Rocking chair

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

But Shirley and Jerry Holt don’t have a worry in the world when they cruise around in their VW “rocking chair” that gets them everywhere.

It’s a custom-made ride consisting of “95 percent Volkswagen and 5 percent Honda motorcycle” with a Volkswagen engine, 1600 dual port, Harley Davidson shield and bits and pieces of generators, lawnmowers and more.

The street legal-vehicle is registered with antique tags, and as long as it’s “riding weather,” these “sweethearts” are riding.

Both widows, Shirley and Jerry have known each other for six years now, and instead of retreating to a nursing home, he said, “She takes care of me, and I take care of her, the best we know how.

“We’re soul mates. She’s a sweetheart,” he added.

These soulmates have always enjoyed riding, and they used to ride on two wheels, until an accident sent their motorcycle one-way and them the other.

Now they stay away from two-wheeled vehicles, but they decided that wasn’t going to stop them from getting out.

Roughly two years ago, Holt went to work with a goal to have a ride ready by Shirley’s birthday, so he pulled out a 1976 Volkswagen and got an engine from the late Lt. Quentin Clark.

“He actually inspired me to finish it. There were several times when I wanted to give up, but he wouldn’t let me,” said Holt.

While Jerry was busy spending hours cutting and welding with the help of Shirley, who he says had a “big hand” in creating it by sanding rust away, helping installing insulation and banging and holding when needed, Clark would often stop in to make sure the two were still working.

When it was all complete, Shirley got the first ride on her birthday at noon, but it wasn’t long before Clark came by to hop on the back.

“He said it was awesome and that we did a good job,” said Holt. “Without him, I would’ve stopped.”

After it was finished, the couple agreed it needed a name, and first Jerry suggested “Shirley’s toy,” but Shirley said she wasn’t too fond of that.

“One day we were riding, and Shirley said, ‘this sure is a smooth ride, almost as easy as a rocking chair’,” said Jerry, and with that, their new ride had a name.

The “built - not bought” machine isn’t the first auto creation Jerry has tackled.

He’s from Burbank, California, where he worked for Barris Kustom Industries, a company responsible for designing Hollywood custom cars such as the Batmobile and the Munster Koach.

“Anyone can customize a car and make something like new again, but we wanted to make something that catches attention, and we’re so proud of it,” said Holt.

It scoots all around the county with them every chance they get, and it has even traveled to Charleston, West Virginia, and all over North Carolina for parades and car shows.

“It always wins most unique. It’s one of a kind,” said Holt.

Creating the car started off as just wanting a fun ride to keep Shirley and Jerry going, but it’s garnered more attention than they could ever have imagined.

When they ride it across town, people always smile and wave, give a thumbs up or stop them to ask for photos, especially the children.

“But, we don’t mind. We’re both people persons,” said Holt.

Now the couple hopes to build doors for the car, and he said they plan to build a trailer, so they can pull it to shows further away.

Holt even has more supplies and ideas, and he encourages anyone who would like to learn how to build cars to stop by.

Keep a look out for the “rocking chair” cruising through town to Riverdale where Jerry and Shirley like to stop at Sheetz before making it to Dairy Dell for ice cream or maybe catch a peek at it at Shirley’s Thrift Shop in Halifax. 

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com