Don & Freeda Beachler
It was a cold, dusty, and very blustery Tuesday morning when I arrived in Modesto to interview Don and Freeda Beachler, our MEMBER SPOTLIGHT for this issue. Their warm welcome made it totally worth the journey from Hayward. As I entered their beautiful custom built home of 30 years, I was treated to a cozy fire Don had built in their massive fireplace. Freeda was beautiful in a brightly colored dress of her making. She also surprised me with a beautiful potholder gift that she had hand sewn. Don and Freeda are pillars in their community, and I observed that they love every moment they serve. My visit lasted nearly two hours. Don was so interesting, and I appreciated that Freeda took time out of her day to join us during my interview and ‘tour’. Thanks to you both, Don and Freeda, for your generous hospitality.

After admiring their many family photos, we sat at their table which looked out onto a partial of their 173 acres. Through their large sliding glass doors that led to their immediate patio and beyond, Don pointed out that behind a huge building across their field stood another building where he operated his business for the last 30 years. Also, in the distance, he pointed out Allis Chalmers tractors that they used in their farming business. Don had a knack for business. He dropped out of college to start his Harvesting and Trucking business with a partner. He has done extremely well, and, now his sons are running it. He also got into Farming. They still have an abundance of almond trees on their property which they still harvest today. I asked what he was growing in the field outside his patio area. He said it was alfalfa. 30 years ago he had the foresight that he did not want trees blocking their view of the mountains that they could see on a clear day.

Don was born on July 3, 1927 in Modesto, Ca. His family traveled quite a bit between 1935 and 1938 as he was growing. His Dad was Service Manager for Allis Chalmers Tractors for eleven Western States, and finally decided to settle back in Modesto where the Beachler legacy is deeply rooted. When Don was two years old, his Dad gave him a 1929 toy Chrysler model car that he played with as a child. The tires on this toy model car are original, and the cast made of pewter. For an 80 year old toy model car , it is in great condition. What a keepsake! Don’s office is filled with toy model cars and tractors, a Collector’s dream.

Don loved participating in athletics in his growing years. He played baseball as boy. He showed me his prize bat with which he hit 80 home runs in the eighth grade. Other fond memories included scraping snow off the football field where the Green Bay Packers played the New York Giants in 1937. As a child of ten, that was exciting. He was a track runner in high school. As we chatted, I shared with him that I recently attended an Edison High School football game in Stockton. It was my alma mater, and Alumni were invited because it was the school’s Homecoming, and last home game of the season. After this game, the original stadium and school built in 1941, was going to be torn down, and a State of the Art stadium built in its place. In turn, he shared a prized memory of competing in a high school track meet back in 1945. It was the mile relay race. He vividly explained that when he accepted the baton from his teammate, and began running his 440 yards around the track, he beat favored competitor, Eddie Macon, from Edison. Eddie later became star running back at University of Pacific in Stockton, and then was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1952. I would say Don was a pretty fast runner in his day.

Don and Freeda have been married for sixty years. She was born in Kansas, and Don was working there at the time. Freeda’s mom thought California was too far away to have a boyfriend, but Don, who had already won Freeda’s heart, also won her Mom’s heart, and they were married April 10, 1949 in Kansas. They came back to California, and reared their five children, and one unofficially adopted child. They also have 18 grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren. They are very active in their community, especially Modesto Christian High school. For the last 52 years, Don and Freeda have been involved in Youth camps. That was great to hear. I believe that they have definitely given those Youth a dose of positive influence and hope throughout the years.

With such a fascinating introduction, I asked Don when his interest in cars began. He said Freeda’s Uncle got him interested in cars. Her Uncle had a Mopar collection in those early days. After all, Walter P. Chrysler grew up Ellis, Kansas and had a great influence in the area. In 1957, Don’s Dad bought a 1955 Chrysler Imperial for $2700. It was his daily driver until 1970. That year, Don remembers asking his Dad if he could have the car when his Dad did not want it anymore. His Dad said he could have the car. Sadly and solemnly, Don shared his Dad died the next day of a massive heart attack. Looking at Don’s collection, he is mainly a Mopar man. He has three Imperials: his Dad’s ‘55 4 door Sedan, a 1939 4 door Imperial, and his 1963 Imperial that won first place at Long Beach State Meet in 1989. He said he bought the Imperial from Ron Reed, a member of the Imperial Club about 13 years earlier. It is a beauty, and still well cared. Don and Freeda joined the Imperial Club shortly afterward, and, have been members ever since.

The other collector cars that Don has are: a 1950 Plymouth, 1948 Dodge, 1948 New Yorker, 1953 Desoto, 1926 Model T, 1931 Model A, the first Dodge truck the Dodge Brothers ever made in 1914, a 1936 Desoto Airflow, a 1957 Desoto complete with Hemi, a 1927 Dodge, and a 1937 Plymouth. Wow!! A piece of trivia that Don shared was that the Dodge Brothers made Fords between 1904 and 1914. Henry Ford enlisted the Dodge Brothers because they had their own factory to make his cars. When Henry got his own factory, the Dodge Brothers got innovative, and began the history of Dodge cars. In addition to his collector cars, he has a collection of tractors, and a Diamond T truck (aka the Cadillac of trucks). The Diamond T truck that he has, comprises of two Diamond T trucks consolidated into one handsome truck. Because of his love and passion for his cars, Don brings in a mechanic once a year to make sure the engines will start with no problems. After our interview, I made a comment that our club needs to create a tour to see his collection again, and he said we are WELCOMED!