CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's enough to catch anybody's eye, especially someone that looks for interesting things for a living. That's why I asked the man driving the 1981 Cadillac hearse on I-277 to pull over.
He did. The reason he drives the hearse, decked from bumper to bumper with Carolina Panthers gear, is because he loves the Panthers, Joseph Blakeney told me Monday afternoon.
It's also because he couldn't sell it.
"I'm stuck with it, so I might as well fix it up and drive it and have fun," Blakeney said.
The 79-year-old Vietnam veteran said he gets a lot of honks and waves and laughs from people when he drives it around town. And that, he appreciates more than anything.
While the car might look like the work of a mad-man, it's not. Blakeney has been battling prostate cancer for several years, his doctors recently discovered it's worse.
Having fun is number one on his priority list right now.
"I'm still taking treatments and follow-ups and stuff like that," Blakeney said. He's been through radiation and surgery to remove tumors near his prostate.
Blakeney laughed as he suggested the notion everyone's thinking, "You know, old man driving an old hearse," he finished the statement with more laughing.
A vanity plate affixed to the back windshield says "Last Ride." A trailer in the back carries a realistic-looking casket that Blakeney likes to tell people carries his old war buddy "Clyde."
"I think he's looking down from heaven laughing," Blakeney said about his friend.
Opening the casket only reveals some old tools, a tire and a cooler... but it sure does sort of make you hold your breath when Blakeney slowly opens the lid. That prankish-type fun is why the man enjoys driving a hearse around town. And far be it for anyone to judge him. Especially once you know just why he enjoys it so much.
"It lifts me up, so here I am," Blakeney said. "As far as I'm concerned I'm doing great."