Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gene to Tinker

One day a few years ago, in a statement of independence, I took apart my broken iron, thinking I would somehow figure out the problem and have it back together in no time. Having no knowledge of irons or anything electric, I am not sure why I thought I could fix it, but I decided to try. Unfortunately, I had no clue what to do with it once I got it apart, consequently, when my husband got home from work, he discovered the iron on the kitchen counter, surrounded by all of its insides. After a few more failed attempts at repairing things, I realized that I definitely did not inherit the gene to fix and repair anything.

Back in the 1940's when gas was well under 20 cents a gallon and it was possible to buy a car for under $1,000.00, my Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus worked as an auto mechanic at the Chevrolet Garage in LaJara, Colorado. 


This is where Grandpa Ganus worked as an auto mechanic in LaJara, Colorado 
This photo taken on our visit several years ago shows it is not in great shape and is for sale.



Mechanics in those days often relied on experience as their teacher, and for many, that experience came from working on farm equipment. Prior to being a mechanic, Grandpa worked on a farm in Colorado and then on various projects with Heiselt Construction. Perhaps those jobs helped prepare him for work as a mechanic.

There were no diagnostic machines with codes to help mechanics determine the problem with a vehicle, so it was up to the mechanic to figure out on his own and then repair it. Mechanics had to be creative with the repairs, especially in remote areas because car parts were not readily available nor easy to find, so they made do with the tools they had and made parts from other cars.

The 1940 census confirms that my Grandpa, Heber Monroe Ganus was working as a mechanic in 1940.

1940 US Federal Census, Sanford, Conejos, Colorado 
A few years later when Grandpa registered for WWII in 1942, he indicated that he was working at the Phillips Chevrolet Co. 




Grandpa continued to work as a mechanic until health issues forced him to quit. 


Grandma recorded the following in her life history:
"It was while Heber was working in La Jara, as a mechanic in one of the garages that he became ill and found he could not work at this kind of a job. His brother, Ernest had come from Oklahoma on a visit. He talked Heber into going back with him in hopes he would feel better. This was in 1954, in the spring. 
 "In the following summer when school was out after graduating from Adams State, Lena, Sally and boys and myself drove to Oklahoma to Okmulgee where Heber was staying with his brother Ernest. We found him feeling better and he returned home with us, but he was put in the hospital the next day, in Alamosa. Doctor Stong who was his doctor told him never to come back to Colorado, as it was too high here for him." 
And so, Grandpa Ganus moved to Oklahoma to live with his brother Ernest. The following year Grandma taught school in Colorado and when school was over for the summer, she joined Grandpa in Oklahoma. The following school year, Grandma taught school in Oklahoma, but Grandpa never worked again. He may have tinkered with their car some, but his days as an auto mechanic were over. 


mechanic, Heber Monroe Ganus, Ganus, Okmulgee, ancestry, family history, health
Heber Monroe Ganus
Oklahoma

Just as vehicles have changed dramatically over the years, so have gas stations and the way vehicles are worked on and repaired. I may not have inherited the ability to repair much of anything, but I did inherit the love of family and a drive to know more.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

9 comments:

  1. My favorite image in this post is the one just above, showing Heber tinkering under the hood of a car. It's wonderful that you know the story of how and why Heber and his family had to leave Colorado.

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    1. Thank you Marian. Don't you wish we had that information for each of our ancestor's moves? I lucked out and Grandma recorded the why, but I'm seldom that lucky.

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  2. I enjoyed reading your interesting account of your grandfather Ganus. It’s interesting how the simplest present day activities can turn our hearts and mind to the past and our loved ones there. Your unsuccessful attempt to repair your broken iron took you back to your grandfather’s ability to fix a car and his life and times. I enjoy hearing the Colorado names I’ve learned to know and love, LaJara, Alamoso, Ganus and Heiselt. Thank you Michelle.

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    1. Thank you so much. I think my head is right there thinking about various ancestors much of the time.....and my kids will testify to that! ha ha

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  3. We don’t always know the reasons things happened in our ancestors lives. Why were your grandparents not living together? That would be a question you’d ask if they were enumerated separately in a census. In this case, you know what kept them apart. I expect it was difficult for Heber to no longer be able to work, especially if he enjoyed it.
    You may not have his mechanical talents, but I bet there are other traits he passed down that you don’t know about 😃

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    1. Such a good point Diane. In so many instances we would jump to conclusions because there is nothing recorded to help us understand why two people aren't living together.

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  4. My grandpa was an auto mechanic too! I also found him in the 1940 federal census working as a mechanic. This was in Los Angeles, California. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Jana. That is awesome that your grandpa was also an auto mechanic. I wish I had inherited some of his tools. I'm not sure who ended up with them.

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  5. A wonderful family trait: tinkering! I have a line of mechanics in my family too & photos of my father repairing car & truck engines. You have great tales to share!

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