“Ooh look! Ooh lookie there!” exclaimed Rose Haven Nursing Center resident Susan Steen as the first of more than 20 classic cars pulled into the backyard of the facility Thursday afternoon.
In they rolled, cars from the 1920s, the 1960s and every decade in between. There were Fords and Chevies, coupes and pickups, and convertibles with chrome so shiny they could have just come off the lot.
When Dave and Christie Stearns of Oakland drove in their 1931 Ford Model AA pickup, several residents called out “The Waltons!” because it reminded them of a truck on the 1970s show depicting a family living during the Great Depression.
The cars, along with a hot dog and root beer lunch, were part of the Graffiti Weekend Retirement & Rest Home Tour. Throughout the afternoon, the car owners toured several local rest homes, offering many local seniors their only chance to participate in the week’s classic car events.
For Steen and fellow Rose Haven resident Karen Wolf, all the cars brought back memories.
“We had a bright red car just like that one when I was a kid,” Wolf said as a 1928 Ford Coupe drove in. A white car and another, a convertible, also looked familiar.
Steen remembered that she, her two brothers and her sister loved riding in the back of her dad’s truck when she was growing up in the 1960s.
“That old Chevy truck that my dad had, it was cherry red colored and he always kept that thing shiny and in top shape,” she said.
“Them were the memories. It was just the best thing. Dad would say, ‘You want to go for a ride?’ Man, you couldn’t see by the herd of kids jumping in the back,” she added.
Steen had trouble picking out her favorite car. She loved them all.
“I like the Waltons one and I like the yellow pickup, but I like the orange coupe with the black fenders. I like the Chevy cars also, the old Chevy cars. That old Ford Falcon is a nice one too,” she said.
Resident Don Caswell favored the pickups. He enjoys rebuilding trucks as a hobby. He built one from the ground up, he said, but hasn’t been able to drive it anywhere since he had a stroke.
“I always drove Chevies, no Fords,” he said. “They drive nice.”
Resident Rick Luckett said the car show was a nice surprise.
“I didn’t even know this was happening until lunchtime, but man this is fantastic,” he said.
That green pickup that reminded some residents of The Waltons was a coal hauler from New York and still has its hand-cranked dump bed, owner Christie Stearns said. She said she’s watched the rest homes tour before, but this was her first time showing in it.
“My dad lives at Linus Oakes. We usually go and watch it, but he wanted us to do it today,” she said.
Farwick West brought his 1956 gray Ford pickup and said it was his first time at the rest homes tour.
“Seeing the smile on these people’s faces is worth a million bucks to me,” he said.
Jean “Frenchie” Beaudoin took the Rose Haven People’s Choice Award with his root-beer-colored 1934 convertible Dodge Coupe. He said he’s been attending the rest home tour for several years.
“We’re doing this so they can see the cars. These old people can relate to these cars,” he said.
Rose Haven Activity Director Brenda Miller flipped hot dogs on the grill and said the cars have come during Graffiti Weekend for at least the past 17 years — as long as she’s been working there. The residents look forward to it every year, she said, because it’s not easy for them to get out to see the other Graffiti events.
“To have people come in from the community and do this for them, it’s pretty special for them. It makes them feel good about themselves,” Miller said.