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 North Manchester, Indiana

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Leedy Motor Co.

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Source: Aurora (1925) Ad:

OUR AIM is to operate the "Big Brick Garage" on Mill Street in such a way as to make it a real asset to the people of this community.
OUR SHOP is being equipped with modern shop equipment which means efficiency. Only skilled mechanics are employed. Bring in your car for that overhaul.
OUR WRECKING CAR is at your service day or night. When the unexpected happens and you must have help, call Eel River Phone number 45.
OUR SALESROOM is stocked with the best merchandise available in its line. A few items are:
Chevrolet Automobiles
Firestone Gum-Dipped Cords and Balloons
Veedol Motor Oils and Greases
Atwater-Kent Radios
Electric Supplies and Fixtures
Phone 45      Chevrolet Sales and Service

 for Economical Transportation

Harry E. Leedy of the Leedy Motor Company is one of our college and Aurora boosters. His place of business is the most modern one of its kind in the city. He has a beautiful, modern salesroom and when it is dotted with new Chevrolets, including Landaus, Coupes, and Sedans, it is still more attractive.

One has only to observe the large percentage of Chevrolets in North Manchester's car population to realize the volume of business done by the Leedy Motor Company during its short career in this city.

The mechanics at Leedy's are automobile experts and when your car is repaired by them you have the satisfaction that accompanies perfect workmanship.

Besides Chevrolet Cars, Mr. Leedy sells Day Fan Radios and all kinds of auto repairs.
For his help we are grateful.

Source: Ravelings (1942) Ad:

Phone 45    Open Day and Night
Wheel Aligning     Wheel Straightening
Wheel Balancing      G.E. Fast Battery Charging
Body and Fender Work
"Insured Lubrication"

