In 1974, when I was 14 years old, my grandfather owned a Chrysler/Plymouth (yes, Plymouth)/Dodge dealership in Hampshire, Illinois - a small farming community northwest of Chicago. Along with the dealership we had a Texaco gas station, a complete automotive repair facility including paint booth, and a used car business all on the same lot. My grandparents lived in what would now be considered a mixed use building - they lived upstairs of the dealership in a very large apartment. It was the family business, my Uncle John was effectively the operations manager and head sales person, sharing duties with my grandfather.
I used to spend my summers in Hampshire and would help where I could with the gas station - pump gas, check oil, wash windows, etc.
During the summers, the shop would hire students - usually teenage boys - to clean and detail the cars, rotate the used cars, change tires, etc.
In the summer of 1974, my Uncle John hired Bill, 16-year old to work at the shop. Bill happened to have a baby blue 1965 Mustang convertible.
One morning, when things were slow, Bill offered to drive me around Hampshire in his convertible Mustang. I said yes, so off we went. We literally went around a couple of blocks in Hanpshire while he showed me the features of his car.
10 minutes later, he dropped me off at the front of the business, parked his car and went back to do some work. I went back to enjoying my summer day and thought nothing more of it.
Twelve noon in Hampshire is announced by a big air raid-like siren - traditionally blown to notify the farmers in the fields that it was lunch time. My grandmother would have lunch ready by 12:00, my grandfather and uncle would be upstairs and eating by 12:15, usually sandwiches, salad, chips etc.
As we were eating lunch after my morning convertible ride, Uncle John announced that he had fired Bill. I asked why and he wouldn't give me an answer. As a spirited 14 year old, I continued to enquire, getting more upset with every non-response. I asked whether it had to do with the ride, he wouldn't answer. He just smiled and ate his sandwich.
I never did get to see Bill again and to this day, my Uncle John will not tell me why he fired him.
My Uncle John is now the sole owner and proprietor of Fenzel Motors which celebrated its 71st anniversary in November of 2013. The Texaco gas station is gone, so is the Plymouth brand, but the dealership picked up Jeep about 15 years ago.
And while older Mustangs are interesting and I have friends who own the classics, I remain a diehard Mopar owner with a 1973 Dodge Challenger, a 1978 Jeep CJ7, a 2000 Plymouth Prowler, and a 2012 Dodge RAM in my garage.
Thanks for letting me tell my story. Anne Brinkman