(WBIR - East Knox County) On Strawberry Plains Pike in Knox County, the small car port attached to the home of 77-year-old David Solomon sits vacant. That is, with the exception of some broken glass from the shattered passenger-side window of his stolen vehicle. For the last few decades, the spot has been faithfully reserved for the automotive love of Solomon's life.
"It's a 1984 Buick Grand National. I worked as a milkman and delivering propane way back when and saw that car in a magazine and said that is what I want. I worked really hard to get enough money to buy it. In 1984, I got the first one to come to Knoxville Buick. Of course, your family and people come first, but my car came second," laughed Solomon. "It had a V-6 turbo and it would run. I took really good care of it."
Solomon's passion for the vehicle was fueled by a love of cars he shared with his son, David Solomon, Jr.
"My boy, he was a car guy, too. He loved cars and when I bought this car he bought a Buick Monte Carlo," said Solomon.
"My uncle and my grandpa, we call them 'Little David' and 'Big David.' They both love cars so much and spent a lot of time together working on Papaw's car," said Devyn Elam as she stood in her grandfather's now vacant driveway. "That car really meant a lot to my uncle. He died of cancer last January and he was just 50 years old."
"Yeah, my boy passed away and my wife and I didn't think we were going to survive it," said Solomon.
Solomon managed to cope with the grief and find some peace, therapy, and a level of closeness with his departed son by working on that old 1984 Buick in recent months.
"It meant a lot. Taking care of that car, it made me happy," said Solomon.
Monday morning the void in Solomon's broken heart was matched by shattered glass and an empty space beneath his car port.
"My wife, she got up and came outside and said, 'David, your car is gone.' I said a few choice words and the right door's glass was laying there on the ground. There are tire tracks from where whoever stole it backed it up and drove it through the yard," said Solomon.
Now Solomon's family is filled with a strong resolve to locate the missing component in "Papaw's" life.
"We've been trying to get the word out," said Elam. "We drove around this morning handing out fliers. We're offering a $2,000 cash reward for anyone who can help us recover the car. We started a Facebook group and called it Help Find Papaw's stolen Buick Grand National and it already has a few hundred 'likes.' None of us have been able to sleep and we are all sick at our stomachs until we can find that car."
Elam said the car has also been a point of reference for her 'papaw' as age robs him of his memory.
"Just old age is starting to make it harder for him to remember things. That car always brings back so many memories for papaw. To me, it would mean so much if we could get it back because like we've said, it's not just a car. It's memories that we can't get back."
Solomon said he is hopeful the vehicle that carries a lifetime of love and family devotion under the hood will be reunited with its rightful owner.
"That car, it means a lot. It's part of the family," said Solomon.
Anyone with information on the stolen vehicle is asked to contact the Knox County Sheriff's Office at 865-215-2243. Tips can also be submitted anonymously at this link to the KCSO website tip page.