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China Clipper 75th Anniversary
Nov. 21, 2010—Alameda, CA

China Clipper 75th logo
Poster announcing 75th anniversary celebration of the China Clipper at the Alameda Naval Air Museum

In early November, Lynn receives an email invitation from Gregg Greenwood, auto coordinator for the Art Deco Society of California. The Alameda Naval Air Museum is planning a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the inaugural flight of the China Clipper. They are looking for pre-World-War-II cars to participate in the event. This will be a good test for Ginger as Alemada is a 70-mile round trip from her home in Livermore. Lynn accepts the invitation.

Unfortunately, as the day of the event approaches, the weather forecasts call for rain and indeed it rains all night before and on the morning of the event. By about 10 AM, the clouds break a bit and the doppler radar image on Lynn's smart phone shows no active rain in the area and it's clear to the west. OK, then, let's go for it!

Google map
This shows the 70-mile roundtrip route taken by Ginger.

Lynn and Jeanne don some approximation of 1930s attire and pile into Ginger and drive on the Interstate highway most of the way there and back without incident. Ginger has some occasional vibration in the front wheels that may have simply been tire balance, but Lynn quietly worries about cracked wheels, loose lugs and old tires the entire time. Still, the old girl runs right along with modern traffic at 70 MPH without any other complaints.

The threatening weather causes the organizers to cancel many of the planned activities and move the event indoors. While many owners likely kept their vehicles home, about six collector cars were present for the celebration. Ginger receives a constant stream of interested visitors and Lynn refines his spiel of highlights and historical facts on Cords, in general, and Ginger, in particular.

PanAm Clipper over San Francisco
A photo from Nov. 22, 1935, of the PanAm Clipper over San Francisco.

The event is a reenactment of the departure of the inaugural flight of the China Clipper from Alameda on Nov. 22, 1935. A radio reporter describes the scene for us, introducing a variety of local, national and international dignitaries who each deliver brief speeches. We're told that 95% of the words we hear today are adaptations from transcripts of the words delivered on this day in 1935. The ceremonies do impart some sense of the thrill, excitement and danger of that original event where 25,000 people crowded the piers of the San Francisco Bay to witness the departure of the plane.

To the amusement of the audience, the simulated radio broadcast is replete with several vintage commercial messages for Vimms, Bromo Seltzer and Campbell's Soup.

PanAm Clipper pilot
A PanAm Clipper pilot attends the reenactment.

All the speakers and many in the audience are smartly dressed in authentic clothing of the period which greatly adds to the spirit of the celebration. Unexpectedly for the organizers, a man attending the celebration identifies himself as a PanAm Clipper pilot. After the speeches are over, a queue forms of people who stay to talk and shake hands with the man.

After the celebration, Lynn and Jeanne retire to the New Zealander restaurant and pub for a pleasant dinner and a celebratory toast to Ginger. The Kissels are pleased to see passersby stop to look at Ginger as she is parked on the street in Alameda. They are happy that they took the chance to dart between rain clouds and be part of this celebration of history.

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Copyright © 2015 Lynn Kissel
Last updated: November 22, 2010