Kent Silvester, left, discusses tactics with LeRoy Musick last week at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, where both are taking auto body classes. (Courtesy photo)
No journey’s too long when it comes to education
How far would you commute for an education?
By the time the current school year is over, Kent Silvester, 66, and LeRoy Musick, 76, both of Imperial, will have driven about 16,000 miles.
The two men are learning about classic car restoration at Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC) in North Platte. The route they take to get there is 100 miles, one way.
“It’s about an hour and 35 minutes unless we have to stop for a train or slow down for deer,” said Musick.
“Because we’re on Mountain Time and the college is on Central Time, we have to leave Imperial around 5 a.m,” he said.
They make the drive five days a week, often stopping along the way to pick up donuts for the rest of the class. Despite being time-consuming, the journey is one they always look forward to.
“The auto body program is a lot of fun, which is what we’re taking it for,” said Silvester. “It’s common to reach a crossroads after retirement, and start to wonder, ‘Do I buy a new recliner, or do I get out and do something?’ This program has really helped me keep active,” Silvester said.
It’s also put him in touch with a lot of new friends with similar interests, such as Musick. The two had been acquaintances for a long time. They met because Silvester used to frequent a restaurant owned by Musick in Imperial. However, it wasn’t until last summer that they really bonded over cars.
Silvester had been taking night classes through the college since January 2016 in an attempt to restore a 1970 Chevelle super sport 454 that had been sitting in his quonset for 25 years.
“I thought I could fix it up pretty quickly, but the more I got into it, the more damage I found,” said Silvester.
“The front fenders and rear quarter panels were bad, the wheel wells were rusted and the interior had been destroyed by mice and raccoons,” he noted.
Realizing the project would take more work than he originally thought, Silvester decided to enroll in the Auto Body Technology program full time in the fall. He then went on the hunt for someone to travel with, both for the company and to split the cost of gas.
Silvester knew Musick liked classic cars because he had seen him at car shows. He also knew Musick had a vehicle he was trying to fix up, a 1941 Mercury Convertible, purchased in pieces out of Missouri.
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