Source: NMHS Newsletter August 1987

105 North Mill Street

The building that was occupied by the Leedy Garage was built by the Knull Motor Company, Inc. in 1919.  This company formed by people in Fort Wayne and North Manchester, had businesses in Fort Wayne and in Pierceton.  They sold Reo cars and trucks and a few Chevrolets.  The Chevrolet cars were not very popular because the Ford Model T was still offering strong competition.  Karl Knull, president, was quite a promoter but not very successful as a businessman.  His brother, Franz Knull, was the sales manager.  The firm went into receivership in about 1924 with Karl leaving for California and Franz taking over the obligations.  At about that time, Harry Leedy purchased the building.
Harry and his brother, Homer, had lived in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, where they had been engaged in the electrical contracting business and also operated a Chandler automobile business.  While they still lived in Illinois, Homer had gone into military service.  When he returned from the war he was surprised to find that Harry had sold the business and moved to North Manchester.  Here they continued to work in the electrical business, but after Harry purchased the Knull property and had been granted a Chevrolet franchise, they set up separate businesses.  Homer continued in the electrical business.  They each brought their personal Chandler cars with them.  They were fine cars and the only ones that I ever saw.
Harry soon developed his business to cover the general repair of all makes and models of automobiles and to provide storage space for some of the cars owned by people who lived in town.
The repair shop was upstairs in the building and that created quite a problem in getting disabled cars up and down a steep ramp between the first and second floors.  The damage caused by the ramp sometimes exceeded the benefits of the work done in the repair shop.  In 1930, Harry changed all this and located the repair shop on the first floor.  The storage area was on that floor too.  I was always interested in the cars that were stored because of their variety and the individuals who owned them.
Gene Oppenheim had a Packard Sport Sedan.  It was red and a real snappy automobile.  Each fall we would load it on a railroad boxcar and ship it to Florida.  He would not drive it that far.  He would ship it back each spring.
Ben Oppenheim was more conservative.  He was not much interested in automobiles, but he had a Packard Sedan and did not seem much interested in driving it.  Mannie Leffel, who worked in the Oppenheim store, was his chauffeur when Ben went to Fort Wayne and other places out of town.
Isaac Oppenheim, not to be outdone, owned a Cadillac.  His chauffeur was Louie Conner, the town taxi driver.
John Snyder, who lived on South Maple Street and owned a cabinet factory in Huntington, drove a Pierce Arrow.  I always admired that car.  It was a beauty.
Josh Billings, the newspaper editor, had an Apperson Jackrabbit, the only one I have ever seen.  Actually, I never saw him drive it.  It was a top-heavy thing and when Josh would get it out on the road with a high crown, he would frequently upset the thing.  It was not one of the best cars in town.
Worth Walrod had a Hupmobile Sport Coupe and that was a fine car.
Max Drefkoff drove a Peugeot.  He owned the Syracuse Cabinet Factory on South Wabash Street.  Max was a Russian Jew and an outstanding individual.  I recall that he had trouble turning his head because of arthritis.  He would scare me to death by remarking that he could not see behind the car in backing up and then, back he would go like a shot!  During World War II he served in some official capacity in Washington, D. C.
The large, well-equipped repair shop was the main source of income.  I started keeping books for Harry in 1928.  It was sort of by accident, having come to town to install a set of General Motors accounting books that were new to the dealership.  Walter Boyer had been keeping books, but he had just been elected to the office of Town Clerk.  I told Mr. Leedy that I would keep the books until he could find some other person to do the job, and so I was with him for fifteen years. 
The annual sales during the period from 1928 to about 1930 were something like 150 new cars and trucks and about 600 used cars.  Today that would hardly be a month’s work.  A new Chevrolet cost about $600 and a Buick about $1,000.  Of course, the price depended on the way the car was equipped – a trunk on the back, bumpers front and rear, a spare tire, a rearview mirror, and a windshield wiper.
Mr. Leedy expanded into the bulk gasoline and oil business mostly to meet the competition of the Wilcox brothers who came to town and offered to sell six to seven gallons of gas for $1.00.  Harry’s brother, Elda Leedy, was manager of this business and the drivers who served the farm and the heating trade were Otto Perry, Lloyd McFarland, and Artie Lowman.
In those days cars were not brought to town on big trucks.  The dealer had to send or take drivers to Flint, Michigan, to drive them home.  Harry had a regular crew of boys, mostly from Liberty Mills, that he would load into his Chandler Sport Sedan and drive them to Flint.  He was particular about this car and no one else could drive it.  The Morrisey boys and others drove the new cars home and in all that time that I worked there, I cannot recall that they ever put a scratch on any of those cars.
Individuals who worked in the sales department were:  F. S. Knull, Sales Manager, a very efficient operator and to my knowledge, a man who never mistreated a customer; George Winesburg, a professional salesman; Paul Park; Melvin Heeter; Walter Metzger, well known as a good salesman for many years; Dean Hill of Silver Lake; Floyd Carver of Roann; and Clair Snodgrass of Pierceton.  In the office, in addition to myself, were:  Margaret Little, Norma Deck, Irene Leedy, and Donna Mae Jerew.  Those in the repair department were:  Vinson Stuckey, senior mechanic; Rudy Stuckey, brother of Vinson; Robert Floyd, whose son now operates a service station in town; Roy Nichols, and paint man; Russell Kreamer, in charge of used car repairs; and Lamoine Enyeart.  Those in the repair department later included:  Paul Hostetler, Service Manager; Vern Hostetler, his brother; Bill Weesner; Art Morrisey, Harold Tyner; Lloyd Bolan, frame alignment; and Arden Carter, who established a dealership in Wabash.  Homer Leedy was in charge of the parts department.
The lack of new cars, tire rationing, and the mechanics going to the armed services and to Baer Field during World War II, put an end to the agency and the garage.  There was almost nothing left to be done.
In 1943 the building was leased to the Bryan Manufacturing Company which has since become United Technologies.
Harry Leedy retired to his farm near Bippus and that ended my very interesting career with the Leedy Motor Company.
[Note:  Howard C. Warren, age 83, lives on his farm about a mile west of Liberty Mills, Indiana.]