Gordie Hart’s Truck & Bus Sales
Last month Herb and Doris Eddy donated an interesting photo album to the Chester Historical Society. At one time the Eddys owned and operated what today is Lisai’s Market. They also owned the large apartment house across the street from the store. It was in the apartment house that they found the photo album.
When I was a kid, Earl Horton ran a radio repair shop in what is now the apartment house. At that same time Gordie Hart ran a truck sales and service in the rear of that building. Hart sold trucks and busses at this location for many years. Not knowing much about Hart’s operation, I went to see Ted Spaulding. Below is some of what I learned.
Gordie Hart came to Chester from Rochester, Vermont, in the early 1930s. It was said he arrived in a 1928 Chevy with everything he owned. Hart had been a mechanic in Rochester and was to apply that trade in Chester.
He began selling trucks and busses across from Lisai’s in the 1930s. In the beginning he sold International vehicles. Eventually International wanted Hart to build a showroom. Hart wanted no part of a showroom and switched to a GMC dealership.
In the 1940s the pulp business really picked up in this area. Many men in the area bought new log trucks from Hart. He would retrofit the new log trucks with an extra set of rear wheels to accommodate heavier loads. He had a reputation as an honest man and the best mechanic in the area.
The Town of Chester bought their trucks and busses from Hart. Hart had a contract with the town to drive school bus. Well, he had a verbal contract, it seems. Gordie wouldn’t sign a contract with the town. Below is a humorous story Ted told me:
Gordie had picked up the high school students at the end of the school day. He got as far as down by the old grist mill when he realized he didn’t have all of the students onboard. He stopped to count the kids and noticed one boy was missing. Hart was told by one of the students that the boy had detention.
Hart turned the bus around and headed straight for town hall. He parked the bus crossways in front of town hall and went in to read state regulations in regard to kids who rode the bus and detention. Learning that students taking the bus couldn’t be detained he headed straight for the high school to pay a visit to the principal.
Gordie marched into the high school and found the principal. After setting the principal straight Hart said, “You better crawl back in your rat hole, you big hunk of cheese!”
Gordie had a reputation for speaking his mind, but he didn’t swear.
Here’s another story Ted told me. One day Gordie saw one of the selectmen and took the opportunity to tell him just what he thought, saying, “Ya know, I think a lot of you, yer a nice fella, but you’ve straddl’d the fence so long that your crotch is gittin’ highyer and highyer and highyer so that it’ll reach your heart, and you will die!”
One day when a customer was looking over one of Hart’s new GMC trucks, he proclaimed, “They gut the power. They’ll dig right int’a the ledge without spinnin’ a wheel.”
Another example of Gordie’s character is this story told to me by Ted. Ted’s father, Ed Spaulding, had been leasing the town farm from the town. The town decided to sell the property at public auction. Ed decided he wanted to buy the town farm and attended the auction. Ed figured on $8500 to purchase the property. The first bid was well below the $8500 figure but rapidly rose in price as the bidding continued.
Soon Ed reached his limit and placed his $8500 bid but another bidder went higher. Ed started walking away. As he walked away he heard, “Sold, $9000.” Then Gordie hollered, “Ed, you’ve got to come sign some papers.” Gordie wanted Ed to have the property.
The photo with this article is from Hart’s album and will be in the monthly slideshow.
The 2018 Chester Historical Society calendars are now for sale for $10 at: Stone House Antiques Center, Chester Hardware, The Framery of Vermont, Chester Town Hall, Phoenix Misty Valley Books, Salon 2000, Lisai’s Market and Erskine’s Feed Store.
This week’s old saying refers to whether an outcome was good or bad: “It all depends on whose ox is getting gored. “