Judd's driving passion is antique pedal carsIt was...

J. T.

August 08, 1993|By Stephanie Shapiro

J. T. Judd's driving passion is antique pedal cars

It was the one that got away that ignited J. T. Judd's passion for antique pedal cars. After his grandfather died, Mr. Judd cleaned out his attic and discovered a vintage 1930s Lincoln manufactured by the American National Company.

As an avid collector of antique hood ornaments who runs the brass refinishing business for Amos Judd & Son, his father's Howard Street antiques store, he knew the luxurious old toy was something special.

His feeling was confirmed when he sold the car to a California dealer for $4,000.

But that transaction turned out to be "probably the biggest mistake I ever made," Mr. Judd says. He realized he had lost a valuable heirloom that should have stayed in the family.

So Mr. Judd, 35, began collecting pedal cars, child-size automobiles dating to the turn of the century, that replicated adult-size models. Today's versions of pedal cars are "plastic with electric motors in them," Mr. Judd says with disdain.

In addition to the 50 vintage pedal cars that sit in his Timonium garage, Mr. Judd has weighed in with his own pedal-car designs. His two original models, a boat-tail racer and a roadster built in his basement machine shop, sell for more than $1,000.

The first car Mr. Judd built automatically went to his 2-year-old son, Tyler.

And someday, his entire antique pedal car collection will also belong to Tyler, including, he hopes, that original Lincoln, today worth about $20,000.

VJ Declares Mr. Judd, "I want first shot at it when it's for sale again." It wasn't long after Regina Service moved into a retirement community in Catonsville that the seeds of her new vocation took hold. They grew into the shape of an outlandishly made-up woman named Collette, a non-speaking girlish clown with Mary Janes that were 2 feet long. People took one look at her and laughed -- and that's when Regina Service knew things would be OK.

"I think when you've had a lot of tragedy in your life, you are more apt to counteract it with something to the extreme," she says, explaining her impulse to study clowning in her retirement years.

"I had gone through the ups and downs of raising six kids, and my husband had died," she says. "I had remarried and moved to Charlestown [Retirement Community], but I felt my life was empty. And I wasn't used to being around so many seniors who sometimes looked rather sad. I discovered a need for sunshine, and I wondered how I could provide it. I decided the funniest thing I could do was to clown."

She and four of her daughters studied clowning at Towson State University and have since put on a variety of well-received skits at Charlestown. Often, disguised as Collette the mime, Regina goes alone to the community's care center to cheer up residents.

"Inside I'm not always laughing," she admits. "I try to make others laugh, and by doing that you get out of yourself. You have no worries. We've all had tragedies. Every clown I talk to has the same feeling. This is the way to get over it, trying to make people laugh."

Patrick A. McGuire

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