‘Chasing Grandpa’ documents cross-country trip in 1917 Maxwell

09/10/2017 6:00 AM |

Brothers Doug and Rich Bassemir, who late last year followed tire tracks laid across the country by their grandfather 100 years ago in the same model 1917 Maxwell touring car, now have a book to commemorate the journey.

Rich Bassemir updated every mile of the trip on his website, posting photos, videos and explanations of trials and successes.

He was asked by the rest of Team Maxwell, as they called their group,at the start of the trip if he would write a book, but his answer was no — at first.

“However, as the trip unfolded and the adventure began, we were faced with issues and obstacles that miraculously worked themself out,” Rich said Friday in an email.

Those obstacles included the failure of the alternator in their support truck, driven by friend John Braska of Massapequa, on Thanksgiving Day. With two miles to go to an auto parts store, the truck’s battery also faltered and slowed progress to bout 5 miles per hour.

“It was as if the Chevy was in a desert and on its hands and knees, crawling towards an oasis,” Rich wrote.

But the truck stayed alive until it rolled into the shop’s parking lot and just stopped, with no need to turn the key.

The brothers — Doug is from Aquebogue and Rich from Austin, Texas — nicknamed the trip “Chasing Grandpa,” which is now the title of the book. It documents their journey just as their grandfather, C.W. Tuthill, did, in a diary and through photos, some of which were taken in the same spots where Mr. Tuthill stood 100 years earlier.

The adventure story in print follows Team Maxwell’s trip day by day, and includes Mr. Tuthill’s own diary entries, which note the date, weather conditions and details such as “changed tires 5 times today” on Nov. 24, 1916.

The book, available on Amazon.com, also offers a glimpse into Mr. Tuthill’s life and documents the brothers’ months of trip preparation with shout-outs to those who helped them prepare the Maxwell, as well as research and identify stops in different cities along the route from Newark, N.J., to Los Angeles.

The team followed Mr. Tuthill’s path closely, passing the same views at the same speed of 30 miles per hour until, after 13 days, they arrived in L.A.

“We all grew to have a much deeper appreciation for our grandfather’s accomplishment,” Rich said. “I wanted to share this experience with others and decided that writing a book would be a way to take the reader along on the cross-country adventure.”

“We all grew to have a much deeper appreciation for our grandfather’s accomplishment,” Rich said. “I wanted to share this experience with others and decided that writing a book would be a way to take the reader along on the cross-country adventure.

“Writing the book gave me an opportunity to share more about my grandfather and all the people that contributed to making the trip possible,” he continued. “It was really a Team Maxwell effort.”

The books ends with a shout-out to Mr. Tuthill, thanking him for watching over them on a trip of a lifetime.

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File photo: Rich Bassemir (left) and his brother Doug with their 1917 Maxwell touring car in Aquebogue days before they set off for their cross-country trip last November. Below: The brothers’ selfie taken during their trip. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

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