Sandwiched between pictures of his six kids and nine grandkids, Don Goss of Orrington keeps a photo of another family member: his 1932 Ford Model B pick-up.
For 35 years, Don and Elaine Goss drove the baby blue truck in parades, packed it up for adventures to Bar Harbor and Calais and took it to the ice cream store. When the couple went to auto shows, they used the pickup to pull their 1925 Chenaco camper, another historic set of wheels.
Now, the only antique vehicle in the couple’s garage is a shiny red Thunderbird. They donated the camper to Bangor’s Cole Land Transportation Museum in 1989, and a few years ago, they handed over the Ford to go with it.
“We wanted it to go somewhere so the most people could see it,” Don Goss said. “It’s safe in there.”
The truck was one of the last major artifacts (items bicycle-sized or larger) the museum accepted. Owner Galen Cole had to stop taking donations because he couldn’t squeeze anything else into the acre-sized exhibit space. The enormous room is filled wall to wall with bits of transportation history.
“If it’s traveled on the land in Maine in the last 200 years, it’s represented here,” Director of Operations Jim Neville said.
The 1,500 relics on the museum floor range from a locomotive to a set of potato diggers. The cavernous room houses the largest collection of snow removal equipment in America.
“I still see stuff that I’m like, ‘When did that show up?’ and it’s been here forever,” Neville said.
A space off “Nostalgia Circle,” one of the museum’s many mock streets lined with cobblestones, is the camper’s new home. It boasts old-school, wood artillery wheels revolving on Timkin bearings, an icebox and a propane stove. When it was originally sold in 1925, the vehicle fetched $348.
The Gosses bought the tent camper off a Gouldsboro resident in 1986 and spent three years towing it to auto shows around the state. They even slept on its two 48-inch-wide beds for one weekend at a Maine Obsolete Auto League show in Boothbay Harbor.
“In a rainstorm, too,” Elaine Goss said. “It didn’t leak!”
The couple purchased the camper’s towing vehicle, the four-cylinder truck, in 1979. The Model B was the first Ford pick-up with a fuel pump, which meant the gas tank was located under the seat and the battery under the driver’s side floorboard. The truck is a rare find — after looking through museums and collections throughout the United States and Canada, Don Goss has only found five other 1932 pickups, he said.
The truck sat in front of the Goss family’s camper business, Don’s Camping of Brewer, when it wasn’t on the road.
“They sold antifreeze out of it,” said Shirlee Smith, the Gosses’ oldest daughter. “They did a kind of tier stacking of the bottles so that they would stand up over the back of the truck in the body of the pickup.”
The camper business was part of the family for 32 years. Smith said the couple’s grandchildren loved playing around the lot, pretending the campers were their houses and following around “Nana” and “Bampi” while they worked.
The two sold the business about 10 years ago and now live in Orrington, where their garage is lined with Don Goss’s extensive license plate collection. Their six trophies with plastic cars on top are displayed on a table in the back of the garage.
The Gosses said they visit the Cole Museum often to see what’s new and check up on their former possessions, which also include a potato digger and a 1923 license plate.
“It’s going to be there long after we’re gone,” Elaine Goss said. “It’s a good, safe family foundation.”
Cole Land Transportation Museum
Where: 450 Perry Road, Bangor
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Sunday
How much: $7 per adult, $5 per person 62 and over.
Children under 19 free.
Contact: 990-3600, www.colemuseum.org