"Hum, I feel like I could use a little resurrection
myself. A little fix to my frame, bring in my sides.
Breathe some new life into me.
Can I get an appointment with you 'cause my
wagon has really been draggin' . . . "
Jane's words brought some pleasant memories back to me from long ago.
This tale started way back before I was born.
My mom, her five sisters and one brother were born and raised in a little house in a typical residential area in a town in northern Illinois. In the first half of the 1900s there were no big malls or even anything resembling a strip mall or big box store anywhere to be seen. Privately owned and operated businesses were interspersed right within the residential neighborhood. Often there was a small grocery store (the only one the people in the surrounding houses ever used) on the corner of the block. The neighborhood in which I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s had a funeral home across the street from us, a grocery store one house down and a store that sold wallpaper and house paints in the next block.
So it wasn't at all unusual for my mom's family to live next door to Harker's Body Shop when she and her siblings were growing up.
Uncle Frank, the only male child of the seven siblings, was first-born in the family and used to complain mightily about being the only boy among six sisters. The family wasn't well to do financially so Uncle Frank went to work sweeping floors (literally) at Harker's Body Shop when he was thirteen.
Harker's at that time was a small establishment and did a little of everything having to do with vehicles. They did mechanical work and sold tires along with doing all types of body work including repainting cars. A one-stop service store for your car.
Being a very willing, hard worker, Uncle Frank slowly worked his way up in the business (he never worked anywhere else) and eventually ended up owning Harker's which had grown substantially into a much larger establishment that specialized in vehicle restoration. He chose to not change the name of the business so it was always Harker's Body Shop.
So, in a way, Harker's was a very real part of my close-knit, extended family when I was growing up. (I have to admit it caused a bit of jealousy when I became a teenager and got my driver's license because the only car available to me -- on not very frequent occasions, I might add -- was our family's 1956 Chevy. Uncle Frank's two kids, a boy my age and a girl a couple of years younger, had sole access to their own snazzy cars. [Can you say Jaguar or MG?] Uncle Frank would take cars in as a total wrecks and then painstakingly restore whichever one his kids wanted to have as their own. Me? Envious? Nah, what makes you ask?)
Anyway, whenever anyone in the family (usually my mom or one of her sisters) would have any kind of an ailment, they would say, "Somebody call Harker's and make an appointment for me to get in for a tune-up." Or if one of my aunts was seen walking across the floor with a hitch in her get-a-long, someone was sure to comment, "Looks like you'd better get in to Harker's for some realignment."
I can remember my youngest aunt sitting at our kitchen table after giving birth to her fifth child, laying her head down on crossed arms and saying, "Call Harker's for me. I'm sure my valves are stuck."
One of the times my mom came up here to Minnesota for a visit, she was sweeping the kitchen floor and collecting the debris in a metal dustpan. I heard her say, "Uh-oh!" I asked what the problem was and she said, "I think I'd better take this dustpan home with me and get it into Harker's." I was puzzled so asked why and she replied (Mom was a hefty gal), "'Cause I just stepped on it."
Silly little memories, I know, but when Jane alluded to needing some body work done (which I know for a fact she is NOT in need of) and maybe a tune-up, it brought back these memories.
I don't even know if Uncle Frank's business exists anymore. Probably not. Uncle Frank, my mom and all of her sisters are gone now, too. But back in the day, our family sure got a lot of nonsensical mileage out of Harker's Body Shop.