Antique car show in Brentwood brings back the sweet memories of youth
BRENTWOOD — Libby Bane had one wish.
"If I could just get into a rumble seat I'd be all set," said the vivacious 93-year-old resident of the Rockingham County Nursing Home.
More than 40 old cars and trucks from her generation rolled into the parking lot of the nursing home Saturday afternoon, but Bane had her eyes on that 1929 Ford with the rumble seat.
"The last time I was in one I was 17," she recalled with a grin.
With help from nursing home staff, Bane was able to climb into the seat. It wasn't easy, but she did it.
She smiled. She laughed. She remembered.
"A lot of good memories," Bane said. "Oh, I'd like to be 17 again!"
The first-ever classic car show took nursing home residents on a ride down memory lane.
It's a ride they won't soon forget and one car owners hope they'll be talking about for weeks to come.
"Oh my God, it's a Chevy! It's gorgeous!" 79-year-old resident Betty Burden said with excitement as she checked out Debbie Brewitt's '55 Chevy 3100 pickup truck.
The car show brought back memories of the days Burden spent behind the wheel of her Dodge Dart more than 50 years ago.
"I loved my Dodge Dart. My son, James, taught me how to take care of a car and I did," she said.
Burden was thrilled to see so many older models.
"I'm almost in tears seeing some of them. I had a boyfriend 100 years ago that had one," she said.
The idea for the car show started with Brewitt, a Stratham resident who recalled the day when she brought her old Chevy pickup truck to a garage in Newmarket for some work. She saw a man in his 90s walking across his driveway with a cane.
"You could tell he wasn't happy. He wasn't having a good day," she said.
But then he saw her truck going by.
"When he saw my truck he got a huge grin on his face. Seeing the truck transported him to a different place in time," she said.
Brewitt slowed down so the man could get a good look, and she smiled and waved.
She knew the sight of that truck made the man's day, and it wasn't the first time her truck has brought smiles to the faces of the older generation.
When she arrived home later, Brewitt talked to her husband, Mark, and pitched the idea of holding a car show at a nursing home.
"They see the car they used to own and the one their parents had. It takes them back to some very fond memories," she said.
Brewitt's husband thought it was a great idea, and so did Bob Mitchell, a Stratham resident and "prime minister" of the British Cars of New Hampshire who agreed to help pull it off.
In no time at all, local classic car aficionados came together and agreed to bring their well-maintained vehicles from the '50s, '40s, '30s, and '20s to the nursing home.
The goal was to offer cars that most of the residents would have remembered from their teens and 20s, Mitchell said.
"For most of the residents the good times are in the rearview mirror. What we're trying to do is bring back those memories that are so vivid," he said.
The newest vehicle was one from the '70s. That's the one nursing home resident Brendan McNamara of Hampton wanted to see. He's 53 and wasn't around when most of the other cars were on the road.
"I've seen pictures of old cars, but not like this," he said.
The car show also featured the band Nashville Rash. The band made an appearance thanks to nursing home resident Andrea Farnsworth. The 70-year-old former Derry resident knew the band and encouraged them to come.
"They are good," she said.
Farnsworth made sure she had a disposable camera to take pictures at the car show. She liked the old red Ford pickup truck.
"Isn't that nice," she said.
Resident Delma Judkins, who said she's in her 80s, enjoyed the car show, too.
"I used to have a friend who worked at a garage," the former Exeter woman said.
Retired Plaistow chiropractor Bob Jean, 82, never knew much about cars, but he still had a good time riding around in his motorized chair.
It's not quite like the Packard he drove when he was 17, but he doesn't mind.
"This is my caddy now. It's a $30,000 chair and it does everything," he said.