Last August, Larry Vance announced that he had sold Vance’s Citgo on U.S. 82 after over 30 years in business and that he planned to retire.
Well, he’s as active as ever today, still working at the store and getting around a lot easier thanks to a brand new truck that is probably the only one of its kind in Indianola.
Larry was paralyzed close to 50 years ago and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.
In fact, he had just been married to his wife, Sandra, days before the accident happened, he told The Enterprise-Tocsin last week.
“I was on my honeymoon,” Larry said. “I had been married for two days.”
A farm manager back then, he and his new bride were heading west to Dallas and decided to stop off for the night in Texarkana, Texas.
They got up the next morning and decided to go swimming.
“I dove off the diving board into the swimming pool and broke my neck,” Larry said.
Doctors in Texarkana operated on him. Larry said they took a bone from his hip and put it in his neck.
After two weeks, he was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he ran into his first complications.
“The bone jumped out of my neck, and they had to operate on me in Jackson and put it back in,” he said. “Then it jumped out again, and they had to operate on me one more time. That time, they screwed it in with a. plate.”
He ended up staying in Jackson for two months before being transferred to Memphis for rehabilitation.
“It was real hard,” Larry said of the adjustment during the first two years. “You go through a depressed stage. It took me a couple of years to kind of accept it. After that, I said, ‘Well, this was the hand that was dealt me. I’ve got to go do something with it.’”
Larry leased his first store in 1989.
He built what became Larry’s Citgo in 1991.
After decades of running the successful business, he announced last summer its sale to Money Singh, a businessman from Belzoni.
He told The E-T at the time he planned to retire, but last Thursday, he was still working at the store, and he was proud to show us his new ride.
What looks like a normal double cab GMC truck at first glance was actually converted specifically for Vance.
ATC Inversions, a North Carolina-based company, converted the driver’s side doors to open like a DeLorean car.
“Before, I had an old van that is 21 years old,” Larry said. “When I bought it, I could transfer into the seat and back out in the wheelchair. But 10 years ago, I had both rotator cuffs operated on, and once I did that, I could get into the seat in the van, because it was on my good side, but I couldn’t get back out into my wheelchair. Somebody had to help me get back out into my wheelchair.”
ATC’s conversion has given Vance the ability to drive again without any assistance.
“This right here, independence,” Larry said. “I can go anywhere I want to, do anything I want to. Come to work.”
Larry said he has had a some health issues in the past few months, but he is finally on the mend.
He’s back at work, and thanks to his new ride, he has more drive than ever.
Larry and Sandra will be married 50 years in July.
They have one daughter, Amanda Polasini, and two grandsons, Cade and Reeves Polasini.