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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane men recognized for preserving automotive history

John Clarizio is the proud owner of an unrestored 1936 Ford Station Wagon. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
John Clarizio is the proud owner of an unrestored 1936 Ford Station Wagon. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

For John Clarizio and Jerry Click, their vintage trucks are more than the sum of their parts. The vehicles are also an important part of automobile history. And the two Spokane men aren’t the only ones who recognize their significance: Clarizio’s 1936 Ford Station Wagon is currently featured in Vintage Trucks magazine, and Click’s 1925 Maxwell will be in an upcoming issue.

For Clarizio, his love of cars was passed down while he passed tools to his father underneath a 1936 Ford pickup, a vehicle he still owns.

“I used to help him work on the car, and change the oil, so that’s how I really got involved, with my dad, because he was always into trucks and Fords,” Clarizio said.

A piece of his dad lives on in the station wagon: In 1959, his dad removed the distributor from the Ford pickup, and when Clarizio asked his brothers if they had any of their dad’s old parts, the distributor surfaced and Clarizio made the decision to put it into the station wagon.

“The heartbeat of the woodie is my dad’s truck,” Clarizio said. “It was out of my dad’s truck.”

Clarizio’s father died eight years ago, and he said he would have been proud of Clarizio being in the magazine and would have purchased copies for all of his friends.

“I think he would have bought every magazine in town,” Clarizio said. “You kind of get a little emotional because your dad taught you what you know.”

The pride his father doubtlessly would have had is a far cry from his reaction to Clarizio’s purchase of a Volkswagen Thing, which he acknowledges aren’t safe and described as a “tin can with doors on them.”

“My dad’s walking around and he goes, ‘Do you still have the 5 acres you live on?’ ” Clarizio said. “I go, ‘Yeah,’ and he goes, ‘Boy, you should have bought a horse.’ That’s the kind of humor he had, that off-the-wall stuff.”

Click, the 2019 Historical Auto Society of Spokane & Inland Empire chairman, originally acquired his Maxwell in an attempt to work around a pesky rule in a small town in Texas. For four years, he and his wife owned Cottage Rose, a small gift store in Fulsher, Texas, and the mayor enforced a rule that did not allow large advertisements.

“I thought that it would be a good idea … to put a vehicle out in front that we could paint or put a sign, advertise the business on the side of the vehicle that just happened to be parked in front of the business,” Click said.

Enter Al Prame, from Grand Island, New York, who had spent nearly a decade fixing up the 1925 Maxwell. In the airport on the way to a monthlong trip to Indonesia, Click saw an advertisement in Hemmings Motor News for Prame’s car. He called him immediately, and Prame agreed to hold the car for Click until he got back from his trip. Immediately after flying home, he took the next flight to Buffalo, New York, to see the car.

“I landed, got home and 12 hours later, I’m on an airplane headed to Buffalo,” Click said. “My wife was not really happy with that.”

Prame’s love for the car was apparent. The house had multiple pictures of the Maxwell, including a 24-by-36-inch photo hanging over the mantle. The love was so apparent Click was confused why Prame would be selling the car in the first place.

“He told me that he had been to too many auctions where the widow was selling off the husband’s vehicles,” Click said. “He did not want to do that to Goldie, so he was going to sell it while they were both healthy and could choose where the truck would go.”

Al’s wife, Goldie, and Al’s fingerprints were all over the vehicle. The two had painted “Big Al’s Speak Easy Supplies” in old-fashioned lettering and “Goldie Girl Champagne” on the side. Given the care and love Al and Goldie had put into the car, Click felt he couldn’t change the paint job, which ultimately saved him. When an inspector came to his store because the Maxwell was reported for breaking the advertisement rules, the inspector realized there was nothing to be done about a car that wasn’t even advertising Click’s establishment.

“I felt he didn’t want to be doing what he was doing,” Click said. “He took a look at it, and he just kind of smiled and gave me a thumbs-up signal and said, ‘You’re good, I see no problems here, I’ll go tell the mayor.’ ”

When someone chooses to sell automobiles like these, it often isn’t a simple cash transaction. In Clarizio’s case, he was found to be a suitable owner because of his kindness toward the owner’s friend. Clarizio had been placing ads in Woodie Times magazine seeking a slighty modified or stock 1936 Ford woodie, and he received a phone call from an interested seller.

“He says, ‘Do you want to listen to my whole story?’ ” Clarizio said. “He says, ‘You’re not going to hang up on me?’ I said, ‘Nope.’ ”

The seller had made multiple modifications to the car, including a John Deere-green paint job with John Deere-yellow wheels.

The woodie wasn’t Clarizio’s style, but the seller was able to connect him to an appropriate seller who chose to sell to Clarizio because he was the only person who hadn’t hung up on his friend. Clarizio had originally intended to make major modifications to the vehicle because he prefers a “hot rod” type of car, but when he got the car home, he realized he couldn’t. The woodie has original wood, floormats, three-quarter side windows, spider hubcaps and a clock on the glovebox door.

One reason Click’s Maxwell stood out to Vintage Truck was because 1925 was Maxwell’s last year, Click said.

“I feel honored to be able to have that truck in the magazine, and have the magazine recognize the historical importance of that truck,” Click said. “It is nice to see your concern and care for an antique vehicle be recognized.”

The Historical Auto Society of Spokane & Inland Empire will host an all-original car show for vintage and classic cars on Sept. 7. For Click and Clarizio, the show is a chance to be around people who share their interest, network with others who have tips of the trade and introduce the obsession to interested parties.

“People can come, trade ideas about restorations, about keeping this old iron running,” Click said. “It’s just a ground to share ideas and meet other folks with the same interests.”

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