GROOM, Texas (KFDA) - Opportunities to sit and visit with veterans of World War II are becoming rare, with fewer and fewer from that time remaining alive each year. But this week, I met Walt West and enjoyed visiting with a special man as he shared some thoughts about the war.
“[They] tried to take an old boy out of the plains that had never seen a creek, he couldn’t jump and then tried to drown him the Pacific Ocean that’s what they did,” recounted Walt West, a World War II veteran.
As fascinating as it is to hear about World War II, I really made the trip to talk about Walt’s birthday.
Walt celebrated his 99th birthday last weekend and along with cake and time with family, he received something he hadn’t touched in 47 years--his 1955 Ford.
“Well, dad bought the car new in Groom, Texas in 1955,” said Harry West, Walt’s son. “Dad used this car up until the early 60′s. That was our car we went to vacations, we went everywhere in it.”
Knowing their fathers love for his old car, the family decided to restore the vehicle that had been stored scene 1972 for Walt to drive one more time on his 99th birthday.
“A lot of people requested that maybe the car would be fixed up and so I got with my brother and said, ‘Let’s do it for his birthday. That would be awesome, he is 99 years old hasn’t been driven in 47 years and it would just be awesome,'” explained Linda West, Walt’s daughter.
“My brother started working on the engine of it and then I came over this week and we got it cleaned up and it has just been a labor of love,” said Linda.
“I did it just so dad could drive it one more time,” said Harry. “You know we all kind of grew up with it and we all kind of learned to drive in it and all that kind of stuff so it’s just an old ’55 Ford, but it’s pretty special to us and it is really special to him it was worth every bit of the effort to get the car back into this kind.”
I asked Walt how it felt to get back behind the wheel of the car to which he replied, “Oh gosh there ain’t no way to explain it, you know, I never thought that I would be able to do it. About the only thing I could do was go sit in it while it was sitting in storage or something. It drives good and it seemed like old times again.”
Since he got his car back when he turned 99, I asked Walt what he wanted to do when he turns 100.
“Well maybe I can get somebody to fix my ’46 Cadillac. I’ve got a ’46 Cadillac that needs restoring, maybe I can do that,” said Walt.
Restoring old cars and making old guys happy--that is just good news.