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Cruise Night gives Veterans Home residents a chance to rock and reminisce



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Don Baldinelli, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars who served in both the U.S. Army and Air Force, posed for a photo with Melissa Libby, a Social Worker Consultant at New Hampshire Veterans Home and owner of his favorite car in last week's Cruise Night, a fully restored 1927 Ford Model T. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 08, 2018
TILTON — Residents of New Hampshire Veterans' Home were rockin' and reelin' to the sounds of the Bel-Airs doo-wop band last week as they looked over rows of antique and classic cars that overflowed their parking lot, tapping their fingers and feet all the while to timeless hits like "Rockin' Robin" and "Blue Suede Shoes."

Joining the veterans were family, friends and members of the general public as they admired the more than 80 vehicles that took part in the event.

Louise Dean, a World War II Navy Nurse, was among the residents of NHVH who made the rounds and looked over nearly a century's worth of Chevy, Ford, Dodge and Mercury trucks and cars lining the parking lot, along with newer Corvettes, Mustangs, Chevelles, Camaros and much more.

"They're all beautiful," Dean exclaimed as she was wheeled around the lot.

Her favorite by far though were all the antique pick-up trucks on display.

"I've never driven one, they looked like way too much for me to handle, but I can't help but think 'Oh, I do like that one,'" she said with a smile as she pointed out a 1969 Ford F-250.

Assisting Dean for the event was her new friend Dan, a resident of Northfield and the Vice President of the Combat Warriors Motorcycle Club. An Army veteran himself, Dan was among the many veteran clubs and Bank of New Hampshire's members of the Military Support Assistance Group who made sure all the residents interested in cruise night could get out and about to enjoy the evening.

Harry Trott was another resident who liked what he saw as he made the rounds last Thursday. His preference? Chevys.

"The first car I ever had was a '34 Chevy, so I like seeing them here every year," Trott said.

The residents' preferences were important that night too. They were all asked to drop tickets into buckets placed in front of each vehicle they wanted to cast a vote for in categories like Most Memorable, Best in Show, and everyone's favorite, Most Likely to Get a Ticket.

Donald Baldinelli is the Sergeant at Arms of the NHVH Resident's Council, which the evening benefitted through 50/50 raffles, refreshment sales and donations. While he said he admired a pretty '57 Thunderbird, his eyes stayed fixed on a 1927 Ford Model T owned by NHVH staff member Melissa Libby and her father Jeff Libby.

"The paint job on this Model T just blows me away," he said. "I don't see a car here that beats it."

Melissa Libby appreciated his comments and said that she and her dad first bought just the rusted shell of the Model T then took its restoration on as a joint project. For three years they sand blasted the body, added a 410 horsepower, 5.7-liter Corvette engine, then turned it over for a professional paint job and restoration of the upholstery.

"We did as much of it as we could do together. It was a lot of fun," Melissa said.

The results drew a lot of appreciative attention at Cruise Night

Baldinelli was pleased with the turnout that night, saying it is always a great time for not just the car owners, but the residents and their families as well.

"It keeps us all busy and I know I like staying busy, too," he said.

In his eyes, he added, every car that took part in the event was a winner.

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