During my high school years my dad operated a Sunoco service station on Madison Avenue just north of Epler Avenue. We did maintenance and repair jobs for our customers.
One of the things that I remember was the amount of flat tires that we fixed. It wasn’t unusual to have six or eight tires piled up to be repaired. This was during the time when tubed tires were being modified to tubeless. I remember spending hours using our tire-mounting tools to repair tubeless and tube-type flat tires.
The truck I saw was operated by a distributor for Tech Tire Repairs, which carried the same products that we used to fix our flats. A distributor called on us and kept our supply cabinet stocked. As soon as I noticed that truck my mind was flooded with memories. I suspect I smiled all the way home.
Another one of our vendors (also a neighbor) was Joe Langley, who for many years was a chief mechanic for several Indianapolis 500 race teams. He worked on race cars and built the engines in a shop behind his home on Madison Avenue. It was neat to drive down Madison and hear a powerful Offenhauser engine being revved up in Joe’s back yard.
A few years after retiring from his chief mechanic position, he went to work for the DA Lubricant Co. as a sales rep. He would stop at our station to promote products and visit. I have to tell you that it was sometimes a little intimidating to have a former Indy 500 chief mechanic looking over your shoulder as you completed repairs on a customer’s car.
We had many great suppliers and customers. One of our good friends and customers was Maj. Gen Jack Elrod, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard.
Sometimes when he stopped by, we played a game where the loser was required to buy cold soft drinks for all the players. Jack would pick one person to be known as player No. 1. We then loudly counted eins (one), zwei (two), drei (three), horsengoggle and held out one to five fingers on one hand. We added up all the fingers, and starting with the No. 1 player, we counted clockwise until that number was reached ... that person lost.
The loser had to buy the soft drinks, which was a big deal because they cost 10 cents each.
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.