The year Roger Petit was born, the price of a Ford Model T was $310, a new home cost around $6,200, and newspapers were a mere two cents.
That was in 1921.
Petit, a U.S. Army veteran who served in World War II, officially turns 100 on Oct. 21, but the North Attleboro resident got an early birthday present on Sunday afternoon — a parade of cars passing by his house to wish him many happy returns.
Feted by nine of his family members, including his daughter Irene Ficicchy of Attleboro and son Roger Petit of Swansea, Petit sat in a wheelchair in his driveway, waiting for what his relatives told him was a new car.
“Do you know why you’re out here?” Ficicchy asked her father as he sat quietly.
“No,” Petit replied.
“Wait a few minutes; you’ll see,” Ficicchy told him.
Only a few minutes later, to Petit’s surprise, a procession of nine cars — a few vintage models among them — came down the street, horns honking and motorists waving, calling out birthday wishes and thank-yous to the frail veteran.
The parade had been arranged as a surprise for Petit by Melanie Dubois of Pawtucket, whose mother, Elaine Sousa of North Attleboro, has been Petit’s companion for many years.
According to Dubois, Petit did not discuss his years of service in WWII very often.
However, what Dubois does know was that Petit was part of the Allies’ landing on Normandy Beach during D-Day on June 6, 1944.
“This is my gift to him,” Dubois said of Petit’s milestone birthday parade. “I definitely feel like he deserves some form of recognition...he is a WWII veteran, and that generation is dying.”
The surprise birthday treat brought tears to the eyes of Petit’s relatives who witnessed the procession, and saw how happy Petit was with it.
Petit shed a few tears of happiness, too.
“You deserve it; God bless you,” Dubois told Petit when he gave his thanks.
Dubois and Petit’s family were grateful for all who participated in the car parade.
“He definitely enjoyed it,” Dubois said. “He really took it in and became sentimental. He understands it was for his service.”