By Bill Rush.
RUSHVILLE Norm Voiles reminds me a lot of my father. Both are or were quite the gentlemen. Dad and Norm always out in public wear a tie, and Dad always had a vest. Both tend to wear hats of varying types. Dad went for the Stetson or Dobbs felt hat, usually because Stevens Brothers Clothing Store carried them and Dad knew Walter Stevens well. Even when Dad retired he came in to the plant every other day to remind me what I was doing wrong and he wore a coat and usually a tie. And he never weighed more than 135 pounds during my lifetime.
Both these gentlemen wear clothes well; me, I am slovenly no matter what I wear. Dad and Norm both were slight of build and the clothes fit them well, and both (I am sure) purchased the best available. During Dad's lifetime and NormÕs era men wore much more suitable attire than today. It was not even thought of to not wear a coat, tie and hat when going out on the town.
Dad sold cars (Pontiacs) and radios (Philco) and even when he would work on a car or install a television he wore a vest and tie. I remember being on the roof of a home putting up an antenna for their television, Dad with his tie and vest and me in jeans and a T-shirt.
Every week or even at times more frequently Dad washed the windows of his shop on Third Street. I remember one time he was smoking a huge cigar and had happily soaped up the windows of the shop. He took out his squeegee and swiped it over the window only to look into the face of my paternal grandfather. My non-smoking teetotaler grandfather. I could not help but laugh at Dad as he looked right into Grandpa's eyes; the cigar drooped then dropped to the ground and Dad panicked! I had never seen him panic before and was completely amazed. Grandpa didn't say anything, at least while I was around. That was the first time I ever saw my father flustered and confused, but that he was.
On Wednesdays Dad would go to Indianapolis for parts, checking on used cars and looking around to see what was new and interesting. During the summer I got to go with him and this was, in my opinion, the best of everything.
We went to the Toddle House for breakfast. I loved their hash browns. They sprinkled paprika on them before they fried them and I loved it. For lunch it was White Castle. (As you may have noticed, Dad was a big spender!)
Usually, somewhere along the line one of Dad's suppliers would take pity on me and I would get something to take with me. Usually, it was a flashlight or some such small item. I loved Dad's suppliers.
Right after the war Dad hustled to find any car to sell. He was on allocation from Pontiac because at this time none of the car companies could make the cars fast enough for the demand. If you wanted a car you ordered it and waited for as much as six or eight months to get it. Each car was what you, the customer, wanted - not what the dealer or manufacturer wanted you to buy. You went to the dealer, picked out the color scheme, interior, accessories you wanted and then waited. So many felt their cars needed to be replaced after the war the demand was huge.
Dad not only sold Pontiacs but Willys Jeeps (if he could find them) and Crosleys too. I personally loved (and still do) the Crosley. It was a small car, extremely cheap (and looked it), and fun as all get out to drive and play with and in. Mom hated them but I loved them. A gentleman here in Milroy has one he has refurbished and offered to let me take it for a drive and I fully intend to take him up on that. My sister-in-law borrowed it for the Milroy parade a couple of years ago because she had one of those when she was in high school. My wife told me many times of them going to school and having so many in the car they would have to push it up the hill going into town. Boy, I love those little cars! Think I liked them so much because they were close to my size at the time.
I miss Dad and enjoy Norm's company and would therefore guess I am indeed getting older and really thinking of the good old days. I like to do that and to remember the good times and forget the bad. I learned a lot for my future life from Dad and his friends and only hope my children and grandchildren feel the same about me.