They're still driving Miss Dot's Impala

·2 min read

Her name was Dorothy Fulgham. But everyone called her Dot. Miss Dot.

Miss Dot with the brown car.

Her grandson, Jean-Paul Etienne, is familiar with the car. His remembers that his grandmother retired a year early when he was a first grader in Mrs. Lantz's class at St. James Episcopal School in Baton Rouge so she could transport him since there was no school bus.

She would pull up out front in her shiny 1972 Chevrolet Impala — painted a color called Honey Bear Brown — and hold a cardboard placard with the number "70" written on it out the window. "All the first graders had a number and when your ride arrived you got sent out," the Bloomington eye doctor recalled. "That's the car she drove me to school in every day. It had air conditioning, something she hadn't had before. I loved my grandma's car."

That's fortunate, since he inherited the black-vinyl-roofed car when Fulgham died 10 years ago. But not much has changed; it remains parked under the carport at his late grandmother's home in Ackerman, Miss. "It still runs ... with a little coaxing,” said Patricia Havranek, Fulgham’s daughter and Etienne's mother. She lives part of the year in Bloomington and the rest at her mother's Mississippi house.

"It has little rust and has got around 65,000 on the odometer," she said of the car her mother bought new on June 13, 1972. "So many happy memories are associated with it."

When her son visits, he tends to the car. "I tinker with it, check the fluids, drive it around town," he said. "Everybody in the neighborhood, it seems, knows the car. They remember my grandmother driving it."

In 1985, Fulgham bought a new Oldsmobile Delta 88. Instead of trading in her Chevrolet, she kept it for her grandson, who didn't get his driver's license until years later.

Etienne talks about bringing the car to Bloomington and having the motor refurbished, and some rust on the rear wheel wells repaired. The driver's seat upholstery needs to be redone, and he wants to replace the headliner. "It doesn't need much," he said. "For a 40-year-old car, it's in good condition."

It might be a while before he backs Miss Dot's Impala out from the carport where it's been parked four decades and drives it away for good.

"It's a staple there on the carport at the house, and I don't know if I could take it away from there. It's like part of coming home. You turn the corner and you see the brown car there and you know everything is right."

Got a story to tell about a car or truck? Call 812-331-4362, send an e-mail to lane@heraldt.com or a letter to My Favorite Ride, P.O. Box 909, Bloomington, IN 47402.

Jean-Paul Etienne inherited this 1972 Chevy Impala from his grandmother, Dorothy Fulgham, after she died a decade ago. Courtesy photo
Jean-Paul Etienne inherited this 1972 Chevy Impala from his grandmother, Dorothy Fulgham, after she died a decade ago. Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: They're still driving Miss Dot's Impala

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