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Hard times, good times

Posted: December 9, 2011 - 9:29am

Way back in 1948, I spent my whole summer vacation helping build a roller skating rink in a neighboring town. I saved enough to buy a beautiful 1929 Ford Coupe with a Rumble seat. After a while, it started missing a little so a friend and I took it to a one man, one car repair shop. The mechanic listened to it, told me to shut the key off and he removed the distributor cap and said the points were pretty well pitted but maybe by filing it a little bit we might not have to replace them. It ran great and he charged me 75 cents.

A couple years ago I purchased a late model car which did not have an engine heater on it. It started good through 2 cold winters. I decided to put a freeze plug heater on it so my wife could hit the switch in the apartment and warm it up a little before she went out. I stopped at a service station to get an estimate and with a smile was told that the part would cost about $60 and the labor would be $100 an hour to install. I was speechless. I decided to call around and came up with the $90 to $100 dollar labor rate. One even said that I should check the high prices being charged Outside.

I made a call outside to a reputable service station owner, my brother. He has lived outside the town Of Osage, Iowa all his life except for spending the full Normandy invasion in England. When he retired, he had owned and operated a 3 bay station for 40 years, owning a smaller one before the company built the new one. At 88 and an almost new car, he told me that he had not been out having any work done, but his son was there and his statements were that the service stations and repair shops were charging in the $40 to $50 dollar range and the dealers in the $50 to $60 dollar range.

With half the people on Social Security their average income is around $800 with no increase for 2 years and mine figures out to be $49 dollars a "month" while the new charges of the car mechanics raises their hourly rate nearly the same as my monthly increase.

My wife and I having worked with low income housing know that the majority of the low income people will not be able to keep their automobiles. With the local dealers charging $100 dollars or more for labor, and the other mechanics charging $100 dollars an hour, my personal opinion is this is one of the ugliest showing of greed that has happened in my lifetime. I have known respectable mechanics in this community, but we are in a depression with groceries having increased about 20 percent in the last 2 years.

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