Hatteberg's People - Ralph And Joan Thrash

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May 9, 2010

In high school, there is nothing like the love between a guy and his girl and a guy and his car. For Ralph Thrash of Hutchinson, he got the girl, but the car got away for over 50 years. But now the car and the girl who never left are all back together again.

As the old commercial says, A 1950 Ford was a thing of beauty. Ralph Thrash now of Hutchinson knew all about it. At West High School in Wichita, he had one, but he sold it in 1958.

“I probably paid less than a thousand dollars for it, because it was three years old when I bought it,” Ralph said.

Today, he has it back. It is this car where he dated his wife Joan in Wichita, back in the ‘50’s. Joan never left, but the car did.

“A lot of people quiz me about how can I find the old car that I had in high school? That’s almost an impossible task. I was very, very fortunate to be able to find this car,” Ralph said.

Over the years Ralph has owned nearly three dozen vehicles and he loved every one of them, even a Delorean from the late ‘70’s. In the grocery business all his life, he kept cars as his hobby, but never stopped thinking about that 1950 Ford from high school.

“I think that it has been the greatest thing in the world,” Ralph said. “I love it.”

It took a 10 year search to find this car. Using nothing but a tag number and a picture the car was traced to Michigan. Now completely restored, Joan and Ralph are still the same high school kids, she from East High, he from West, who married their senior year and never looked back. For them the 1950’s never ended.

“My brother says I drive like an old man now,” Ralph said. “Well, I am an old man.Now used to, she would take this hand and she would shift. I had my arm around her like this.”

“So he couldn’t shift,” Joan said.

“So I couldn’t shift, so she shifted. We could even speed shift this thing. I could just leave my foot on the gas and she would pop the clutch and she would slam it in second gear. That was the way we used to drive all the time,” Ralph said.

“We still love each other after all these years even most of the time anyway,” Joan said. “I think it’s cool. We both enjoy life a lot. I’m really thankful, and I think God has been a big part of our life and without his help we probably wouldn’t have made it this far.”

It’s pretty phenomenal.

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