Club History

In the Beginning There Was the Garage

Originally presented at the Capitol A’s 55th Anniversary Dinner

By Peggy Gill

Not surprising to most of the men here, great things really do come from the garage…it’s true! In 1923, Roy and Walt Disney started drawing their first cartoons; in 1938 William Hewlett and David Packard gave birth to the first big tech company, Hewlett-Packard; in 1964, Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike was selling running shoes out of the trunk of his green Plymouth Valiant—which was stored in his garage. Other great organizations with humble garage beginnings include Mattel, Apple, Harley Davidson, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and the Sacramento Capitol A Club.

In December of 1958, Merlin Love, a mailman, was delivering mail to the Ray Johnston family in the Tahoe Park area of Sacramento when he noticed inside the open garage a Ford Model A station wagon and a Model T Ford. This began a daily discussion of the greatest car ever built—it turned out that Merlin Love also had a Model A—and to quote a famous movie line, “was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Over the next couple of months, they traded parts and helpful hints, and began to form the idea of starting a club. Both men had friends who they thought might be interested in joining them, and looked through the rosters of the two national organizations to find other people in the Sacramento area. A date was set for the first organized meeting on February 14, 1959, at Merlin Love’s home, and invitations were sent to tentative members. Eleven families responded—Merlin & Pauline Love, Ray & Barbara Johnston, Jim & Ann Morris, Ray Fandri, Bill Billing, Jim Hickey, Pete Bakotich, Tony Martin, Floyd Martin, Bob Ramercy, and Mack Wilt.

At that first meeting, ideas for club activities, organization and affiliation were discussed. Among those first participants, both national groups were represented, (we are assuming MAFCA and MARC), and it was decided that letters to both groups would be sent requesting helpful information.

A Constitution Committee, including Barbara & Ray Johnston, Pauline & Merlin Love, Celia & Bob Billing, and Tony Martin was appointed to lay the groundwork for developing By-laws. Over the course of three meetings, the Constitution Committee formed our club’s constitution using the By-laws from the two national organizations as well as those from two other local non-Model A car clubs.

The second meeting of our club was held on February 28, 1959, at the home of Celia & Bob Billing. This was just two weeks after the first meeting—these members must have been roaring to go! The tentative By-laws were read and discussed, as well as affiliation plans, club names, and emblem designs. The following names were suggested for the club: Sacramento Model A Club, Capitol A Club and the A Ford Club. A vote of those present selected CAPTIOL A CLUB which had been suggested by Tony Martin.