By Jay R. Thompson
Returning to the past isn't easy.
For some, the road is too full of holes and the road signs no longer familiar, or maybe the years have left the body unable to make the trip.
Sometimes, however, the past can come to you.
Monkton resident Joe Heacock and other members of his car club parked about a dozen shiny old Lincolns at the Mercy Ridge Retirement Community in Timonium for a few hours Sept. 12 so the community's residents could enjoy a small, private show of these automobiles from their youths.
"They can't get out and go to a car show," Heacock said.
Heacock hoped that some of the residents might have memories of the cars.
"Whether it be in the back seat or the front seat, we don't know," he quipped.
George Oxx, executive director of Mercy Ridge, said this wasn't the first time the retirement community hosted such an event.
"We've had a couple of car shows here before," Oxx said, noting one group that brought in Model A vehicles.
In addition to Mercy residents, those from nearby retirement and hospice care communities Stella Maris and St. Elizabeth's Hall were also invited, along with residents of Gallagher Services, a care facility for developmentally disabled adults, and St. Vincent's Center and Villa Maria, facilities for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
"We all just happen to be neighbors," said Ellen Torres, director of development at St. Vincent's Center.
Though rain curtailed residents' ability to examine the cars for long, organizers and guests said they appreciated the chance to see the vintage machines.
Bob Cavanaugh of Middletown was visiting his father-in-law, Sam Baxter, a resident of Mercy Ridge, and saw the show advertised in the center.
"I though it was wonderful," said Cavanaugh of the car club's gesture. "It was a nice show, and a nice little walk down memory lane."
The Lincolns are from an era when many of Mercy's residents would have been driving -- and when the distinctive rounded hoods of the 1940s were transitioning to the flat-hood look of the 1950s.
Heacock is a member of the Road Race Lincoln Register, a club for owners of Lincolns from 1949 to 1957. He hosted the club's first meet in Frederick 25 years ago and, since then, the annual meetings have been held in Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other locations.
This year, the Lincoln-lovers came from far and wide to meet in Timonium at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
"One couple came all the way from New Brunswick, Canada," Heacock said.
The host of the meet chooses the weekend's itinerary, so when Heacock was selected to host the 25th anniversary meet, he thought it would be nice to include an outreach event benefiting those who might find it difficult to come out for a show. He admits he didn't come up with the idea on his own.
"I saw it in a magazine that another car club did the same thing," he said.
The Lincoln has a colorful history. According to Heacock,
Lincolns manufactured from 1952 to 1955 participated in the Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico -- an open road race running north from Mexico's southern border with Guatemala to the U.S. border People stood along the road and watched cars drive by at 120 mph.
"The Lincolns dominated it in 1952," Heacock said.
But the race lasted just five years.
"It was stopped because so many people got killed -- spectators," Heacock said.
That race may have been short lived, but drivers' love of those cars has remained.
"They're just well-built, beautiful cars," Heacock said.