Drive down I-71, or any major highway, and you’ll pass by large modern automobile dealerships with massive lighting systems to show off their offerings. Drive by Smitty’s Car Lot in Greenfield, Ohio and you’ll see a simple string of white light bulbs somewhat illuminating Tom Smith’s front row autos.
When I was a kid growing up in Greenfield Tom’s father, Eddie, ran the lot and the lighting was the same simple string of white lights. It’s probably not the same string of wire and sockets but the look is the same.
I find this continuum to be comforting. It’s nice to see something that remains the same after so many years and so out of step with the rest of society. Last week my wife and I took a drive to sample this year’s Christmas light decorations. As we drove by Smitty’s I was taken back by the retroness of Tom’s Christmas display. Just like his father before him he had replace many of the white bulbs with red and green ones.
I mentioned this on Facebook and a friend of mine, Barb Price Hendricks, emailed me a photo of Eddie Smith standing in the doorway of his tar paper covered sales office, after dark, with those simple white light bulbs showing off a 1953 Desoto and a 1953 Plymouth. Since they’re sitting on the front line of his lot the best guess is the photo is from the mid-50s.
I bought my second automobile from Eddie Smith, a pea green 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne with a 283 V-8 engine and 3 on the column. That car got me to California and back several times and provided many years of solid transportation.
After thinking about it a little, Smitty’s Car Lot is in the running for Greenfield’s oldest continuous operating business. What do you think?