|July 1925 - December 1970|
|Gus Wilson's Model Garage|
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Life & Times - Page 86
The Life and Times of Gus Wilson
Things were different in the old days,
but the spirit of the Model Garage is timeless.
By Frank Rowsome Jr.
If GUS WILSON should die-a wildly improbable event- a social historian could compile his complete biography. While he lives, the only solid information about the man are some 355 stories. These provide a mass of data, but they are also shot through with tantalizing gaps. How old is Gus? Whatever became of Joe Clark, co-owner of the Model Garage? Many similar questions arise that cannot be answered positively. Careful analysis, however, of the works of Martin Bunn, Wilson's Boswell, does provide some biographical data:
Silent Cal was president then, the Scopes trial and the Florida land boom were in full flower, Rose Marie and the Gorilla were packing the theaters, and a coal black Model T runabout could be purchased new for $260, starter extra.
A single sentence announces our hero: "Wilson was the mechanic of the firm, a gray haired veteran of the automobile repair shop, who had been working on automobiles since the days when they were called 'horseless carriages.' " His first recorded customer was a Mr. Stevens, a bankerish man who, emerging from a sedan, announced that he was going on a long tour and thought "it might be well to have Wilson look the car over." Gus pronounced the sedan in good shape (one license plate rattled) and then delivered a long lecture on maintenance. Mr. Stevens, taking notes during the harangue, drove off pleased.
Early days. The Model Garage was a wooden structure, evidently converted from a barn or livery stable. While it had a crank-operated pump outside, there was also a wheeled portable tank to fill customer's cars. Joe Clark, partner and bookkeeper, tended the stock room and office and sold gas. Twice the pimply youth appeared, was identified as "Bill, the kid who did odd jobs," and then disappeared (continued)