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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Local woman's project holds special memories

  • You may have seen the car in the Dodge City Days parade or the Christmas parade. If you did, it surely brought a smile to your face.
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  • You may have seen the car in the Dodge City Days parade or the Christmas parade. If you did, it surely brought a smile to your face.
    With thousands of pieces of costume jewelry glued to it, the 1983 Chevy Cavalier station wagon is definitely an eye-catcher.
    And the car is fulfilling the mission for which Janice McCabe created it.
    "I just wanted it to make people smile," she said in an interview Monday.
    But that's not the whole story.
    McCabe and her husband, Kenny, lost their son, Jesse, to bladder cancer on Sept. 4 last year.
    "I had started this project when Jesse got his diagnosis. Then we spent eight months in Phoenix with Jesse. During the time between his diagnosis and his death, I just got a feeling that I had to get this done or it would never be finished," she said.
    During that time, McCabe worked on the car 10 hours a day for nearly eight weeks.
    Jesse has helped his mother get the project started. He hot glued his belt buckle to the front edge of the hood.
    His mother touches the buckle as she talks about the car and the process of completing it.
    "My brother said to start with the hardest parts, so I picked a little panel behind the right front tire," McCabe said.
    The panel, which measures eight by six inches, took 58 pieces to complete.
    After that, McCabe lost track of the number of pieces she attached to the vehicle.
    "Those low panels were hard — I sat on the cold concrete floor to do those," she said.
    McCabe collected the jewelry when another medical diagnosis changed her life in 1998.
    She was working as a meat inspector for USDA.
    "It's basically a man's job but I was doing it — it's a dangerous job too," she said.
    Because of job-related stress, McCabe was taking a number of medications and starting to have stomach bleeding.
    "I still remember Dr. Avila pointing his finger at me and saying 'You find something to do with your life and stop taking these medications.' So I thought I could spend what I had been spending on medicine to buy costume jewelry," she said.
    McCabe began collecting — estate sales, auctions, garage sales, aunts, her mother — and before long she had three 55 gallon drums full of jewelry.
    And she had a car in mind.
    Her brother, Rusty, had a car she thought would be perfect.
    "It was an itty-bitty little home-made car that didn't even have a motor," she said.
    In the end, it was the '83 Chevy that won out.
    Page 2 of 2 - The car had belonged to Kenny's dad.
    "When dad died, I told mom I wanted that car to drive to work, so she wrote my brother a check for $400 and gave me the car," Kenny said.
    Kenny agreed to let Janice use the car for her jewelry project and in August of 2006 the hot glue guns were fired up and the first pieces attached.
    McCabe secured the final piece, a diamond ring, in November of 2010.
    "If you had to go out and buy the jewelry new, it would be thousands of dollars — after I glued on one piece I saw it on Ebay and it's a vintage $300 Miriam Haskell piece," she said.
    McCabe took the car to auto body shops hoping to get it clear coated to protect the pieces and help hold them on, but no one wanted to attempt the project.
    "The jeweler at K Martin suggested we get spray cans of lacquer, so we did that," McCabe.
    Now the car sits in storage except for the occasional parade or car show.
    "We won the people's choice award at a car show and, you know, the guys enjoyed it as much as the women did. Everybody can find something their mother used to wear," McCabe said.
    McCabe hopes to find a home for her creation.
    "I just think somebody should have it in a place where it can be enjoyed," she said.
    And when the sun shines brightly on the bejeweled car, it's hard to miss. There's no doubt that the sun reflects off that belt buckle on the hood brightly enough to reach all the way up to heaven.

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