Snohomish students, granddad restore school icon

SNOHOMISH — Snohomish High School seniors Nick Breske and Cody Shurtz wanted to build a chopper motorcycle and give it to the school for the Serpentine parade and other activities.

Assistant Principal Gordy Brockman told the 18-year-olds the school already had something like that: A 1928 Ford Model AA nicknamed Oscar. The truck used to lead homecoming parades and served as a concession stand during football games from the 1960s into the 1980s.

Since then, the truck had been packed away into storage. It was the iconic symbol Nick was looking for.

“So why not bring it back and make it better?” he asked.

They knew it was going to take a lot of work, so they recruited two other students, and Nick’s grandfather.

Don Bowie, 76, and a retired Boeing engineer, had experience restoring Model AA trucks; he even owns one. For Bowie, the project was a good way to pursue a hobby he loves and to spend time with his grandson.

“It worked out great, and we helped the school,” Bowie said.

Since last fall, the group has worked weekly on restoring the truck.

The engine and brake system had to be rebuilt. They also worked on the radiator and vehicle’s body.

“We had to clean and rebuild almost everything,” Nick said.

Last Friday, the group installed the gas tank, the wiring and the engine cowling. They tested the engine and when they confirmed it worked, gassed the truck up. This week, they drove through the high school parking lot, reaching 25 mph.

Now, with the mechanical and technical work done, other students can start restoring and installing the popcorn machine from the vehicle’s concession-stand days, as well as finishing body work.

“That’s something the teachers and students can do from now on,” Bowie said.

Brockman, the assistant principal, hopes current and former students will work on Oscar. There is talk of involving computer assisted design and shop classes.

The school stopped using Oscar as a concession stand in the mid-1980s when a new stadium was built. After that, the school’s Automotive Technology Program kept the truck, which was brought out during homecoming and the Serpentine where students wend through town in their school colors. In the 1990s, the truck was dismantled for a restoration that didn’t occur. When Snohomish High was renovated, the automotive shop was removing some old equipment and Oscar was put in storage, Brockman said.

The truck ties together decades of Snohomish High alumni, and when it’s restored, a tradition will get new life, said Steve Cotterill, director of career and technical education at Snohomish School District.

Cotterill, who taught at Snohomish High while Oscar was still in use, supervised the students working on the truck.

“Oscar has become a tradition that students of four or five decades have experienced,” Cotterill said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422;

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