By Sue Moore
Old timers in Vicksburg might remember the Wee Diner and Doris Lee Sweet Shop, said Dan Ketchbaw, who has honored these two establishments by putting their name on his 1939 Ford coupe.
“My dad used to bring me to Vicksburg from our home in Comstock to eat at the Wee Diner. I remember it with great fondness. We didn’t often go to Doris Lee for dessert, but I loved the idea of the sweet shop anyway,” Ketchbaw said.
Also emblazoned on the restored car’s paint job is the number “89” for his wife’s pioneering heart transplant at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She had the surgery on May 8, 1989, and was the 89th transplant recipient in the state of Michigan. It was somewhat experimental at that time, but she pulled through without a hitch and is now healthy and happy, living with him in Vicksburg near Indian Lake for the last 24 years.
It took a lot to redo this car, almost four years, he said. “It should have been thrown away 15 years ago. I found this one that I could hack up and nobody would be mad at me. I built it from the ground up. It was junk when we pulled onto the property, but I love playing with cars, and I only work on Fords. It would make a good stock car with lots of horse power, racy, with a cute body style. I bought this one from Thad Reeder’s dad.”
According to Skip Knowles, this was the kind of Ford car that John Dillinger drove as a get-away car, because they were fast. It was the precursor to stock cars that were used in NASCAR races. It has a Flathead V8 engine that makes it ultrafast.
The car is also painted red and white for Vicksburg Bulldog colors, so the Ketchbaws show their loyalty to their home town in several different ways, Knowles acknowledged. He plans to park the car on the corner where the Wee Diner used to exist until it was removed from the exterior of the building on the northeast corner of Main and Prairie Streets. Doris Lee Sweet Shop was right around the corner from the Wee Diner on East Prairie until it closed in the 1990s.