Willis Rivinus – 1


Will Rivinus, circa 1950

Name of interviewee:  Willis Rivinus
Date of birth/age at interview:  1928/86
Interviewer:  Jack Donohue
Interview date:  November 21, 2014
Interview location:  Rivinus home
Interview length:  39 minutes
Time span discussed:  1950s until 2014

Summary:  Will gives us the story of the New Hope Auto Show, which started under his (and many others’) stewardship in 1958. The show was preceded by the New Hope Horse Show, which had been a fixture for a few years.


Time markers:
00:00 – introduction
00:38 – in 1958 New Hope/Solebury Community Association, built gymnasium for high school; Association sponsorship of the New Hope Horse Show; problem of no audience (Will mentions 1958 as the first year, but the official web site says 1957.)
01:50 – volunteer work at the horse show, importance of the Horse Show to the community
03:22 – problem more horses than audience
04:20 – set up of the auto show, reflections on the first 20 years
05:15 – Charles “Chuck” Renfrew, John Leydon, Pat Livzey, Buckingham Sports Club active in early years
06:16 – active in organizational end and involving other organizations like firemen, fire police, Boy Scouts for food service
07:30 – need for early publicity gimmick, Jimmy Hamilton suggested bamboo poles and banners on them all along Route 202 (which went through New Hope in 1958), 200 cars and 2000 visitors in first year
09:50 – story of Jimmy Staats from Lambertville, restored Oldsmobile cars from 1903 and 1904
10:57 – signing up the Automobile Clubs, like the Ford Model A Club, their help in running show, set up and taught the team the processes needed
12:01 – 2000 brands of cars initially produced in the USA; collectors needed shows to display their cars
13:10 – some local collectors brought cars, others from larger area, by fourth year the show had name, very successful
14:20 – inviting a truck class; why Will allowed motorcycles
15:12 – showing and accepting special clubs, like the Edsel Club, Model A Club, Rolls Royce Owners Club
16:50 – new car dealers with booths; today 200 to 300 cars
18:20 – show has outgrown space; story about moving to Del-Val College for one year
19:41 – three things from early days no longer done: a mileage calculator rally for older cars, a traditional road rally, a Miss New Hope beauty pageant
22:06 – Roger Conduit, a Doylestown radio announcer, could talk, knowingly about all old automobiles for 8 hours non-stop, one year assisted by New York City radio personality Gene Shepherd; story of his show on WABC
25:40 – one major problem, entertainer Paul Whiteman brought orchestra of retired friends for one night; those working show were already home and gymnasium temperature was about 90
29:30 – entered two cars, a 1936 Rolls Royce and a MG-TD
31:05 – involved for about 15 years
31:32 – Community Association still exists, proceeds go to scholarship awards to the local high school students
33:07 – the year the show was transferred to Del Val
34:01 – steam calliope one year, heard all over the valley
36:30 – show has matured, helped to start something interesting
37:15 – nephew John Leydon, one of the original founder’s children, enters and wins awards at the 2013 and 2014 show
38:18 – show has assumed a life of its own

Will Rivinus recording 2, floods.
Will Rivinus recording 3, authored books.
Will Rivinus recording 4, FODC.
Will Rivinus recording 5, restaurants.
Will Rivinus recording 6, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.

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