The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

April 8, 2013

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Cruise Night brings out the car lover in all of us

PITTSBURG, Kan. — At one point in my childhood, I dreamed of owning a classic car. My top two choices: a Ford Mustang and a Chevy Corvette. (I also was going to race in the Daytona 500, but that obviously didn’t pan out.)

My car enthusiasm was fueled by my uncle, Robert Atterbury, a plumber and machinist who made magic in his basement in Duquesne and his shop on Iowa Street. He turned pieces of metal into some of the coolest cars I’ve ever seen.

One was a dune buggy in which my little brother and I both learned to drive — stick shift on eight rolling Missouri acres with the wind in our hair. Another, a 1929 coupe, my uncle raced but sadly sold before my time.

A third he crafted for race car driver and Springfield, Mo., native Larry Phillips, which wound up being featured in a racing magazine.

So on summer afternoons and winter weekends of my youth, I sat at my uncle’s table and assembled model classic car kits and just kept dreaming. And then I grew up.

In 2004, my uncle died at age 61 of an inoperable brain tumor. During his six-month battle with it, the coupe’s new owner, Terry Hall, showed up to take him — and us — on some rides through the streets of Duquesne.

When the engine roared to life, we all smiled.

At the funeral, Hall parked that coupe near the entrance alongside the dune buggy, and other friends showed up in their sweet rides. It was our own personal Cruise Night.

That’s why the story I wrote for Saturday’s Globe touched a nerve: A group of individuals, members of a classic car club and some Southeast Kansas businesses teamed up to restore cancer patient Bill Smith’s 1968 Camaro — one he’d never gotten around to finishing himself.

The group unveiled the newly finished car Saturday night in Pittsburg at the first Rollin’ Nostalgia Car Club Cruise Night of the season. I wouldn’t have missed seeing it for the world.

Walking among some really neat guys and about 100 really neat cars, I marveled at the craftsmanship, the body styles, the bold paint choices. A few of the guys who helped with Smith’s project proudly shared stories of their own cars.

Jack Simon showed off his red ’55 Chevy 210 two-door post. His wife, Mary Lou, surprised him with it as a Christmas present in their 13th year of marriage. That was 34 years ago, and he still cherishes both it and her.

Ira Reikin showed off his black ’47 Chevy Sedan Delivery, complete with flame kit, fuzzy dice and a surfboard in back. He found it about six years ago in Spring Hill, Kan., but didn’t tell his wife he’d bought it until it was too late. They’re still happily married and will celebrate their 41st anniversary in May.

Brad Hill let us sit in his red ’58 Willys Jeep that we’ve been drooling over for some time — we see it every morning on our way to school and Hill’s way to work. He found it in a field in 2005 when he went looking for a pickup for his wife, Tammy.

And Bill and Roseanne Smith, who after receiving their keys were given Rollin’ Nostalgia Car Club jackets, didn’t quit smiling the entire evening. But then, neither did anybody else.

I probably won’t ever own a classic car, and that’s OK. I’ll just keep driving my Honda Pilot, which is practical for two boys and their friends, a dog, groceries, recycling, fishing poles and camping gear. But when Cruise Night rolls around each month, you can bet I’ll show up. It’s a great place to dream.

FOLLOW ANDRA STEFANONI on Facebook at and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • r072314techcenter4.jpg Southeast Kansas schools, businesses get behind new technical center

    When Galena Superintendent Brian Smith looks at the millions of dollars of construction projects going on in his district, not to mention similar projects underway in Joplin, Carthage and elsewhere, he sees the need to train masons.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting_Cast.jpg Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

    A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    July 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope.jpg Pope meets Sudanese woman sentenced to death

    Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant daughter born just weeks ago in prison.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Box Turtle.jpg Getting reacquainted with garden dwellers

    Visitors to my garden this week find me covered in dust and dirt with bits of wood, leaves and who knows what else caught in my hair; stinky, sweaty gloves; grimy sweat pants and rivulets of dirty perspiration running down my face.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • mug_sarah-coyne-112613-c.jpg Sarah Coyne: Older kids still find joy in toys

    When she crawled under her covers, she buried her head in her pillow. Then she looked up at me and whispered, "But what if I can't stop thinking about that spider?"

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414_annie1.JPG Child's play: Kids comprise the cast of 'Annie Jr.'

    The kids are getting a kick out of playing adults. While most of the main characters in "Annie Jr." are orphan children, some, such as Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and President Roosevelt, are squarely past adulthood.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo