Saturday, February 21, 2004

Sturdy Volvo has all she needs

Helen Overturf, 87, of Middletown, got her 1993 Volvo at the insistence of her children, who wanted her to drive something more substantial than her beloved Plymouth wagon.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MICHAEL SNYDER

Tell us what you are driving
Tempo/What Are You Driving?
The Cincinnati Enquirer,
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Cincinnati 45202;
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Helen Overturf is in very good health except for what's wrong with her. That's what the 87-year-old Middletown health food store owner says, deadpan, when the subject of her age arises. Sure, she has peripheral neuropathy, a condition that's slowly causing her to lose sensation in her fingers and toes. But that doesn't affect her driving any - she says she can still get a good grip on the wheel and pedals - and her eyesight and hearing are fine, she says.

Every Tuesday through Saturday, she gets in her white, 1993 Volvo station wagon and drives about three miles from her home to Helen's Health Foods on Central Avenue, where she serves up nutrition advice.

"I'm just as comfortable behind the wheel as I was 40 or 50 years ago," she says.

She got the Volvo at the insistence of her children, who wanted her to drive something heavier and sturdier than her beloved Plymouth wagon.

She's grown to enjoy the Volvo, though. It starts up when she turns the key, and it has air conditioning and a radio she keeps tuned to WGUC-FM (90.9).

Steve, a loyal customer, changes the oil regularly. And that's really all Overturf is concerned about.

"Cars are not my thing, honey," she says. "It's more important to me that it doesn't rattle and shake as I drive it."

She'd like to drive the Volvo to Boston to visit her new grandson. Her children are concerned about her making the long drive, but she's still intent on it.

"I'm hunting for a buddy to go with me," she says.

First car: "I think it was a Hudson."

Dream car: Doesn't have one. "I'm happy with this one."

—Lauren Bishop

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