Steve Sturtz introduced me to Dustin Truesdell and his unique hobby.
Steve’s photographs that caught my attention, covered an event held on January 30th, 2016 – the 4th Annual Vintage Snowmobile Show - sponsored by the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce.
As a lady editor, you may think I would not be interested, but you would be wrong. My first husband, Eliot Smith and I were given an early 1970s Skidoo as a present, when we lived in Ville de Léry, Quebec. It was yellow, slow and beloved! He drove, I sat on the back and yelled. Our second machine, which we called “The Pig,” was big and heavy, blue, with an electric starter and a trailer hitch to load up a sled for our children. Those were happy days.
It seems I am not the only Islander who is interested in the subject, for this year’s show brought avid fans as well as bystanders to see the Truesdell family – Randy, Gayle and Dustin organize their show and to learn more about this unique hobby.
It was back in the 1950s that Joe Truesdell, Dustin’s grandfather, owned the Texaco Station in Alex Bay. Not only did he service and sell automobiles, but in the early ‘60s they brought the Polaris snowmobiles to this part of the North Country. The business was brisk in those early years, but when the car sales became the main focus, the snowmobiles were put in storage.
One day in 2008 Dustin and his father took one machine, a 1964 Sno-Traveler, out of storage and before the day was over they had her running. Dustin realized that working on the mechanics was fascinating and very soon after he became an avid Vintage Snowmobile enthusiast. And like all hobbyists, the collection began to grow.
Today, Dustin travels around the State attending Vintage Shows and promoting the hobby. It was back in 2011, when he realized that mounting a show in his home town could be useful; “when snowmobiles became popular in the 1960s and 70s, many islanders came up to the River for weekends and getting to their island by snowmobile was not unusual. So I thought, why not celebrate this heritage and show the old machines and their equipment here.”
Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce and interested media, this year was no exception. “We were just as enthusiastic, but most of us were disappointed by the warm weather in January and the lack of snow. But never-the-less, over 50 machines were on display and their history was brought to life once again on the streets of Alexandria Bay.”
This winter the star of the show was what Dustin describes as the first motorized snow vehicle, a Model T Ford! Its home is in Waddington, and unlike others of its vintage, it is not in a museum, but rather lovingly taken care of and shared with winter communities.
Steve Sturtz and I want to express our appreciation, by thanking Dustin for becoming a community leader and bringing history and business to Alexandra Bay, at a time when it is most needed – mid-winter!
It is not too early to start planning for the 2017 show, check the barn and shed, perhaps you have a vintage machine tucked away. The Show is always held on the last Saturday in January. Enjoy the show!
By Susan W. Smith, Editor / Steve Sturtz Photographs
Steve Sturtz photographs can be viewed on his Facebook page. He was profiled in Steve Sturtz, the Man Behind the Lens…, February 2016 TI Life issue.