Last February, Jeff and Bruce Schroeder had a family reunion near Tomah, Wis., for their 10 siblings and their families. But not just an ordinary reunion. This one had an Arctic Cat theme, and it included similar machines and clothing that they’d had and used as kids growing up in a snowmobiling family.
One the day of the reunion, the family reprised the classic Johansson Family Reunion advertisement/postcard that Arctic Cat created for the 1987 model season.
If you ask me, I’d say they nailed it perfectly!
Here’s Jeff Schroeder’s version of the story:
In 1970 our dad purchased a brand new 1971 399 Kohler Panther. He, my mom an all 12 of us kids literally rode the track off it!
The next year our oldest brother Bob purchased a new 1972 399 Panther with a backrest on it. Plus my uncle Gene had a 1971 big mouth Panther with a 440 Sachs, so there were a lot of weekends when lots of people gathered to go riding where we lived in Wisconsin. It was nothing for 10-15 sleds to roll out of the yard and then return later in the night back to our house for chili and card playing.
A few years later my dad purchased a new 1976 Panther 4000, which us kids rode more than our parents. The folks had been getting a little older and there were some winters with poor snow.
Fast-forward 30 years: My folks ended up moving to town and sold the home place to my youngest sister and her husband. There wan an auction and all the Arctic Cat clothing, suits, helmets and sleds were gone, unfortunately.
I say unfortunately because a year later my brother Bruce and I caught the vintage snowmobile bug. All the great stuff my parents had was gone and we had to start over from scratch. Trust me, it would have been cool to have all of my parents stuff, but we were too late.
Bruce and I started out buying sleds that were the same models that my parents had back in the day, plus all of the same clothing that we remembered having. Our collection took off from there. Today we have 20 Arctic Cat sleds, 2 mini bikes, a Kitty Cat, grass cat, numerous totes full of clothing, dealer items and memorabilia.
For the last couple of years we tried getting the whole family together for a vintage ride and picture, but the weather never seemed to cooperate. It finally worked out this year. Of course with a big family comes a lot of scheduling conflicts, so only one third of our family was able to make it, otherwise we would have had 70-75 people there.
The event took place at Bruce’s place on Feb. 4. In the loads of things we have purchased over the years was the Johannson family postcard that was an Arctic Cat marketing piece from the late 1980s. We loved it and had the idea of replicating it.
Before our day started we staged some pictures, kind of in the Johannson post card spirit. Afterwards we had a little lunch and then the pandemonium broke out! Sleds were going everywhere and cutter rides were given to young and old and everyone had a great time. Even my oldest sister who is battling cancer got in on the action, with Bruce giving her a ride on a ‘71 Panther like my dad had.
Sad to say both our parents have passed away and we not able to be there physically, but I believe without a doubt they were truly there in spirit.
We are planning to make this a yearly get together and hope at one point that we can have the whole gang together for a true Schroeder family reunion.
Thanks for reading!