Having grown up together in Wilton, Halfdan Prahl remembers his late friend Tom “Geeb” Fleming as a good and giving man.
“Above all, probably what anybody would quickly say was how generous he was,” Prahl said. “He just had a good-spirited heart.”
As a Wilton Kiwanis Club member, it was Fleming who started the club’s Classic & Custom Car Show 22 years ago to give local car enthusiasts a place to share their passion with the town.
Last Friday evening, July 7, his legacy was celebrated at the annual event that has come to be known as the Tom “Geeb” Fleming Memorial Cruise Night held in his honor at the Piersall Building parking lot in Wilton Center.
“My father was really good friends with Geeb,” Prahl’s son, Wilton native Burleigh Prahl, said. “I think he’d be happy about it.”
“We come every year,” he said, joining his father in representing two replicas of the more unusual vehicles likely seen anywhere, even at a car cruise — one, Don Garlits’ Wynns Charger, and another the notorious Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham owned by The Duke (John Wayne) in the John Carpenter movie, Escape from New York, complete with permanently mounted chandeliers on the fenders.
“It’s a cruise, not a show, so there is no awarding,” Halfdan Prahl said, noting that he and his son “just want to represent the less-than-typical” with their vehicles.
Others come with more standard, but no less exhilarating, offerings, such as Kevin Murray of Redding, who recently bought his dream car — a 1966 Cadillac El Dorado — which he proudly shared with others.
“I can’t believe I own it,” he said with visible glee. “I’ve been wanting to do something like this someday, and someday is today.”
“I’ve always wanted a classic car,” he said. “And now to be able to find it at this time in my life is unbelievable.”
Den Taylor, a past president of the Wilton Kiwanis Club who grew up in Wilmington, DE, said he’s loved vintage cars since he worked as a teenager at a local Ford dealership as a “lot boy.”
“We’re the generation that used to go to the drag strips … Post-World War II, Beach Boys music,” he said.
He likened the car show to “basically a mobile antique show,” and praised it as something special the Wilton Kiwanis Club offers the town.
“It gives an entirely different side to Kiwanis,” he said.