Beltsville Shell Reunion #19

June 25, 2023

On September 29, 2023 we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of "Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive".

Throughout those 20 years we have had a Beltsville Shell Reunion almost every year (COVID and all), in which 104 different people have attended.  From the first reunion in 2002, when eight friends met at Kaufmann's Tavern in Gambrills, Maryland, until now, the total attendance stands at 389.

We decided to celebrate the anniversary of the book's publication a few months early, so this year we met at Herman's garage on June 25th.  This was the twelfth time Herman has hosted the event.  How can I ever adequately thank Herman, and those people who come to assist him, in providing a home for these reunions, in Beltsville, and for their kindness in hosting them?

Summer arrived gently this year in Beltsville and blessed us with nice weather.  The turnout was the second highest ever at 42.  In addition to the many repeat attendees, some newcomers joined us. 

In the photo below we see (left to right) Valerie and Fred Smith, Eddie Scarcia, Donnie Borgwardt, Michael Moore, Larry Gaffigan, Hannah Gaffigan, Sam Whitmore, Bill and Maryjane Goodwin, Phil Corbin, Phil Marcus, Barbara Ransom, Bev Abdalla, Tick Mangum, Anne McFarland, Jim Ziepolt, Doug Jones, Suzanne Lees, Rick Ransom, Nace DeLauter, Mr. Loody, Pat Thomas, Steve Abdalla, Charles Crowson, Tom and Bonnie Hontz, Herman Knauer, Shirley Sokolowski, Phil Cleary, Cary and Nan, Danny Sokolowski, Jannah Hobday, Bud Duley, Malcolm Van Kirk, and Steve and Tammy Yokum.

Also in attendance, but not pictured above, were Bonnie Williams, Vernon Islei and Bud Duley's son and daughter.

It was nice to see the Delaware delegation (above) -- friends who braved the Chesapeake Bay bridge traffic on a weekend to join us.  They are (left to right) Steve and Beverly Abdalla, Bill and Mary Jane Goodwin, and Bonnie and Tom Hontz. 

The long distance award probably goes to Phil Marcus, who made the trip from North Carolina for the second year in a row.

Official Beltsville Shell shirts were on display!

Phil Corbin and Herman Knauer have attended 14 of the 19 reunions

The tradition of bringing vintage cars continues:

Malcolm Van Kirk and his daughter, Jannah Hobday, arrived in their 1964 Corvette

My brother, Pat brought his Toyota MR2

Tick Mangum and Anne McFarland showed off their 1957 Ford Ranchero

Everyone loved Mr. Loody's 1957 Chevy

The friendships are amazing and the food is nearly as dear. Everyone brings a side dish or dessert,  We always have a nice selection of deviled eggs created from a variety of recipes.  This year Suzanne and Herman brined the chicken, and Tom cooked them with his usual grill-master technique. 

As a special treat, Herman surprised everyone with deep-fried french fries which were passed around like hors d'oeuvres.  Yum!

Herman always begins the meal by greeting everyone and giving a brief speech.  This year we had a moment of silence to spiritually support Vernon, who suffered a bit from the heat of the day (later we learned that Vernon was going to be fine -- thank goodness).

Time to enjoy all the good food.

Someone (frequently Malcolm) brings a special Beltsville Shell cake.

Each year, as the reunions begin to wind down, and friends depart to return home, I get a little nostalgic.  This year, in particular, I thought about all the Beltsville Shell alumni who are no longer with us.  Since the book was published we have lost too many: Buddy Boteler, Sonny Boteler, Brenda Drake, Pete La Barbera, Dana Moore, Frank Porto, Sam Powell, Gary Wayne Scaggs, and Tom Swartz.  The emptiness of their passing is only slightly filled by their memories in the book's pages.  In this I find some comfort.

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of our little memoir.  It was a real treat seeing all of you.

Love, Cary and Nan


  1. Thank you for all your hard work in keeping us in the know about our old Beltsville friends. We love going through the pictures and seeing how many we can pick out on our own before looking at the names. Every year we say we must go next year…Hopefully 2024 will be the year! We always have a family camping trip the same week of the reunion but in 2024 we plan on making the reunion our #1 priority ! Peace✌️

    1. Thank you for your kind comments -- we would love to see you at Herman's whenever you can make it! All the best -- Cary

  2. To the person who requested permission to repost this story, and photos, in the next issue of The Beltsville News - - - YES! please use this material as you see fit. Cary Thomas 9/29/2023


Remembrances (and appropriate comments) are always recommended! Thank you, Cary