By Carter E. Anthony
The longest tenured employee was Bill Cassidy from Fort Deposit. Bill was a big robust guy, red-headed, and a great salesman. He traveled outside Greenville to the independent service stations and auto repair shops in Butler, Lowndes and Wilcox counties.
On Monday and Tuesday nights, he and Mr. John filled Bill’s orders and he was back on the road Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A couple of Monday and Tuesday nights I was more than happy to help them with a little overtime pay added. I actually felt honored to be asked.
On Saturday mornings Bill came in to work. One Saturday in the fall, Bill came in but had plans to leave early for a quail hunt. He shot quail all morning in the store over the counter, shouting to Judge “Bird, bird”, “Close, close”, “Bird in here”, that led us to believe Bill might have started the hunting party the night before.
William Kelly was the second most tenured. William knew auto parts like the back of his hand and he knew every dealership parts manager and mechanic personally. It was also obvious that William had begun his career in the shop because he was often asked to pitch in with difficult shop problems.
He was the go-to guy for any and all parts questions for the rest of the guys working the counter. He also went to the occasional seminar held by NAPA or another distributor to learn about new auto parts and processes.
Sometime later William left and bought Jack Stevens’ radiator repair service. Knowing William, I’m sure he improved everything about Jack’s service and made a good living from it.
Leonard Waring was a fine young man in his 30s who drove from Camden every day to run the Brior Auto Parts shop. Leonard was not often seen in the front of the store because of the shop work but he knew auto parts and the parts business about as well as anyone.
He also attended some of the seminars. Leonard and his wife had just had a baby. He was always in early but at 4:30 p.m. he was out the door headed to Camden to see the new addition to the family.
Oliver Black, another 30-something, was the newest of the fulltime staff. He drove from Georgiana every day and occasionally delivered parts back to shops in Georgiana that Bill might have somehow missed. Oliver was quietly learning the job.
During my second summer there, Foster McGough came to work at Brior. Foster had worked in another parts house and knew the business well. I’m not sure about Foster’s prior work but when he answered the phone he could be heard across the street. He said he was proud to be working for Brior Auto Parts and it sounded like it.
In my third summer at Brior, Doyle Bender came to work for Brior Auto Parts. Doyle was good at everything he did there, which included shop work, too. I remembered Doyle as a really tough running back on the GHS football team and a good catcher on the baseball team.
The summer help included Mr. John’s son, Johnny, and me. My primary job was to run the card desk and deliver parts. If I had the time, I could learn the parts catalog and wait on customers.
The card desk was a wooden rectangle with five-inch deep sections divided by parts categories. The sections held 5”x7” cards for each part in the store and were lined for inventory levels. Every ticket that was run on a sale went through the card desk to maintain inventory levels.
It was my job to keep up and run those tickets all day long and to flag the cards that represented parts sold. After lunch, Mr. John would look at the cards that had been flagged and promptly at 2 p. m. he would re-order from NAPA in Birmingham to restore the inventory.
The next day at about 1 p.m. those parts would be delivered to the side door and Johnny and I would re-stock the shelves. It’s not hard to imagine how much more efficient computers have made the process.
As needed, Mr. John ordered oxygen and acetylene tanks from National Air. They were large green cylinders about five feet tall and 10” in diameter. They weighed 60 or 70 pounds each and were unloaded on the sidewalk outside the back door.
I suspect my lifting them and placing them in their rack inside caused my older age back problems. There was a two-wheel hand truck just inside the door, but it was too slow for a college kid.