In downtown Seymour, on the third Sunday of the month, it’s not unusual for an impromptu car show to pop up on the corner of Chestnut and Second streets.
That’s where members of Seymour’s newest car club typically meet to discuss their passion for classic cars and the “good old days.”
Seymour Area Cruisers was the idea of Tom Gray, a local auto enthusiast who grew up hanging out on the same corner the club now uses today.
“This is where I would be on Friday and Saturday nights back in the day when everyone would come downtown to scoop the loop,” Gray said.
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The practice of scooping the loop died out in the late 1990s after police banned teens from loitering downtown in response to residents’ and business owners’ complaints of noise and littering.
The official resurgence of Scoop the Loop five years ago as an annual event got Gray and some of his friends to recalling their younger years and their fond memories of the Seymour car scene.
Out of those conversations came the suggestion of forming a car club to relive those days gone by, Gray said.
“Several of us had known each other for years, and there were several we had just met through Scoop the Loop,” he said.
The first unofficial meeting was Aug. 23, 2014, in Gray’s garage. There were 10 people in attendance.
“It was just 10 guys that thought we’d have a good time together,” Gray said. “Issues were discussed and bylaws were set in place, and the Seymour Area Cruisers was formed.”
They didn’t really know where it would go from there, he said.
But the club now has 43 members and their spouses.
“It surprised us how many were interested,” Gray said. “We get more and more people all the time.”
Membership requirements include having a love for anything on wheels, especially vintage cars and trucks, and ownership of at least one vehicle worthy of entering in car shows or a project car with the potential.
“You have to be 16 and have a driver’s license to be a member, but we’ve got some younger ones that go to everything, too,” Gray said.
Kegan Banister, 18, of Norman, just completed his first year of membership and is the club’s youngest official member.
“They asked me if I wanted to join, and I said, ‘Sure,'” Banister said.
He started working on his 1974 Plymouth Scamp when he was just 15 years old. Now that it’s finished, he’s working on a 1969 Dodge Dart DTS.
“My dad bought a green 1971 Duster, and I’ve just always been around them,” Banister said of classic cars.
Banister said the older guys in the club like to give him a hard time, but he also learns a lot from them, too.
Dennis Russell of Seymour has been in the club since the beginning.
“The one thing about car guys is that they normally get along well,” Russell said. “You share a common interest, and a little at a time, you get to know each other.”
And there’s never a lack of conversation, he said.
Russell enjoys telling the story behind his 1966 Mustang Coupe.
“My wife loves this car,” he said. “That’s the only vehicle I’ve ever bought that I didn’t have to talk her into it.”
When Russell admitted he was thinking of buying the Mustang, his wife said they didn’t need one. But after she saw the pictures, she quickly changed her tune.
“She looked at it and said, ‘When are we getting it?'” he said.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Seymour Area Cruisers must be sponsored by a current member who has been in the club for at least a year.
“We kind of limited it,” Gray said. “We could be twice the size we are, but we don’t want it to get too out of hand.”
There are no club dues or membership fees because it’s not about making money, Gray said.
“We’re just here to have a good time,” he said.
Besides participating in car shows, Seymour Area Cruisers has conducted its own local informal cruise-in at Sonic Drive-In and has organized a slot car race in the winter and a model car contest in the spring for members and their families.
“It’s not just sitting around talking about cars,” Gray said. “We try to keep people involved.”
On Aug. 27, club members will help park cars at Redeemer Lutheran Church’s annual Cruise with the Son car show, and that evening, the club will be downtown for the fifth annual Scoop the Loop.
For Russell, going to Scoop the Loop is a way to relive memories.
“Anybody that grew up in this area in the older days, the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and even the ’80s, it was like a right of passage coming up here and cruising around,” he said. “It’s a shame it ended.”
The Friday night before Scoop the Loop, Seymour Area Cruisers is partnering with This Old Guitar Music Store in downtown Seymour to sponsor the inaugural Pre-Scoop Cruise-In and Car Show from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Robertson and Walnut Street parking lots.
That event is a fundraiser for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 108’s Cops and Kids program.
“We’re excited about getting to do a car show and help raise money for such a great cause,” Gray said.
Russell agreed and said he loves the idea of getting the club involved more in the community.
Bill and Jerrie Keck of North Vernon are two of the newest members of the Seymour Area Cruisers. They were sponsored by Margaret Wilson, a former Seymour resident who now lives in West Virginia.
“We never had a car, and I bought this one for his birthday in January,” Jerrie said of their 1965 red Nova. “It’s the car we dated in, so I wanted to get one that was restored.”
The Kecks said their interest in classic cars started with Scoop the Loop.
“We came to the first one, and Bill was standing there and he said, ‘There’s my dream car,'” Jerrie said. “He saw that ’65, and I thought, ‘I’m going to buy that for our 25th wedding anniversary.'”
Due to some serious medical issues, she was unable to get the car then. After she got healthy again, she decided she didn’t want to wait any longer.
Now, she’s happy she didn’t, and so is her husband.
The couple are looking forward to the upcoming car show and Scoop the Loop and being active members of the Seymour Area Cruisers.
That’s why Bill wanted to join the club.
“She needs to do something besides work all the time, and this is something we can do together,” he said.
“So I’m doing it for him, and he’s doing it for me,” Jerrie said of joining the club.
The Seymour Area Cruisers is an outlet for people like the Kecks with a common interest in cars to bond and learn from each other.
Gray said that is what has attracted so many people and what will keep the club going for years to come.
“It’s the camaraderie,” he said. “A lot of us here are just trying not to get old.”