Registry Member Hank Vezina W0388
Way back in November 1960, on my 16th birthday, I was ready to go to a local Chevy dealership and plot down $3,700 for a new 1961 Corvette. From the time I was 10 years old I had been earning a wage working for my father in the family excavating business, first using a shovel, pick or rake, then driving the front-end loader and dump truck. I had saved up all that money with one thing in mind; to buy my dream car, the Corvette. But my father had other plans. He forced me to invest in the business by taking my money and using it as a down payment on a Case 310 bulldozer. So my dream of buying a new Corvette was dashed, but I promised myself that someday I would make that dream come true.
In the summer of 1969 I was able to buy second hand '68 Blue Corvette Roadster. I was really enjoying that car and even kept it after I got married the following Spring. But a couple of months later when my wife told me she was pregnant, I knew I couldn't keep the car. So I sold it to an older gentleman who I believed would take good care of it. There were tears in my eyes as I watched the new owner drive it away.
Twenty-five years past and I was ready and able to buy another Vette. I really couldn't afford a new one so I bought an '88 Roadster below market price. It needed a bit of work and it took me two years to get it looking and running right. The only problem I couldn't fix was my wife's complaints about it not having enough storage room for all her luggage. She's one of these people that always overpacks for trips. So we never went far and I was considering trading it in for a '90 or '91 Coupe to get the extra space.
Then it happened. I won a new '98 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle and I knew this was my chance to fulfill a very old dream. I sold the Harley and the Vette and ordered a new '98 Nassau Blue Convertible with Light Oak interior and top, and of course with a 6 speed transmission. I even opted to take delivery at the National Corvette Museum. I also contacted a Manufacturing Engineering Manager I knew at the Corvette plant and arranged a personal tour. I had met him last year at a car show in Boston and had kept in contact with him over the winter.
I was scheduled to pick up the car on April 21st, but the week before a series of tornadoes hit the Bowling Green area and I decided to call to see if anything happened to my car. The museum folks weren't sure where the car was, even though I told them I had found out it was actually built the week of March 30th. So I contacted my friend at the plant and according to their computer the car was taken over to the dealership for prepping on
Thursday the 16th. He also informed me that he saw on the news that the dealerships in Bowling Green were devastated by the tornadoes, but he said he would call around to see if anything happened to the car. For the next hour I sat in my office biting my fingernails waiting for his return call. When he did call he said he had bad news and good news. The bad news was all the cars at the dealerships were destroyed by the storms, including many new Corvettes. The good news was my car never left the plant. For some reason, even though it was suppose to be loaded on a truck to go to the dealership, it was still at the plant's big lot, safe and sound.
I arrived at the Corvette Plant about noon on the 21st and my friend gave me a fantastic 3 hour tour, covering everything from start to finish. I even met the famous Ernest Foote who let me start not one but two new cars at the end of the assemble line. I also saw a new '99 Coupe in the test area. I then headed over to the museum around 3pm and was given a personalized tour ending with seeing my car on display in the museum with a big sign congratulating. The museum folks treat you like royalty and I even met with Wendell Strode, whose Bed & Breakfast establishment I would be staying at that night.
The drive from Kentucky to New Hampshire was great. I covered over 1,300 miles in 3 days, stopping at the Mammoth Caves, Boonesboro, Clarksburg, and Gettysburg, and I never got a back ache or sore butt from all the driving. On Rt.79 in West Virginia I turned the car loose and was cruising up and down the mountains at 95mph with the car not even twitching in the slightest. It was during this stretch of high speed that a State Trooper pulled up behind me and I slowed to 70. He never put his blue lights on. He just pulled along side me, gave me a big smile and a thumbs up, and drove away.
So, my teenage dream of buying a new Corvette is finally fulfilled and I hope to have many years of enjoyment with this beautiful car. Even my wife likes it, especially when she saw the trunk to store all her baggage for the long trips.
The pictures you see here were taken by fellow registry member, Tom Mattera, who was also staying at the B&B with his wife Alexis. He had one of those new digital disk cameras, took a bunch of shots, and gave me the disk as a gift. My special thanks to him and hope to meet him again soon.
Member # W0114
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