The Donut Derelicts...When & How It Started

The Donut Derelicts...When & How It Started

December 7, 1999

There are only a few who come to the Saturday morning gathering at the Adams Avenue Donut Shop that know how and when it all started.  For the curious among you, I'll let you in on the history of the biggest “free” hot rod and classic car get-together in the world (...well, maybe the state,... at least Huntington Beach).

Adams Avenue Donuts, at the corner of Adams and Magnolia, has long been a community meeting place for old timers to gather and discuss the local politics, the list of chores their wives had waiting for them, and other topics of nostalgia.  One of those old timers was a good friend named Ronnie Parrick.

Ronnie would pick up a couple of his neighbors, Ed and Harold, each Saturday for coffee, and an occasional donut. Joined by an aspiring local politician, Mark Porter, we talked about local, state and world politics. Between 7am and 7:30 was always a good time to meet. WOW! Has that changed!

In 1983 or 1984, Tom “Skinney” Witherby, a high school buddy of Ronnie and a very good friend of mine, bought a real nice 1957 Chevy panel delivery. Of course, he had to come over to show off his new toy!  I was so stoked I immediately started looking for the 1957 Chevy Bel Aire I’ve always wanted. As it turned out, Ronnie had a 1930 Ford sedan he was working on. So in February of 1985 we decided to meet at the donut shop with our cars.  We added “bench racing” and “sports” to the morning discussions, replacing some of those less important topics.

After many Saturday morning meetings, one by one, the local street rod owners started to join us.  I remember Tom saying “ of these days the front row will be filled.” Before we knew it, not only was the front row filled the back row and the remainder of the parking lot started to fill.

Many of the same guys have been showing up ever since. Guys like Gil Caton, Bill Avina, “Big John” Swanson, our late friend Dick Frampton, Lance Noel, Steve McElroy, Morie Hivey, Ed “The Wrench” Miller, Ed “The Treasurer” Osepian, Charlie “Flyboy” Reno, Jay Cottington, Bob “wheels” Sage, and Dave Robinson.

The whole thing started to gain momentum. Tom and I thought it would be a good idea to make a list so if anyone needed help or had information on an upcoming event, we could get in touch with each other. The handwritten list was then transferred to my trusty computer making it easier to sort the names alphabetically. 

As each name was entered, I got a mental picture of this sorry group! That thought helped me formulate an appropriate title, the “Doughnut Derelicts” (later changed to “Donut Derelicts”). It didn’t take long before the list grew from the original fifteen - twenty, then thirty, then ninety -plus participants. By the time I got tired of updating the list each week, so I quit.  Some of the guys still have a copy of that original list.  

The word was out!  Every hot rod, street rod, classic and specialty creation from the South Bay to Laguna, and parts unknown had heard about Adams Avenue Donuts coffee shop in Huntington Beach. Now to get a decent parking space, you had to arrive at about 6:30am (well...more to come on that subject!).

We hear stories from out of state people who have heard of our gathering.  Visitors from Australia, Japan, England, and Germany, it had become a tourist stop, simply amazing!

The fine officers of HB Police department join us on occasion to enjoy the show (...something about front license plates and “blue dots”)! We have even had the California Highway Patrol visit us (I think they followed some early out-of-town, hot rod enthusiasts on the 405 Fwy).

I haven’t taken count of the cars lately (last count was over 150) but when the lot is full the parking lots on adjacent corners are used for spill over.

Remember the 6:30am arrival time? Forget it!  If you’re not there by “Oh dark thirty”, you park in the “north forty”!...Norm MOrrison’s roadster has already cooled down, he’s finished his coffee, and has solved most of the world’s problems (or created more, ...but we love ya Norm)! Morie, Rocky, John Clark, Dave...they all camp there Friday night to get a front row spot!  Bobby Spears and Eddie “O” pak wherever they want. Art Chrisman always finds a good place to power park his unbelievable creations. 

Why has it endured all these years? Many reasons!

  1. You won’t find a better collection of street rods anywhere.
  2. We are not an organized group or club.
  3. We have only unwritten rules that include:

          No “burnouts”

        No parking directly in front of the business establishments.

        Being courteous to the paying customers.

  1. We respect each other’s space.
  2. All of the guys and gals are great people!
  3. We enjoy a common hobby
  4. ….and it’s cheap! Doesn’t cost a dime!

We come each Saturday to maral at the beautiful creations of those who have spent thousands of hours, gallons of wax, and tons of money, for a hobby that keeps us out of trouble, cash, and “Honey-dos”.

So! When asked - When and how this thing got started, give the inquisitive a big smile.. And a copy of this.  (unless you have a different version, in which case, I’d sure like to hear it!)

Your Friend,

Jim “Mick” McCain