The six Germans who traveled to Benton City in March to restore a vintage bus are back in their home country.
And their bus, nicknamed “Big Nose,” is on its way to join them.
“A few hours ago, I got an email from a dockworker that our bus is now on the ship to Bremerhaven, Germany,” wrote Britta “Bonnie” Preusse in a recent email to the Herald.
Today’s stories delivered to your inbox Click here for the Tri-City Herald’s daily morning and afternoon email newsletters
She and her friends hope it will make it to Germany in time for their “Jump & Jive BBQ” on June 4.
Preusse and the five other Germans are part of the GI Jive Swing Company, which plays music of the 1940s and 50s.
They wanted a vintage bus to use as a touring vehicle, and found the blue and white 1952 GMC online.
It was for sale by Dan Stafford, owner of Dan’s Garage in Kennewick.
The bus was exactly what they were looking for — the right era, with room for about 20.
But it was far from roadworthy. So the Germans made plans to travel to the Tri-Cities to get the bus running. Then to drive it to Texas, where it could be shipped to Germany.
A few hours ago, I got an email from a dockworker that our bus is now on the ship to Bremerhaven, Germany.
Britta “Bonnie” Preusse
Online searching led the crew to local vintage vehicle enthusiast John Engelke of Benton City.
He invited the Germans to work on Big Nose in his large garage, even lending a hand himself.
The crew also made other friends in Benton City, frequenting the local auto parts store and the Palm Bar & Grill — they loved the bacon burgers there — decked out in 1940s-style coveralls. They were the talk of the town.
“They’re very entertaining, between their uniforms and accents. They’re all happy and cheerful. They’ve been a real delight to have around,” said June Detloff, co-owner of Detloff A&M Auto Parts, while they were in town.
The Germans said they were amazed at the warm welcome they received.
“You have an idea and you book your flight and you come all the way from Germany to America. And then, with just a few emails, there is someone who says, ‘OK, I don’t know them ... but I invite them to my home and my family and help them,’ ” Preusse told the Herald during a break from working on the bus. “For all, it’s an adventure. It’s great.”
Preusse chronicled the entire adventure on her blog, www.createandtravel.com.