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Still cruisin' after all these years

October 24, 2000

Still cruisin' after all these years



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


WILLIAMSPORT - He may be 92, but Ed Kemp is still cruising.

The active Williamsport resident is traveling the roads of his native Washington County in style in the 2001 PT Cruiser that he recently won in a sweepstakes sponsored by the Washington Area Chrysler Plymouth Dealers' Advertising Association.

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"This is the only thing I've ever really won of much importance," said Kemp, who picked up his new $18,500 car from Hoffman Automotive in Hagerstown on Friday.

"It rides like a dream," he said.

Kemp was the one lucky winner out of the thousands of people who submitted their entry forms to the dealership on South Edgewood Drive, sales consultant Carol Miller said.

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The retired accountant said he entered the contest because he's a longtime fan of Chrysler engineering, but he never expected to win. He hasn't hit the prize jackpot in decades, since he won a quarter of a cow's worth of beef at a local grocery store's grand opening.

Kemp said he hung up on the sweepstakes representative who called to tell him the good news because he thought the man was a telemarketer.

When he realized four days and several phone messages later that the representative was calling to tell Kemp that he was the winner, "I didn't faint, but I was very much surprised," he said.

He requested a five-speed manual transmission.

The engine stalled a few times as Kemp backed his new car out of his parking space at Hoffman Automotive on Monday. He chuckled. The clutch will take a bit of getting used to since Kemp has driven an automatic for the past 18 years, he said.

"I'm like a new driver with my stick shift," said Kemp, who has had his driver's license since 1924.

The first vehicle he drove was a 1918 Dodge touring car, and his interest in auto mechanics was sparked when his father overhauled the Dodge's engine in the basement, he said.

"I can tear a car apart and put it back together again," he said.

The 50-year member of the Hagerstown Municipal Band worked at a Chrysler dealer in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1933, and has owned several Plymouths and a 1977 Chrysler Newport that he drove for 18 years.

"It was a good old car," Kemp said. "Big as a house."

The PT Cruiser's roomy interior features plenty of space for his tennis rackets.

Kemp, who helped organize Little League baseball in Hagerstown, has enjoyed playing tennis for 76 years and still plays doubles with a group at Hagerstown Community College during the summer months, he said.

Kemp also volunteers at least twice a week at the John R. Marsh Cancer Center on Robinwood Drive. He said his friends at the cancer center are eager to ride in his new car.

His only passenger thus far has been Hazel Kemp, his wife of 56 years.

Kemp chose a taupe color for his car's exterior because he thought the hue was unusual and because Hazel "has a pair of taupe shoes and I thought they were pretty," he said.

The couple on Sunday gave their 1995 Ford Taurus to their grandson. They will do all their local traveling in their "economical" and "very roomy four-cylinder" PT Cruiser, Kemp said.

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