Citroen Club of Minnesota

An Early History of the Citroën Club in Minnesota

--compiled by Michael Barone (last 'improved' 12/06)

Citroëns and Citroënistes appeared in Minnesota shortly after the introduction of the DS in 1955, though that story will be told elsewhere. According to available documents, the 'official' birth of our present-day Minnesota Citroën Club dates from August 21, 1992, when Articles of Incorporation (including a payment of $80) were sent to Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe to register the name of our organization as "Club Citroën - L'Etoile du Nord."

However, an undated 'membership recruitment card' from the "Club Citroën of MN, L'Etoile du Nord" ($20 annual membership) states: "The Citroën Car Club of Minnesota is a non-profit organization founded in 1990." Note that already we were using three different club names!

Clearly some sort of club-generating energy was at work in 1990, as our records include a document which identifies those in attendance at a 'Citroën Meet' on 'Saturday the 22nd'. No year was specified, but a check of old calendars shows that this must have been September 1990, the only year in the relevant period in which the 22nd falls upon a Saturday

That 1990 list includes thirty-two names, many still on our roster: George Stavrou (wagon), Doran Gerstein (DS), Brad Parker (DS), Jack Shotton (DS), John Lawrence (SM), Jim and Kim Larsen (2CV), Pierre Callies, Christian Caille (TAV), Patrick Bulger (SM), Gilles Gein, John Hawkins (SM), Jack Zimmerschied (DS), Karim Kezi, Bruce Gelman (B2), Tom Kennedy (TAV), Craig Loubert (DS), Charles Dalseide (TAV), Bob Roach (wagon), James Baker, Rody Gessner, Ken Custer (TAV), Orie Beucler (2CV), Jeff Shlossberg, Jorgen Haugen (SM), Aone Fosse ('58 DS), Christian Akale, Isaac Israel, Thomas Worth, Jon Oulman, Dennis Howard ('72 DS) and David Brinks. Some research ought to be done to find out what has happened to those people who are no longer members, and their cars.

A later note addressed to Messr. Caille, stamped with the date 19-April-1991, gives names and addresses for Charles Dalseide (with Minnesota residences in both Dalton and Minneapolis) and Wm. S. Becker (in Alexandria), lending further credence to the informal establishment of a Citroën Club prior to its official 1992 incorporation. The envelope with the Dalseide note also includes other undated notes identifying Jorgen Hoglund (of Medina, MN) as owner of an SM, Jon Oulman (of Minneapolis) as owner of a DS wagon, and Bruce Gelman of Plymouth (owner of a Peugeot 404).

Finally, in June 1992, Christian Caille sent out a note to 'Citroën Friends', inviting them to a casual gathering on Bastille Day (in this case, celebrated a bit early, on Sunday, July 12, 1992) at his restaurant, Quail on the Hill in Saint Paul. It must have been at that gathering that a decision was made to formalize the growing enthusiasm for a Citroën Car Club, as the official incorporation process ensued shortly thereafter

The Articles of Incorporation (mentioned above) list as the first 'directors of the corporation' George Stavrou (Minneapolis), Christian Caille (Saint Paul) and Doran Gerstein (Minneapolis). These Articles of Incorporation, signed by Stavrou, were notarized on 8/20/92 by Geri-Anne Zubich of Hennepin County and filed with the State of Minnesota on August 21, 1992. The 'Certificate of Incorporation' (#3770) indicates that our Corporate Charter is #1H-939 (chapter formed under #317A), and that, according to the State of MN, our name is "Club Citroën - L'Etoile du Nord".

[We might want to consider the matter of our name(s), and in future business either revert to that name by which we are incorporated, or at least determine why we have so many names, if it matters at all.]

Following incorporation, the club's first 'official' event may have taken place on September 27, 1992. A printed notice of that event in our file features the logo of the "Citroën Car Club of Minnesota", with club address at 371 Selby, the business address for Messr. Caille's Quail on the Hill restaurant. That notice (typically?) does not include any identification of the actual year. Was it, indeed, 1992? Also, the logo used on that and other early communications does not spell out the name "Minnesota" (as in Citroën Car Club of…), but rather replaces the state name with a drawing of the state in profile.

