights have been run by the Warwick Lions Club. Many of the volunteers who worked the show are also members of the club, and the transition was a natural. Funds raised go to help Lions Club causes including helping children with cancer and contributing to the Rhode Island Sight Foundation.
So far, say Lions Club members, Tuesdays have not been kind to the event. More often than not it has rained on Tuesday and rain, even the threat of it, is enough for those who put so much effort in their cars to keep them in the garage.
But this Tuesday was a good Tuesday.
Brown waved to acquaintances as they drove across the common’s grass to find a spot amidst the sparkling chrome, polished leather and shiny engines that hummed, or roared, as dusk approached.
“It’s a sickness,” confesses Roger Paul of Burrillville.
Paul owns several cars, but it was his 1955 black Mercury that was on display Tuesday. The car won last year’s Tony Lombardi Jr. Best of Show Award, a trophy that he proudly held up.
Paul and his friend for nearly a lifetime, Ron Bouvier, are cruise regulars. The car bug likewise infects Bouvier of Cumberland.
“I have four or five others,” he says of the cars he owns. All are American cars and all he has restored to one degree or another.
Bouvier restored cars professionally until retiring nine years ago. Now he is doing it for himself and his latest acquisition, which was on display, is a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk. He found the car in Arizona and bought it two years ago.
As it came from an area with a dry climate, Bouvier said it really didn’t require a lot of restoration. But he’s making certain it’s staying dry. Bouvier has 11 garages.
That’s just a sample of the interesting information to be found cruising a cruise.
Text and photos by John Howell