Most of the time I don’t understand when I am learning something ... but if I pay close attention it might help me all through my life. Many of our customers, business connections and friends educated me in ways I suspect they never imagined.
For several years we serviced all of the delivery vehicles that were owned by the Southport Lumber Co., which at one time was 20. Most of the time we only had weekends to service and wash them. We also serviced the trucks for Edgewood Building Supply.
I learned a lot about planning and scheduling to make certain all the trucks were ready to go Monday morning. All of these vehicles were taken care of in one bay of our two-bay station. Because several of the trucks were too long to completely fit inside, we could not close the overhead door. This made working on them in the winter very interesting.
Fred Van Abeele, a vice president at Eli Lilly and Co., was one of our regular customers, and I always enjoyed talking to him.
We also got to know the Jack Elrod family. Jack was a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana National Guard at the time; he retired as adjutant general. He and my father were close friends, and Jack was instrumental in seeing that me and a few of my close buddies were able to join the Guard in the 1960s.
I remember going to his house a couple of times when he was rebuilding the automatic transmission in his car. He told me that he had never done anything like that so he purchased a book and decided to give it a try. I also recall that the car worked perfectly when reassembled and put back on the road.
In the small strip center just south of our gas station was Heaton’s Bakery, which was owned by George Heaton and a much smaller version of Long’s Bakery. I remember Mr. Heaton owning a Chrysler, and he always purchased 10 gallons of gas. He explained to me that if he were driving on a trip the mileage that he would get from 10 gallons (about $3) would make it just about time to stop to refuel and get out to stretch.
He told me that he grew up as an orphan in a facility near Pleasant Run Parkway. For several years he operated concessions at the Marion County and the Indiana State fairs. I learned that he took all his day-old baked goods to the orphanage. I went with him several times.
Good memories are special.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.