Throughout the summer, residents of Gundersen Harmony Care Center have enjoyed listening to various speakers share their stories or experiences. The ability to step into other peoples’ lives and hear their stories is similar to being lost in a good book!
On a Monday afternoon, many gathered outdoors to await the arrival of the vintage cars driven by collectors, Bob Miller and Les and Kevin Prinsen. What a delight to watch the cars round the corner.
Those beautiful cars from the past, restored to their original glory, took everyone back to a Friday night in Harmony, when the week was over, and everyone buzzed to town to shop and catch up on the news. During those “good old days,” people were neighborly, taking time to visit, and presented a promising future for the families who lived in a small community and town. With many mothers at home raising families and folks staying close to their family roots, the small town friendliness was at its peak.
Bob Miller, the proud owner of a 1954 Chevrolet and 1956 Oldsmobile, stated he has always had a love for old cars.
“The cars from this era are a symbol of the early ‘50s, which were called, ‘the best of times.’ The Chevy, coming from Peoria, Ill., cost less than $2,000 and the ‘56 Olds, cost $3,000, and never seeing snow, helped to keep the cars in mint condition,” he said.
“The robin’s egg blue Olds and turquoise blue Chevy, with a white interior, are colors you don’t see on the road anymore,” Bob continued.
Throughout the years Bob has added accessories unique to each of the cars and the time: fender flairs, bloomers, markers, visors and other chrome pieces to restore the cars to their original condition.
Bob added he and his wife, Carol, have enjoyed driving with their grandchildren in the Fourth of July parades, and that collecting and restoring cars has been an enjoyable hobby.
Bob shared that in 1954, gasoline cost 25 cents a gallon and in order to drive his car he now needs to add one ounce of lead additive to every 10 gallons of gasoline.
Bob also pointed out the “pioneer license plate” on the cars. “You only need to purchase the plates once as they’re good for a lifetime,” he explained.
Les Prinsen, driving up in his 1965 Chevrolet Impala, shared that he bought this car from his sister, who had originally purchased it new for $4,000, while in college in Iowa.
“Placing new air vent windows in the car and having new carpet installed are just some of the things you do to restore a car to its original condition,” Les said.
He added that he has put new upholstery on the seats, restored the radial tires and repainted the car, which can become a bit of an expensive hobby.
Les informed the residents that the air vent side windows were the air conditioning of its time and that he also had to install seat belts. Les concluded he has enjoyed this wonderful hobby.
The residents appreciated the afternoon, seeing the cars, and reminiscing about their own first cars.