As we grow older we like things to stay the same, yet they seldom do. It’s sad because I like the thought that there’s always time: time to take our spouses, kids or grand kids to a location and make the proclamation…“Here it is! This is where I made my mark! This was a big part of my journey!” There’s not always that guarantee of time. It can slip away quite unexpectedly.
On Sunday, January 21,2018, the Trinity Auto Body Shop at 2402 E. Washington Street was engulfed in flames and was destroyed. This one hurt. A large part of my past life was also destroyed on that morning. It had been my father’s body shop. And for me, it became my awakening of adult responsibilities and the working world.
My father bought the building in the 1960s. It had been a laundromat. In its new incarnation it became—Hinton’s Body Shop. The building was his first major purchase, becoming a bedrock of income to support our family and a location for him to pursue his love of repairing automobiles. For 25 years he made the daily drive to His business. He took pride in what he did and the reputation he garnered. And in time, he brought his long haired, rebellious son (me) to share in the endeavor. I worked there on and off as a teenager, and then after returning from Oregon in 1983, worked there again. My father thought he was passing down a trade, however it wasn’t to be. Yet, the skills I grudgingly learned are essentially responsible for what I do today. Working for your father is never easy, yet I still carry fond memories.
The Shop became a meet up place—a social gathering—for not only my father’s friends, but also my own. It was a building where I gained girlfriends from the neighborhood, and just as quickly lost them. During the Blizzard of 1978 I lived in an apartment above the Catalina Bar down the street and remember walking down the center of an abandoned Washington Street to work, discovering my father had somehow made it in; he would not close his business for even the worst event of the decade! His upstairs office served as my home for a week when I was in between apartments. This office also became my daily refuge when eating my White Castle lunches. What I’m trying to say is—the building and I had history!
The fire was reported at 5:15 am. The Indianapolis Fire Department responded, utilizing 17 trucks for four hours and thousands of gallons of water. Water at the street intersection alone stood a foot deep. Structurally it was no longer safe to go inside, so IFD allowed the flames to burn through the roof so ladder trucks could get the water inside. Sewer drains clogged with debris and electricity was out for most of the neighborhood. In the end, the shop (and my past history) was gutted, destroying equipment, seven vehicles inside, and a bass-boat. Much like many of the cars we once worked on, it was totaled; and so was a large chunk of my and my father’s past!
Ghosts? Yes there are. Ghosts of memories of a time long ago, but seemingly only yesterday. Ghosts of when I was younger, with a future still faint and distant. Ghosts of when my father was still alive, and of a building that became his livelihood and source of pride and joy. Ghosts I will entertain and will remember!