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Friday, July 25, 2014

Picturing the Past 112: Garage operators

Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 2:46 PM

(Photo)
Independent garage operators in the Shelbyville-Bedford County area at a carburetor school in the 1950s or 1960s. (Dickerson Studios photo)
We're back. Sorry for missing last week's PTP, but I was up to my ears in a combination of special section production work and attempting to help reunite Alabama tornado victims with photos blown into Bedford and surrounding counties. We're up to 448 found so far and probably 100 or more returned with more to go.

The production's not the best on this clipping from a printed page, but it was originally a contributed photo so we don't have the negative -- or the photo itself. But these guys deserve recognition for helping keep Bedford County rolling.

Recognize them? They're the Independent Garagemen's Association of Bedford County and I'm guessing this is from somewhere in the 1950s or early 1960s. They'd attended a 10-week carburetor school.

From left, front row, are Jack Thompson, Ernest Allen, James Elkins, Bob Majors, instructor Floyd Reed and James Hoover; second row, Garner Warren, my grandfather Morton Overcast, Clyde Curlee, Hugh Pierce, Everett Gibson, Ray Carroll; back row, Joe Cartwright, S.N. Bellenfant Jr., Bob Bellenfant, Tommy Gilliland and John Helton. I imagine many of you did business at some point with these men.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Floyd Reed and Roy "Buck" Carroll handled my family's mechanical work for a long period of time when they were located out West Lane St. at the triangle, as it was referred to by many at the time.

I was also acquainted with Hugh Pierce, and knew several of the others pictured above well enough to speak to them by name, and heard of a couple of the others. The thing that stands out in my mind more than anything else about this picture is the fact that I don't recall a single "horror story" about any of these gentlemen related to the way they conducted their business. A pretty good group, I'd say.

As to the time frame, just a pure guess based on some facts that may have no relevance whatsoever to this class. First, I think a class this large would almost have to be conducted in a place designed for such business, and the Reed and Carroll garage was not such a place. Second, the fact that Floyd Reed was the instructor of this class, and if not badly mistaken, was the first automotive instructor at the tech school on Madison St., causes me to think that location was where this class was likely held. Again, if not mistaken, the tech school opened in 1964, and this class could have been then or anytime after. Just a guess, no facts upon which to guarantee anything.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, May 31, 2011, at 4:27 PM

Joe Cartwright was our school bus driver in 1957-58, and he seemed to be older then than he looks in this pic.

-- Posted by Cal t on Tue, May 31, 2011, at 10:56 PM

In my younger days I really enjoyed hanging out at Hugh Pierce's shop. His constant companion in those days was a lovable old bulldog with a dark ring around one of his eyes. He was appropriately named "Blackeye". I can almost hear Mr. Pierce hollering out that dog's name to this day.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 12:28 AM

I tend to agree with Cal t on the time frame. My Dad worked with James Elkins and Bob Majors at Elkins' Service Station in the mid-50s, and I'd say--based on the apparent age of Elkins/Majors in the picture--this may have been taken early to mid-50s.

-- Posted by dkd57 on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 9:33 AM

Clyde Curlee was my granddaddy. Of course, I don't remember him being a mechanic, but I've heard my mom and my aunt speak of those days many times through the years. When he passed away several years ago, we ran across and old ledger book that he kept all his transactions written on. For some reason, I wanted to keep that old book....I guess maybe so I would have a tangible piece of his past?

-- Posted by k_collins39 on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 10:05 AM

I am proud to say that Clyde Curlee is my daddy. I kept a ledger book he used at the ESSO station on Belmont Ave. Wish we could pay those prices now days!

Thanks so much for posting this picture. I don't remember ever seeing it before!

-- Posted by doravesp on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 11:19 AM

The caption under the photo in the clipping said it was made at Bedford Auto Supply Co.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 3:08 PM

I was so excited to see this picture of my Dad, Morton Overcast, and how it brings back so many memories. I knew when I saw it that I had inherited a scrap book that contained pictures, certificates, and other memorabilia of his days as a mechanic. I found the picture and a certificate next to it. It was a field service course for the maintenance and repair of Rochester Carburetors which was a division of General Motors. The date is June 10, 1958 and is signed by Floyd Reed, Instructor and a zone service manager and a general service manager. I agree with David that it was held at Bedford Auto Supply. I am familiar with all the names and could put the names with the faces on some of them. Thanks David for the memory.

-- Posted by cookie on Wed, Jun 1, 2011, at 4:07 PM

I think the location is Bedford Auto Supply because that's the auto supply store that belonged to Junior and Bob Bellenfant and they're in the picture. I don't recall them doing any auto mechanics. You've got the date.

-- Posted by walrite on Thu, Jun 2, 2011, at 1:35 PM

doravesp, Please help me to establish a timeline in my mind. Was your Father at Belmont Esso before Roy Stallings or after him.

walrite, I think that you just answered another question for me. I could not remember where the Bellefant brothers worked as mechanics. I could only remember that they had the parts house on North Main.

I remember most of these men, even the ones who had garages in outlying areas such as Dolittle and Deason.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 2, 2011, at 3:32 PM

leeiii, Please tell me where is Dolittle? I was born and raised in Shelbyville and I never heard of it. Does it still exist?

-- Posted by cookie on Thu, Jun 2, 2011, at 4:05 PM

My Dad and Mother and most of their families were born and raised in the Unionville area. The families from that area always referred to the Unionville area as Dolittle. It was not a term of derision but a term of pride. Dad always referred to the Dolittle Schoolhouse, and the Dolittle Store. My Great Grandfather rode and fought with General Nathan Bedford Forest in the Forest Escort all through the Civil War and is buried at the Dolittle Methodist Church. I guess that it is a term that has always abided with me because of my parents and their reference to it.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jun 2, 2011, at 4:34 PM

My Father, who is in the photo, was in the third generation raised in an 1830's farm home in the Dolittle area...My Uncle Walter Little, who owned the Dolittle Store (Trailways Bus Stop), served with Alvin York in WWI where he was Wounded in Action...He owned a 1907 Sears Automobile with a steering "lever"...He had an Orange Tree in a large planter and would tie a ripe Orange on a limb and when a tourist asked where they were he told them they were "getting close to Florida"...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Fri, Jun 3, 2011, at 7:45 AM

FlaDon, I remember "Pallen" Little well from my childhood. If I am not mistaken, I drank my first Dr. Pepper from his drink box, and I fell in love with Dr. Pepper. It is still my soft drink of choice today.

-- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Jun 3, 2011, at 9:33 AM

If I'm not mistaken, the fourth man from the left on the front row is James Vester Hopper instead of James Hoover. I think Mr. Hopper was working for Studebaker around the time the picture was taken. In later years he worked for Ford. This appears to be the same clipping as what is displayed in the Shelbyville Museum and has this man identified as James Vester Hopper.

-- Posted by sassy255 on Thu, Jun 9, 2011, at 2:52 PM

FlaDon, You are a cousin I did not know I had. I am on the Little side. My mother was Sallie B. Little. Uncle Walter had a wry sense of humor. I would like to talk to you.734-453-3671, Thanks ron

-- Posted by ifitis on Sat, Jun 11, 2011, at 10:23 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.