Amusing Incidents as they Come to Mind…
Kirby Hight, age 95, reminisces:
In 1960, we sold Dr. Amrien of Madison a Buick Coupe. He had it a couple of days. At 8:30AM, he came into the garage, white as a sheet. “Kirby, there is a rat in my car!”
I said, “Doctor, it is too early to drink!”.
“I mean it Kirby, you get that rat out of the car or I will never run it again!” he said. He explained that he was coming down Route 201 to Skowhegan and when he was at Clough’s Corner, a big rat jumped from the seat and ran across his arm, which was steering the car. He drove into the near field and jumped out. The rat ran up under the dash board.
Once we got the car to the dealership, we used a fire extinguisher under the dash and the rat ran from the dash between the head lining and the trunk. He made several runs from encouragement by the fire extinguisher. We took some welding rods and sharpened one end and tried to spear the rat. Finally, we got him between the head liner and the top, and we took the head liner down and killed the rat.
After the doctor came down from the hospital, we presented the rat to him on a platter. The rat was close to two feet long and fairly skinny. It was quite an exciting affair with three men in the trunk and four in the car trying to spear a rat.
We sent the bill to GMAC Insurance Company. They paid the bill, no argument, stating that this was the only case of a rat in a car since being in business for 60 years. I don’t know what Doc would have done if he hadn’t seen the rat dead… just think about it!
My father once drove his car next to the Hight showroom. Then he backed out at the same time Blynn Page backed out of the adjacent Amoco Station. Both cars collided. Blynn looked and so did my father. Neither said a word. Just saluted. The cars were close to a total loss.
The Skowhegan Fair was in August as usual. There were too many race horses for the available stables at the track. Father said that we could remedy that. In late afternoon, he took everything out of the garage that was in the way and bedded down six horses. It apparently worked out all right because one of the six was his own horse. It was a big mess to clean up, but that didn’t bother him a bit.
My father and I were going to Canaan to sell Harry Jewell a car. On the way, we picked up a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker kept his eye close to the ground and said, “I know you, you are Walter Hight. You sold me a shirt which was big enough for a 2 ½ year old heifer that was ready to calf.”
When the hitchhiker got out in Canaan, I asked Dad who that was and he said that he didn’t know. “Well he knew you.”
“Yes, a lot of people know me.”
Walter Hight was the first dealer in central Maine.
When Kirby was a boy, there was another car dealer in town. Bill Sybol was a Cadilllac dealer in town, across from the present Hight Chevrolet.
In the early 20s, the Model Ts wouldn’t run during the winter because the oil wouldn’t flow. So, the owners would jack up the cars at night and drain the oil out of them and put the oil on the woodstove at night to keep the oil warm. Then they’d add the warm oil in the morning and start the cars.
A woman from Anson bought a car and Walter had to teach her how to drive. She got in the car and drove right into a stone wall and knocked her tooth out. Walter took her to the dentist and had a gold tooth put in. Then she bought another car. But, she still hated to drive where there was traffic, so when she came to town, she would park just on the outskirts and call a taxi so that she could get her errands run.
During WWII, Walter bought as many used cars as he could find. But because of the war, there was no gas or tires to be had. So, Walter left the cars that he had purchased just where they sat and returned after the war and picked the cars up.
Walter’s wife, Helen, and Kirby’s wife, Grace, were down in the showroom one day. A customer came in with a baby. Grace and Helen asked the mother what she fed the baby. The mother said, “Anything that we have in the house, baked beans, bread.” Grace and Helen were shocked! A few years later, the “baby” came in, a huge strapping young man. Walter remembered that it was the baby who ate the beans.
One customer came back to the showroom complaining that the battery that Kirby had sold him didn’t work. So, Kirby offered him another battery, but the customer was mad and wanted to kill Kirby. He picked up a piece of wood and threatened Kirby. Fortunately, one of the mechanics came to the rescue bearing a tire iron.
Uncle Hugh Hight and Kirby went down to Boston to buy some used cars. Uncle Hugh had brought $15000 cash with him. They stayed in the hotel that night and Uncle Hugh put the cash in the pillowcase. Next morning, they left to go buy some cars, they forgot the cash! Uncle Hugh hurried back to the hotel and was relieved to see that the cash was still there.
Judge Merrill had one of the first radios in Skowhegan. They’d get together in the morning to see who could get the reception the farthest away. Radios were first put into cars in the late thirties.
In 1916, Walter Hight, Archie Weston, and two other men decided to go deer hunting up North at Trevor Howes place. Walter told Trevor to get four deer for them ahead of time. When they arrived on Friday, the four deer were hanging up. Then they hunted Saturday and shot four more deer, making the total eight. They put a deer on each mud guard and the remaining four in the back seat. It was some load for the Model T but it made it home.
Walter was a great decorator. One Christmas, he put a Buick on the roof of the dealership. I didn’t think it would hold, but it did. He put some long, heavy planks into “runners” and leaned them up against the roof and then drove the car up with the help of some ropes and pulleys. It was the sight of the town! People thought he was crazy, but it was a great ad.