(Yahoo News) Helen Wall of Massachusetts was in her 20s when her husband Wally was shipped off to world War 2 as a fighter pilot—and what she was left with was a brand-new 1941 Ford Super Deluxe convertible, which she had picked out as a stylish parting gift. She drove her $1,100 baby-blue car for nearly a decade before having to sell it for something more practical.
But on Monday, just a couple of months shy of her 100th birthday, Wall received a nostalgic present: one last, long-awaited ride in the car, with the autumn wind in her now snow-white hair.
“It was wonderful,” Wall, 99, tells Yahoo Shine from her West Bridgewater nursing home. “It was only a short ride, but it was wonderful.”
Wall recalls that she and her husband, who died 21 years ago, sold the car in the 1950s for a couple thousand dollars in order to buy a Volkswagen bus, which they needed for lugging around the carnations and camellia trees they sold for a greenhouse business. The buyer was a neighbor, Ed Smith, who eventually moved a few towns away.
Smith, now a vintage-auto collector, still owns the car and on Monday afternoon he drove it to the entrance of the Life Care Center to pick Wall up at the request of Carol Howe, Wall’s longtime neighbor and “adopted daughter.”
“She’s going to be 100 in just a few weeks, so I decided to do this for her now, while the weather is still good. It was her first ride in it since she owned it," Howe tells Shine. She adds that Wall is in a nursing home only because she is unable to walk. “Her mind is perfect. She’s very smart,” she says. “She knits, and she’s a big Red Sox and Patriots fan.”
Wall says her favorite memory about driving the Ford is “having the top down” and “the color,” and she says that getting her driver’s license just before her husband purchased the car was a big victory.
“My husband tried to teach me how to drive and I got mad at him [during that], so I just went and got my own lessons, and I passed my test,” she recalls with a laugh.“I went home and he said, ‘You didn’t get [the license], right?’ and I said, ‘Yes I did.’”
Nursing home director Alan Richman tells Yahoo Shine that being reunited with the car was a huge gift for Wall. “It was a really big deal, just to be able to touch something that was a part of her past. And of course all of the attention, anybody would love that,” he says. “Some guy drove up out of nowhere to see her and see the car, and to give her the copy of a local story about her that he had cut out of the paper." And then, during the actual ride, "She was so excited, she was doing the queen’s wave.”