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Tyrone ninth graders visit auto museum and restaurant

As Easter holiday dawned on the horizon on April 5, twenty students from Tyrone High’s ninth grade English/History Academy traveled in a school bus driven by Mr. Wilson Catherman to the Swigart Antique Automobile Museum, located three miles east of Huntingdon along Route 22. Following their Swigart Museum Tour, students, teachers and bus chauffeur had lunch at Hoss’s Restaurant in Huntingdon.
English teacher Richard Merryman and history teacher Suzy Burket chaperoned the Tyrone freshman on this enrichment field trip. Both instructors indicated that because ninth graders study American history from the 1920s until the present, Huntingdon’s antique automobile museum would allow Tyrone students a firsthand glimpse of the fascinating vehicles that appeared on the American and world landscape in those long ago years around World War I.
Swigart Museum Tour Guide Dean Tyler enthusiastically conducted the ninth graders on a trip back in time to those earliest years of the automobile. Mr. Tyler informed the students that Huntingdon’s Swigart Museum stands as the oldest automobile museum in the nation. Established in 1920 by Huntingdon native Emmet Swigart, for the much of the last century, this car collection was owned and managed by Emmet’s son, William Swigart, Jr. Following the passing of Bill Swigart in 2000, the museum now operates under the direction of Mr. Swigart’s second wife Patricia Swigart.
During the tour, museum associate Dean Tyler and secretary Marjorie Cutright explained that the Swigart Museum owns more than one hundred antique automobiles, with about 30 cars on exhibit at any one time. Given tender loving care by a staff of highly trained automobile enthusiasts, these vehicles from a Bygone Era are stored both at the car museum along Route 22, as well as in some large storage buildings in downtown Huntingdon. In addition to automobiles, the Swigart Museum also serves as curator for license plates, radiator emblems, horns, toys, antique bicycles and period clothing.
Tour guides emphasized that normally the Swigart Museum remains open from Memorial Day Weekend in May until the last weekend in October. Normal operating hours are 9 to 5 daily during those months with a $6 admission fee for adults, while senior citizens and children receive special discounts. More than 10,000 visitors tour the Swigart Museum each season. Tourists seeking special museum information should telephone the museum office at 643-0885, or explore www.swigartmuseum.com.
Highlights of the ninth graders tour included the opportunity to see automobiles by Ford, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Duesenberg. Tour guides indicated that the 1903 curved dashboard Oldsmobile appeared to be Bill Swigart’s favorite car. A twelve-cylinder, 1936 Duesenberg also rests at the museum, the actual car owned by Hollywood actor Jackie Coogan.
For Tyrone ninth graders, the most spectacular cars proved to be a trio of cars debuted in Walt Disney’s 1969 blockbuster movie, The Love Bug. Museum curator Dean Tyler informed the students that the Swigarts own three Volkswagons from the famous Disney movies: the car from Herbie Rides Again, a beaten up Stunt Herbie and the vehicle from Herbie Rides Again. Several years ago, veteran Tyrone metal shop teacher and Houtzdale Native Edward Vancas toured the Swigart Museum and came away so impressed with the Herbie Cars that he decided to name one of his French Poodles Herbie.
Following the tour of America’s oldest automobile museum, Tyrone ninth graders and their chaperones journeyed to Hoss’s Restaurant, along Route 22 in Huntingdon, for an enjoyable lunch. Each student had the opportunity to order from Hoss’s varied menu and the responsibility to pay for their own lunch themselves.
At the close of lunch, the manager of the Huntingdon branch of Hoss’s, Mr. Eric Lindberg, presented A Lecture On Careers in Restaurant Management to Tyrone’s freshman. Mr. Lindberg pointed out that Hoss’s Restaurant has its corporate headquarters in Duncansville, PA. He noted that the Huntingdon branch of this chain restaurant corporation needs to take in approximately $38,000 per week, simply to pay its weekly financial obligations.
An employee of Hoss’s for the past 17 years, Manager Lindberg exuded enthusiasm for serving others through the restaurant enterprise. He noted that he loved the wide diversity of people whom he could serve as Hoss’s Restaurant manager. In addition, he rejoiced that he sometimes has the privilege of taste-testing Hoss’s finest dishes, but also expressed regret that he has to rise at five each morning and to endure incredible stress when equipment in the restaurant kitchen dysfunctions.
Tyrone ninth graders questioned Manager Lindberg about everything from food-ordering methods, to training employees, to coping with food service competition. Lindberg fielded the questions with good-humored ease. At the close, in the style of a careful professional, Lindberg cautioned the students that the most expensive piece of equipment in his Huntingdon Restaurant was an empty customer chair. Lamented Lindberg, “If many chairs in the restaurant stand empty today, that is profit lost that you cannot recover tomorrow.”
As the clock neared 1 p.m., ninth graders said good-bye to their restaurant host. With their physical and intellectual appetites satisfied, students boarded their school bus to journey back to Tyrone High more informed about the story of the automobile and the challenges of restaurant management as they turned their sights to a relaxing Easter holiday with friends and family.