Senior Living

By Kit Grode DONIPHAN—Drive east downWest Platte River Road fromHighway 281, and you’ll come upon an unassuming red and white-painted brick building on the corner within a few blocks. The “BAY” sign on the corner is a remnant of its history as a Sinclair gas station, but the “Gary’s Hotrods” sign on its west face denotes its current use as the workshop of Doniphan resident Gary Hedman. Hedman, past president and CEO of the Southern Public Power District, bought the building in 2003. “I cherish old cars, and I kinda cherish the old building. I try to fix it up a little bit,” Hedman said. Built in 1922, the building has changed hands several times. It began as a gas station, and was also at one point an auto body shop. Later, it was home to a bullet factory. The building came up for sale again when HornadyManufac- turing bought out Doniph- an-based 3-DAmmunition Inc. In 2003, Hedman drove by, saw the “For Sale” sign, and thought, “Hm, well, I could sure use that.” ‘My shop, my sanctuary’ “I had a very professional, serious job. I had a big company and lots of responsibilities and all that stuff,” Hedman said. “The car hobby was my outlet from those pressures and tensions. “I would take care of business, and then in the evenings and weekends I would come down here and straighten old metal and work on cars and this and that. That would provide me enough break to renew my energy level to do my regular job.” Between when Hedman purchased the shop and when he retired from SPPD, he picked up pieces of machinery and tools to outfit the shop, “so that when I got to retirement age, that I’d have a fully equipped shop. I’ve got pretty much everything,” Hedman said. It used to be that he didn’t have everything, namely time, but “now I’ve got all the time I want. I’ve got all the tools I need,” he said. Personality to spare “There are two kinds of shops,” Hedman said while showing off the space. “We have the kind that is more of a showplace, with a polished floor and cars that are all pristine and everything — I build cars in here.” Hedman has four cars in driving condition, and two projects he’s splitting time on at the moment, although he cautioned that the work really is never done. His workshop currently houses three of his drivable vehicles, including a 1960 Chevy Nomad station wagon affectionately named the “Blue Turd.” “I bought the car because I wanted to go to some of those events where they have lead sleds and old customs, and boy this baby fits in,” he said. It’s enormous. There are no door handles. Some of the trim has been taken off. It has Cadillac tail lights and a hula girl on the dash. The interior is metal-flake vinyl “like some- thing that came out of a bar in the ’60s.” It sits on airbags that can push it up and down. “The car just kinda has a personality,” Hedman said. “I’ve connected with a lot of younger people (while driving) and they say, ‘Oh, that’s such a neat car. Don’t change a thing.’ “Well, I don’t want to change a thing because it’s a lot of work to change that,” he said, “We just kind of said it was like an old shoe, and it was blue … and we started calling it ‘The Blue Turd.’” At one of the shows he attended, Hedman admitted, he met a pinstriper accommodat- ing enough to engrave, quite skillfully, a beautiful nameplate for the vehicle on its back end. Lessons learned along the way The “Blue Turd,” though a favorite of his friends and family, isn’t Hedman’s favorite car in the shop. A 1940 Ford convertible sits in prime position in front of the garage door. “It’s probably my nicest car,” he said. “It contains features and things that I learned along the way, so the ride on this car is exceptionally better than anything else I’ve got.” • Controlled Entry Buildings • Community Rooms • Laundry Rooms • Inside Mailboxes • Elevator Within Building Call Now To Reserve Your New Apartment Home & Become A Part Of This Friendly Community & enjoy… These apartments let you enjoy the beauty and delight of senior living without the worry of yard work or home maintenance. GRANDVIEW APARTMENTS FOR SENIORS 62+ 3423 Kelly Street • Grand Island (308) 382-6163 • Rent Based On Income • Individual Heating & Air Conditioning • 24 Hour Emergency Maintenance An Independent Lifestyle With You In Mind! Small Pets Welcome The Grand Island Independent THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020 4A senior LIVING HOBBIES & HANDICRAFTS Gary Hedman (at left) stands in front of an American flag used as a window covering in his custom car shop in Doniphan. Hedman, a former president and CEO of the Southern Public Power District, is now retired. In his retirement, Hedman now spends several hours each day working in his shop. He has four restored cars in running condition, including a 1940 Ford convertible (front end pictured at top) and a customized 1960 Chevy Nomad station wagon affectionately named “Blue Turd,” whose Cadillac tail lights are seen above. Independent/Barrett Stinson Gary Hedman walks by a 1940 Ford convertible in his custom car shop in Doniphan. Hedman bought the building, built in 1922, in 2003. The building has been home to a Sinclair gas station, an auto body shop and an ammunition depot. It currently houses three of Hedman’s four cars in running condition, and two more that are under construction. Independent/ Barrett Stinson ‘I build cars in there’: Hedman’s shop is not a display case Continued on page 5A