Of that period, Jack Shotton reminisces: "I believe that there was an election, that George was President, Chris was Vice President, and a lawyer I never met was Treasurer. This lawyer owned a CX that George coveted greatly. George wanted me to lend him money so that he could buy the thing, but I demurred (as if I had had the money to lend). Somewhere along the line Kim Larsen became the treasurer, and further along the line Chris became president, probably when George returned to Cyprus."

We do have copies of early Club newsletters, beginning with notice from president George Stavrou of a 'Holiday Citroënation', a "first annual holiday get-together" on December 20, 1992 at the Shotton residence. Hors d'oeuvres, snacks, main dish and beverages were provided, though members were invited to bring a bottle of wine.

This was followed by a planning meeting and dinner (at Parrish's Supper Club in West Saint Paul) on April 6, 1993. Further activity in 1993 included a May 4 visit to Yesterday's Auto, an announced 'clinic' by Dave Hume (noted Citroën mechanic from the east coast…did this take place?), and a Bastille Day celebration at Quail on the Hill on Sunday afternoon, July 18, 1993. In early October, club president George Stavrou returned to his native Cyprus and further club activity was conducted by VP Christian Caille

A general meeting and election of officers was scheduled for October 30, 1993 (also at Quail on the Hill), but perhaps this meeting was delayed until November 13, as notice for a planning meeting on that date was mailed out on 11/9/93 Annual dues remained at $20, and apparently at that time Messr. Caille was elected president, since the next club gathering, the 'second annual holiday party' on December 12, was "hosted by our president, Chef Christian Caille, at the famous Quail on the Hill Restaurant". Chef Caille created the main course ($10), though club members were encouraged to bring desserts, appetizers and salads.

The January 1994 newsletter (for the Citroën Club of MN -L'Etoile du Nord) includes much information. Club officers were Christian Caille (president), Jack Shotton (vice president) and Kim Larsen (secretary-treasurer). Craig Loubert was working on a ground-up restoration of a DS (now owned by Dean Anderson). Doran Gerstein was involved in the restoration and customization of a DS21 Wagon and a 2CV 'customized show car'. Art and Elizabeth Pluim had purchased their '69 DS21 dream car, and Neil Schoenheider was doing major body and chassis repair on a great-running DS Wagon (acquired from George, now owned by Eric Fantin).

Other 1994 events included a 'spring tune-up clinic and meeting' held at Yesterday's Auto on April 10, a spring outing at The Outing Lodge near Stillwater on May 15 (a caravan and pot-luck picnic, with drinks and refreshments provided by the club), and the club staffed a booth at the Auto Restoration Collectors Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center (date not given). Cars owned by Jim and Kim Larsen and John Oulman were displayed to much positive comment. Jim Larsen, Pierre Callies, Doran Gerstein, Dean Anderson and Pat Bulger manned the booth over three days.

The 1994 Bastille Day gathering of the club took place on July 10 at Quail on the Hill. Eleven Citroëns were present, plus one 1957 Simca. Our first club-managed rally was run on August 28 (ah, the ineptitude of novice rallyists, though fun was had!), ending at the Anderson's place in Hudson, WI.

A combined annual meeting and breakfast on September 10 (9:30AM) was followed by a group drive to the "Wheels and Wings" exhibition in Osceola. At that meeting, it was recommended that 'member needs' be made known (tech work, parts), also that a calendar of the year's events be posted to allow club members to plan ahead. History would eventually prove that a thoroughly-planned schedule and pre-posted calendars have little direct impact on club event turn-out, though such lists do make nice reading.

Accordingly, a 'Tour de Pastry' was announced for October 15, to be organized by Neil Schoenheider (see also August 10, 1996). A 'Citroën Part-Out Party' at John Hawkins' barn north of Anoka attracted ten members who salvaged a number of useful components from a pair of derelict DS21s and an Ami (which, after passing through several owners, ended up in the hands of Neil Schoenheider, who completed its reconditioning in the winter of 2006). It remains fact that it's one thing to take a Citroën apart, something else again to put one back together!

A third-annual holiday party was announced for December 10, 1994 at the Shotton's, $12 to cover all food and beverages in a bountiful buffet.

To be continued . . . By all means, anyone with another 'version of the truth' is encouraged to submit additions and/or corrections to the Club Scribe, so that our history, such as it is, can be as factual (and interesting) as possible.