The beginning of the “official” history of the Just Us Street Rod Club, inc. is as different for each of the original seven charter members as the cars they drive. For some it started on the road to the 1985 Street Rod Nationals held in St. Paul, Minnesota. Some remember it starting at a meeting in Logan’s Garage in 1986 where Rich Shar, a member of The St. Louis Street Rod Association, shared a copy of his organizations Charter. Others say it was at a meeting in 1987 in a bar in Webster Groves, Missouri where we reached agreement on the first reason for traveling as a Club. There is general agreement that for one of the founders it started the moment he was rejected for membership in another local club. Whatever the official start date the Club has grown to thirty members in three States and continues to grow.
The seven founding members were Herb Gamble, President, Larry Harris, Business Manager, Steve Furr, Secretary, John O’Neal, Treasurer, Ed White, Willie Lee, and Irv Logan. Five of the charter members are still active. Past President Herb Gamble relocated to Hattiesburg, Mississippi many years ago and still owns a street rod. Charter member Larry Harris was tragically killed April 22, 2000 in a traffic accident. He was the Club’s first fatality. His loss was followed by the loss of fellow Club members, Willie Brown, who was awaiting a lung transplant and Willie Moore who passed of a sudden heart attack. All were devoted “car guys” and are greatly missed by the Club.
The primary motivation for the formation of the Club was safety. In fact, the first rule established by the Club charter was “Safety First.” The following are the five rules to be a Club member in good standing:
- Safety First
- All for one and one for all
- Treat others as you want to be treated
- Respect yourself
- Have fun
The first decision made at the initial meeting was what to name the group. After some discussion and many lame suggestions Larry Harris said, “Maybe we should name ourselves “Just Us” because other Clubs don’t want us? We all looked at one another and quickly agreed, “That’s it! That is who we are!”
Larry Harris, the first Business Manager, agreed to handle all of the legal matters to obtain our charter and so we begin.
The other matter handled in the very beginning was the decision to travel together whenever possible and for each member to pay into the Club treasury ten dollars every month. The purpose of the initial dues money was to provide an emergency road fund to cover expenses related to a car breakdown traveling. We thought if we put aside $500.00 dollars then that would be enough to rent a trailer, buy a part, or make a repair to get a car back home. That money if and when it was used was to be replaced back in the fund upon the users return home or at least by the next Club meeting. Funny thing, since that fund was established it’s never been used. Not once has any Club member had to use it. That’s not to say there has not been times when it could have been used… but as a group we’ve always been capable and able to fix, move, or leave a car safe & sound.
The first group outing was to the Radius Rod Run in Pocahontas, IL. Larry Harris led the way driving his 1937 Ford humpback 2dr sedan. Herb Gamble driving his 1939 Chevy, Ed White, his 1929 Model A Ford Coupe, Willie Lee, his 1947 Mercury Club Coupe, John O’Neal his 1930 chopped Blown Ford Coupe, Irv Logan, his 1933 Ford coupe and Steve Furr, in his 1930 Model A coupe. That was the first of many ongoing trips to Pocahontas, IL.
Larry, a decorated Special Forces Viet Nam War Veteran, came back from “Nam” and promptly proceeded to build not only a 454 powered 92” short wheel based1923 Ford “T” bucket roadster but a Volkswagen powered one man helicopter. Which he stored and flew out of the old Creve Coeur Airstrip in the Chesterfield Bottoms of St. Louis County, Missouri.
Eventually, since he was a paratrooper, he started skydiving from perfectly good airplanes with other likeminded folks in Quincy, Illinois. There he discovered the Early Tin Dusters Annual Fall Color Run rod run and suggested the Club attend. That is how the Club started going to the Fall Color Rod Run every year.
Because some Club members had small children traveling along often times we decided to “cook out” rather than eat every meal in restaurants.
Over the years there have been many memorable rod runs.
Just Us Ice Run History
We have often been asked about the origins of the New Years Day “Ice Run”
The “Ice Run” started officially in 1995. Larry Harris decided to show up at Just Us Club member, Irv Logan’s house bright and early on New Year’s morning that year. He drove up the driveway in his 1937 Ford Sedan and rapped the pipes. It was about seven o’clock and of course it woke up all of the neighbors. Logan ran out and asked Larry what the hell was going on?
Larry and Pat, his wife, got out and started for the door. I held the door open for Pat to enter and Larry stopped her.
He said, “Hold on Pat I have to go in first!”
He then proceeded into the house and walked through every room with me following!
I asked Larry “what the hell is this all about?” Larry replied, “ Its tradition, you know.”
I responded “tradition ~what *#@$ tradition?” He said “ It’s like not lighting three cigarettes with one match… you don’t want to be the third man. It’s about luck and tradition.”
I said “Larry what the *#@$ are you talking about?”
Larry replied “ I was always told that the first person through your door in the New Year should be a man, a man you trusted and that way the rest of the year you would have good luck and prosperity.”
Needless to say after hearing that I said “How about we go get breakfast some place and then we’ll go to your house!”
Larry replied, “I had hoped you would say that! ” and we both laughed as the wives rolled their eyes.
We decided Chuck-A-Burger restaurant would be the logical choice since we were in our hot rods and that’s how the first “Ice Run” started.
The next year Carman Little, Mike Warford and Willie Brown joined Larry and I and it grew from there. Early on we decided we would be the first to actually “cruise” in St. Louis if we started early on New Years day. We quickly decided to spend more time behind the wheel and so in 1997 we drove from Chuck-A-Burger over to the Clayton Road Parkmoor restaurant for another meal. Breakfast at Chuck-A-Burger and two hours later Brunch at Parkmoor restaurant. Then it was home to let the TV watch us!
The whole idea behind the cruise was to be sure we got together as soon as we could in the New Year. The thought was if something happened to one of us before the “official” start of the cruise season on Easter Sunday of that year we would have at least made one run together.
Tragically, three Club members have been lost since we started the “Ice Run”. All three did get to cruise with the group on the first day of the year they crossed over to the other side.
The “Ice Run” is now an unofficial memorial run in honoring of all hot rodders who have passed in the years gone by.
The event has grown way bigger than the Club ever expected! From a few Just Us Club cars at Chuck-A-Burger, it’s now a multi-club event with folks driving through all kind of weather from as far as Detroit, Mi. and Chicago, Il and cities in between to attend.
There are pictures of cars covered in snow and ice as well as folks standing outside in freezing weather waiting to get in to eat. However most of the time the weather has been great for the event.
About 2005 the gathering reached eighty-five cars and they cruised from the “old” Chuck-A-Burger to a “new” Chuck-A-Burger” out in St. Charles, Mo. What a sight! The lucky civilians who witnessed that cruise couldn’t believe what they were seeing…. all those old hot rods rolling down the interstate in the winter in Missouri! Those witnesses know hot rodders aren’t “scared” of a little cold & snow!
2009 marked the first time,the cruise ended at Blueberry Hill in University City, Mo. Home base of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Chuck Berry! Chuck wasn’t there either time but it was worth the trip just to see all of the memorabilia in the place. If you are from somewhere else and are ever in St. Louis it’s worth a visit. The “Delmar Loop” has been voted one of the ten best streets in America for good reason.