Motoramic

Man restoring '59 Chevy finds 50-year-old love letter — and delivers it

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Dean Sparks's 1959 Chevy Bel Air

Last year's auction of 500-odd cars from Lambrecht Chevrolet in Nebraska — including some 50 ancient ones with barely any miles — spread the collection into a diaspora of rust across the world. One lucky buyer took his 1959 Chevy Bel Air home to Indiana and promptly began tearing it down for a restoration — only to find a mystery inside: a love letter, more than half a century old, that he decided should be reunited with its owner.

As Dean Sparks of Corydon, Ind., tells it, the partially decomposed letter somehow survived the decades the '59 Bel Air sat in a Nebraska field with its floorboard rusting away and mice nibbling the edges. Dated Feb. 7, 1965 — Sparks' birthday — the letter was from a woman who was missing the man she was dating; the last line, visible around the mouse holes, was "let's get married."

Sparks was able to make out the name of the couple: Ronnie Waterbury and Beverly Barber, both of Nebraska. And the search soon uncovered the full story: Waterbury had been the mechanic at Lambrecht Chevrolet, and the Bel Air had been his personal car. He and Barber eloped in the Bel Air, and had two children — one of whom Sparks was able to deliver the letter to, years after their passing. Like good old cars, some things are built to last the decades.

 

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