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Cruisin’ the Heartland allows family to showcase their collection

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Vintage vehicles on exhibit Saturday in Elizabethtown

By Gina Clear

David Fields remembers a time when the streets of Elizabethtown were filled with cars driving up and down Dixie Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights.

Teens would pile in to each other’s cars and cruise the town, make stops at various diners, such as the Lincoln Car Hop, and at times, even switch vehicles to hang out with other friends.

“All you would do Friday and Saturday nights in the late ’50s and ’60s is cruise,” Fields said. “You would clean up the cars just for Friday and Saturday nights.”

Cruising the strip helped create a sense of community.

“You just knew everyone up and down the strip,” he said.

Now with the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Cruisin’ the Heartland this weekend in downtown Elizabethtown, Fields said the allure of yesteryear cruising is back.

“It brings people together in the community,” he said. “It’s a hometown type of thing.”

Fields and his wife, Edith, and sons Casey and Russ, will bring five vehicles the boys have restored to the event from Cecilia. They will bring a ’55 Chevy, a ’57 Chevy Bel Air, a ’67 Oldsmobile 442, a ’68 Pontiac Firebird convertible and an ’04 Chevy SSR convertible.

For the Fields family, restoring vehicles is a hobby that came with being part of the family. David grew up watching his dad repair cars and Casey and Russ have done the same with their father.

“I’ve always been around it,” Casey said. “Me and my brother didn’t really have a choice. We were always around it.”

Over a span of several decades, David acquired his collection and, with his sons, restored them. Some needed more work than others, but for the family, patience has paid off and the cars have become as much a part of the family as the people are. Their stories are intertwined.

The ’67 Oldsmobile 442 has taken both sons and four grandchildren home from the hospital and David took Edith out on their first date in it. The car also won the Best Oldsmobile/Buick Class car at the Nashville Auto Fest.

The ’57 Chevy Bel Air has been in the Cecilia Day Parade since 1994 and has driven the family on vacations to Gatlinburg and points further south to participate in Cruise the Coast and north to Indiana for the James Dean Run.

“It’s got a lot of miles on it,” David said. “There’s not a nut, bolt, nothin’ I haven’t touched on that car. I always loved those cars from the first time I saw one.”

The ’55 Chevy, which was a Bel Air and has been converted into a 150, won Best of Show at the Ohio Valley Race Way Old Timers Day this year.

The ’68 Firebird, which was bought for Edith, and ’04 Chevy SSR, which turned out to be Edith’s, has driven granddaughters Jordyn and Peyton Fields in many parades as Miss Teen and Pre-Teen Hardin County in 2010.

“I went to Bowling Green to get a Corvette for a niece and ended up with the Corvette and the SSR,” David said. “My wife drove it home. When I looked in my rearview and saw her smiling, I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to sell it.”

Now the family has a new project for new stories. Casey purchased a ’71 Chevy C-10, which is sitting at a body shop without a front end on it.

“When I was young, we owned a boat and we had a truck like this one that pulled the boat to the lake,” Casey said. “It was the first car I ever drove. Now it’s something that I own that I can make mine.”

Although the family attends several car shows and cruises together, David says Cruisin’ the Heartland has a special appeal and he is looking forward to seeing everyone again.

“I get to see a lot of those guys that rode around back in those days,” he said. “We’ll get to stand around and talk to each other.”

Gina Clear can be reached at (270) 505-1740 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.