Gerald Barnett, a Battalion Maintenance Officer at Fort Knox, honored his mother recently by making one of her dreams come true. Barnett brought an old friend back to his mother- who has experienced poor health recently- and the joy it has given her is priceless.
Gerald’s mom, Nancy M. Barnett, had a pace maker/heart defibrillator installed due to congestive heart failure. It was after surgery, while talking to her in the recovery room, that his mother gave her request.
“Mom told me she wanted to drive that old car again before she died,” said Gerald. The old car she was referring to is a 1957 Chevy 210, which she and her late husband had purchased in the 1980’s. It’s been sitting in the yard for years, said Mrs. Barnett. It hasn’t worked, but she couldn’t bare selling it.
“I told her we will see what we can do,” Gerald said, immediately beginning the search for someone to do a complete off the frame restoration.
Growing up mostly in Auburn, the Barnett family vehicles consisted of a 57 Chevy Belair and a 52 Chevy pick-up truck. Both were favorite vehicles of Gerald’s father, who passed away Aug. 12, 2006. Ironically, the day Gerald began the restoration project, it was the fifth anniversary of his father’s death.
“During my father’s final days, he still had hope of getting his beloved ‘57 Chevy back on the road,” Gerald said. “The passion to restore the old classic was so important to him he often talked about how well the car ran and performed, even while under morphine medication for his cancer condition.”
Gerald’s father loved his ‘57 Chevy so much that his brother Marshall had a book, “Chevrolet Best years 1957 Classic Chevrolet” dedicated to his memory at the North Cowley High School library in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Now everyone who reads this book about the ‘57 Chevy will see my father’s name, George Edward Barnett, inscribed on the book,” said a proud Gerald.
After two years and nine months, the car was done. James Britt, owner of Camaro Creations in Smith Grove, Ky. worked on part of the restoration. Gerald picked up the car and brought it to Radcliff, Ky. to complete the job.
“A sincere thanks goes out to Al Bryant of Al’s Garage, Willie of Willie’s Upholstery and Willie & Mel’s Wheels and Tires, all in Radcliff, Ky., Wayne Tires and Master Sergeant (MSG) Ricardo Castillo in Elizabethtown for their hard work in making my mother’s dream of driving her 57 once again before she left this earth,” said Gerald.
How did it feel to drive her dream? Well for Mrs. Barnett, who recently turned 70 this year, it was like riding alongside her husband once again. Memories flooded her, and for but a moment she was transported back to a time when she and her family were young. When sickness wasn’t what plagued her as it does now. A time her son Gerald gave back to her if only for a brief moment.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.