by peggy purser freeman | photos by ren risner and provided by the patterson family.
Take a drive down memory lane as you’re cruisin’ through rows and rows of over forty classic cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and more at P’s Crazy Cars Museum. In the spring of 2018, Harry Patterson decided to do something with all the cars he had collected over the years. Patterson recently talked with me as he relaxed in the mountains of New Mexico and I sat at my desk in Texas.
“I always loved cars,” he explained. “From time to time, I’d find one I wanted to hang on to and would put it in a garage somewhere. Then I’d forget about it. Jamie Johnson, one of my horse trainers, and I got to talking. He also restored cars on the side and did restoration on a few of my vehicles. Over a period of time, I had built up quite a few and moved them to an empty building over on Midwestern Parkway. We started calling them crazy cars because they were kind of different—unique.”
Unique definitely defines the museum’s 1938 Ford race car. The Indy 500 replica was refurbished by George Barringer’s son. Barringer, an American race car driver from Wichita Falls, raced during the 1930s and 1940s. Free to the public, the museum showcases unique and classic vehicles from motorcycles and tractors to fire trucks, including a 1910 Knox and a 2018 Dodge Demon. Patterson throws in the opportunity to donate to two of Patterson Auto Group’s favorite charities, Wichita Christian School and the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire, New Mexico.
“When I turned 16, I started working in the summer and after school at a service station. Then I started messing with engines, building hot-rods, racing cars and things such as that.”
On his tenth birthday, Patterson’s dad taught him to drive the 1950 model Ford like one in the museum. Growing up in Moore, Oklahoma in the 1950s, Harry Patterson’s first vehicle to purchase was a 1953 Ford pickup. Next was a 1957 Chevrolet. “When I turned 16, I started working in the summer and after school at a service station, filling cars with gas, cleaning windshields, fixing flats, etc. Then I started messing with engines, building hot-rods, racing cars and things such as that.” As the years went by, his love for unique and unusual cars could only be surpassed by his love for God, his wife, Brenda, and our country. After graduation in 1964, he attended Oklahoma Christian College then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he worked for a veterinarian.
“I worked mostly with the veterinarian’s horses while working towards my Agriculture Economics degree. Then I ended up spending two years in ‘68 and ‘69 with the Army’s 5th Infantry Division Mechanized. Several of us who served together reunited 38 years after Vietnam. We have a retreat every couple of years.” Patterson grew quiet for a moment, as veterans often do while talking about their service. He received the bronze star decoration while serving and was an honored recipient of the Veterans Honor Flight to Washington, DC in 2018. “This was a real honor and far beyond my wildest dreams,” he continued, talking about the trip accompanied by his son, Anthony. “The time at the memorial in DC, and what I got out of it, can’t really be explained.”
Brenda & Harry Patterson
The heart of Harry Patterson revolves around family. “Before we had children,” he said, “we spent time around friends in Arlington, Texas, who sent their children to a Christian school. We liked what we saw, and so we committed to provide our children with a Christian education. When we moved to Wichita Falls, our church, Edgemere Church of Christ, had a school for four-year-old’s. I got on the board and just took it along with our children as they grew up. Now it’s a kindergarten through 12th grade program.” Patterson is the past president of Wichita Christian School and has served on the board for over thirty-five years. The museum is proud to offer Wichita Christian School as one of the non-profit organizations in which visitors may provide a donation.
“School became a ministry dear to us,” Patterson said. “Our children are grown now. Our son is part of the Wichita Falls Patterson Auto Group. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids live in Dallas. When we spend time with our seven-year-old and two-year-old grandkids, we’re on cloud nine.”
“When we moved to Wichita Falls we committed to provide our children with a Christian education.”
A free visit to P’s Crazy Cars Museum gives patrons an additional opportunity to do good by donating to the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center (NVHWC) in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Harry and Brenda have been involved in this life-changing resource since 2009. To date, the NHWC has successfully conducted 35 retreats. They have honed their program to help reduce the symptoms of PTSD in veterans by 30-67%. The Veterans Freedom Retreat in Texas is patterned after the very successful program developed by Colonel Chuck Howe in 2009 at the NHWC in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Attending the first retreat can reduce the overall symptoms of PTSD in veterans by 38%.
“PTS, I don’t call it PTSD because it’s not a disorder, Disorders, in my opinion, are a condition that can’t be corrected.”
“PTS, I don’t call it PTSD because it’s not a disorder,” Patterson explained. “Disorders, in my opinion, are a condition that can’t be corrected. With PTS we can work together to get through it, and then we can help others. Brenda and I had a passion to bring a chapter to minister to veterans and their families in Texas.” The Veterans Freedom Retreat (VFR) is a free, week-long retreat for veterans and their partners where they will begin their journey to being free from the stress of past traumas. It also includes free follow-up counseling. The retreat employs a holistic approach which treats body, mind, heart, and soul of veterans with PTS(D) and their families. “We have access here in Wichita Falls to a great facility, Coyote Ranch RV Park, accommodating for the week retreat with professionals coming from New Mexico. Excuse me, but I get teary-eyed talking about this. We have people here who are really making a difference. Learning to communicate makes a difference. When one spouse can understand the other, it makes a difference in your entire life. Going through that retreat week together heals.”
Harry’s other passion is horses. The Patterson’s are nationally known for promoting and training Missouri Fox Trotters. “How did the owner of multiple car dealerships, who employs around 400 associates, develop an interest in Missouri Fox Trotters?” I asked. “To be honest with you, I was selling a car and one thing led to another and I ended up trading for a horse. It turned out to be a Fox Trotter. My aunt up in Nebraska was involved with gaited Missouri Fox Trotting horses. Now we raise, train, breed, show, buy, and sell Missouri Fox Trotters.”
Harry Patterson, extraordinary businessman, family man and God’s man. I asked him for his secret. “We move toward what we think about. As an example, if you’re an archer, as you’re drawing that bow, wanting to hit that bullseye, you actually hit the target before you ever release the bow. The same is true in golf. You make the putt in your mind before you ever hit the ball. Power of positive thinking is important, but so is surrounding yourself with good things because you think about what surrounds you. If you surround yourself with garbage and think about those things, then that’s where you will be heading.” †