As I Remember Decker Hatch – Part 2

Inside of Franklin’s shop, 1959.

Franklin’s Dad, Decker, would show up in the shop from time to time for a small repair or advice. No advice was asked from me. In fact, I wasn’t even acknowledged! I was the young “whippersnapper” that didn’t know anything. So I just went about my work, but eavesdropped.

Of all the silent encounters, this one took the cake. One day, just before noon, Decker came in and confronted Frank with his problem. He had a flat tire on his 1946 Chevy Truck. He wanted to take a tire off his Ford model AA yard truck and put it on the Chevy.

Well, I being a motor head, and having worked at the Seaview Garage for two years, knew it couldn’t be done. I decided to offer my two cents, so I spoke up and said, “Mr Hatch . . . ”

Well, without looking at me, Decker said, “My friends call me Decker!”

So I came back with, “Decker, the wheels won’t interchange. The Model A Ford wheel is five lug, and the Chevy is eight lug.”

Well, . . . silence. Then he asked Frank if he would take the wheels up to the Trading Post and swap tires on the rims.

Little did I know then, the Chevy tire was showing canvas and all the Ford tires were bald.

So, once again I butted in and told Decker that the tires were different sizes and wouldn’t interchange either.

Well, there was silence and no comments. Out the door Decker went!

Lunch time came, and I headed out to the Trading Post for a burger. As I stopped at Union Street, I took a look down the drive to the mill and there were the two trucks jacked up in front, with wheels leaning against them. Decker and his workmen were home for lunch, so I drove down and took a look. It was sad — two trucks, twelve bald tires, one or two showing canvas! There were no tires streetworthy, and nothing interchangeable.

The road truck
The yard truck

After  lunch, I asked Roger, the Trading Post mechanic, about the tire guy that sold used tires. I gave Roger the size for the Chevy. He said he would call and get a price.

Back to work I went. Decker showed up after lunchtime to discuss his situation with Franklin. Frank relayed my info to Decker. He asked Frank how to get the truck to Roger’s for new tires? Frank looked at me and hesitated. I took the hint and told Decker to remove one of the dual rear wheels and put it up front. I’m sure Decker or his workers knew that, but it was not mentioned.

The next day at lunch, there was Decker’s Chevy truck on the lift, being fitted with a set of used, driveable tires!

The next time Decker came in the shop, he did speak to me, but not by name. Oh well, all in a day’s work with “Swamp Yankees.”

by Ray Freden, Marshfield, 70 years.

“Knowledge and timber shouldn’t be used until they are seasoned.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Next: Part 3 — Decker was a hard worker.

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