Double M Restaurant in Taneytown was a flurry of activity Saturday afternoon as automobile enthusiasts from all parts of Maryland and south-central Pennsylvania converged for "Cruzz Night."
Participants drove hot rods and street rods, antiques, collectibles and muscle cars to the display area, which spanned three business parking lots. By the time the dust had cleared, 92 automobiles were registered.
There were, however, many more who came to show off their prized possessions but who did not register to compete for a trophy.
Some enthusiasts represented themselves as individuals who were there to show off their personal accomplishments. One such person was Bud Hinkhous of Finksburg. Mr. Hinkhous displayed a black 1923 Model T "Bucket," a Model T automobile with a truck body called a bucket.
Driving with the steering wheel between his knees is a challenge, he said. He added that the truck "rides like a stagecoach." But when he opened it up to see how fast it would drive one day on Route 795, Mr. Hinkhous said, the 120 mph startled him, "so I slowed down."
He said he could have made it go faster but decided against it.
"I'm an old home boy," said Ed Becker of Gettysburg, Pa., who brought his 1965 Ford Galaxy 500 XL back to the old stomping grounds where he grew up.
"This was the hangout when Twin Kiss was here," he said of the Taneytown landmark that closed in 1991 after about 50 years. The Double M Restaurant operates in that building today. "We had a lot of good times here."
Mr. Becker said he could remember when cruising was allowed and driving through town repeatedly was a ritual for high-spirited youths of the '60s.
"They [Twin Kiss] made a lot of money off us then, and I hope they [Double M] make a lot of money off this event," he said.
Traveling from Hanover, Pa., in his "Time Machine," Roland Bohrer showed off his 1960 Ford Starliner, complete with flames painted all around the body of the car. The flames are his pride and joy; it took him three months to hand-paint them.
With 240,000 miles behind him, Mr. Bohrer said, the daily use of his vehicle makes it difficult to take it off the road to repaint it, but he is looking forward to doing so as soon as time will allow.
His love of restoring old cars has prompted him to start a "Time Machine Club" in the Hanover area.
From the "Streetcars of Desire Car Club," Al Hepding of Westminster was representative of the group participants. Many members of clubs came to not only show their cars, but also to represent their organizations.
Mr. Hepding displayed a pale green 1951 Ford convertible with the original V-8 engine intact. The original roof, which was a hardtop, has been converted to a collapsible roof.
Don Staub and Joe Morningstar, both from Taneytown, were proud to have been part of this successful, first-time event for Double M. Mr. Staub, the original owner of a 1967 blue GTO, and Mr. Morningstar, the owner of a 1963 Chevy Impala Supersport, were the driving force behind the event.
Frequent patrons of Double M and avid lovers of car shows, the men tossed out to restaurant owners Marlene Sponaugle and Mary Jane Brumbaugh the idea of having a cruise night as a form of entertainment for the Taneytown community.
The women loved the idea and, without a hint of hesitation, started the planning ball rolling. Although they were hoping for a large turnout, no one knew how many people would show up to a first-time event.
No reservations were taken, but publicity at other local car shows and posters displayed throughout the state made the difference.
"Whether we had 20 show up or a 120, we were going through with it," said Ms. Brumbaugh.
Dash plaques were given to the first 50 entrants. Ballots were distributed among the crowd to decide which automobiles were most liked.
Trophies went to: Mark L. Rickrod Jr. for his 1969 Mustang Mach 1, Charles Kelly for his 1935 Plymouth convertible, and Joe and Janet Hahn for their 1935 Chevy two-door sedan. Sixteen auto- or food-related door prizes were awarded.
For the owners of Double M, the event brought back memories of growing up.
"The '50s were a clean era," said Ms. Brumbaugh. "It was after the postwar worries of the '40s and before the drug use of the '60s. Everyone felt good about themselves.
"People in the community seem to like the nostalgia," she said. "The age group here is right for this kind of event. Many of our clientele are in their 40s or older. Marlene and I think back to the '50s a lot."
Just look around at the '50s interior decor of the restaurant and one can feel the nostalgia. There are records, record jackets from famous singers of the time and Elvis pictures listening to patrons' conversations from framed perches.
Because the event was such a success, another is in the works. It is planned for Aug. 27 and will again take place on the Double M lot. If all goes well, the lots of Reindollar Hardware and Wantz Chevrolet again will be full of participants and spectators.
Music and food will be available for the second event, too.
Information: Double M Restaurant, 756-4453.