Recollections of Brior Auto Parts: part 1

By Carter E. Anthony

Brior Auto Parts in the 60s

In Oct., 1962, I reached age 18.  In those days at age 18 one had to sign up for the draft.  A few days after my birthday, I checked out of school to go downtown to the Selective Service Board office.

As I checked out, sweet Mrs. Newton asked if I was going to sign up for the draft. How did she know?

As long as she served as the school secretary I guess she saw a steady stream of boys checking out around their 18th birthdays to sign up for the draft.

The late Lewis Mathews’ birthday was on the 22nd, mine was on the 23rd and Richard Saunders’ birthday was on the 24th.  Why we didn’t go together I don’t know.

I drove downtown and parked near the Post Office. The Selective Service Board’s office was upstairs. It seemed that a “Selective Service Board” would be a federal agency board however I was surprised to see all Greenville businessmen in the board’s picture.

It was a local board. Mrs. Burt was the secretary.  She smiled, welcomed me into her office and handed me the forms to complete. It didn’t take long and I was soon signed up for the U. S. Military draft.

As I came back downstairs and started across the Post Office floor I spoke to Mr. Noe who was leaning on the Post Office counter.  He asked, “Been to sign up?”  “Yes sir.”  “Everything okay, fill out the forms?”  “Yes sir.” “You’ll make a good one.”  Thank you, sir.”

First time I had thought about being a “good one”.  Mr. Noe was a fine man, a fun man, and a man of few words.  At that very moment, October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis was occurring.

As I walked back up to the front door of the high school I thought to myself, “I’ve applied to the University of Alabama to begin my college career in September 1963.

However, after six months of basic training after graduation I might be in the jungles of Cuba”.   Thankfully President John F. Kennedy backed Soviet Union Premier Khrushchev down and the missiles left our hemisphere.

The real reason for my excitement was having reached age 18 and my summer job at Brior Auto Parts was available.  Mr. John Orme, a close family friend and the owner of Brior, had asked me to work for Brior the previous summer but I wasn’t old enough to drive the delivery vehicles.

I had worked at George McCrory’s since age 14 and loved it but most of the time it was a one day per week job. Mr. John was hiring me to work 5 ½ days from 7:30 a. m. until 4:30 p.m. with some occasional overtime.

Mr. George paid $.60 per hour and Mr. John offered $.75 per hour and it was a full week with no time off.  My summer vacation was the first week of summer and from that time on it was fulltime work.

I’ve often laughed at my change in employers. Mr. George had the first retail establishment in downtown Greenville to be air conditioned. Being a mens’ and boys’ clothing store it needed to be air conditioned.

Mr. John, on the other hand had a huge box fan above the side door near the back of the store. In the summer months we opened the front door and reversed the fan so that it pulled fresh air through the front door all of the way to the back of the store.

In winter months the fan was reversed again so that it blew heat from the big pot-bellied stove that was underneath it at the side door. We still had to wear a jacket most of the winter.

Unlike a retail clothing store, an auto parts store didn’t really need to be air conditioned. However, in the summer the fan also pulled in dust from the street. It led to us younger boys being told on slow summer days to grab a rag and dust off the parts boxes.

I usually hurried to the brake and generator section because those boxes were larger and needed the least dusting as opposed to the hundreds of boxes of points and condensers where three or four would fit in your hand and there were hundreds.

In the summer of 1963, I was following in the footsteps of Harold (Louchee) Chambliss, a longtime good friend throughout our lifetimes. In high school, Louchee played an outstanding trumpet in the GHS band and had the 3-point line been in place in basketball with his corner jump shot he would have been the team’s leading scorer.

When Louchee worked there in the summer of 1962, he was a rising junior at The University of Alabama.  Louchee really enjoyed working at Brior and said he learned a great deal about business from Mr. John.

He also said that at the end of the summer he didn’t know any more about auto parts and fixing cars than he did when the summer started.  It was a good way to live at home and make some pretty good money (for that time) during the summer.

At Alabama Louchee majored in Advertising and later became an executive with Southern Living in Atlanta.

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