Small Town History, My Uncle’s Tire Shop

Lingafelter’s Tire Shop in 1921

My uncle by marriage, Eldon Leroy “Bud” Lingafelter, owned and operated Lingafelter’s Tire Shop in Aledo, Illinois, a small burg (pop. 3700) in western Illinois, about 15 miles east of the mighty Mississippi river. The tire shop was started by Bud’s father, Roy.The quality of this photograph, taken in 1921, indicates that a pro took the photo, probably Ernest T. Carlson who owned the Carlson Studio in Aledo.

Of interest in this photo is the manual jack on the left, and the lack of any power machinery for mounting new tires.

When I worked in the shop on my worn out cars in the mid ‘60s, the equipment was different, but the two windows on the north wall and the skylight were still there.


Lingafelter’s Tire Shop in 1939

My uncle, on the right, was a staunch Chrysler man. He is sitting on the bumper of his 1938 DeSoto. At one time The Gillette Safety Tire Company was one of the world’s largest supplier of OEM tires, and produced tires under the Gillette, Ward, Atlas, U.S. Rubber and U.S. Royal brands. In 1940, U.S. Rubber bought all outstanding shares of Gillette stock. Gillette tires are still manufactured to this day, probably by Michelin, who purchased U.S. Rubber/Uniroyal. He later sold Seiberling (Frank Seiberling co-founder of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898, and later the Seiberling Rubber Company in 1921)) and after that Hercules which continues to produce tires to this day.

Uncle Bud was a fantastic mechanic and gave me a foundation for working on cars, as well as my first set of tools that I still have and use to this day. I can remember him laughing as I swore up a storm while underneath my 1960 Plymouth 318 trying to change its Y-pipe, a real bitch of a job. Lots of bloody scrapes and other lesions later, the pipe was exchanged. Luckily I will never have to do that job again.

1953 Jeep Pickup

In the mid ‘60s Bud outfitted his 1953 Jeep pickup with a Plymouth 318 and painted it School Bus yellow. He asked me to letter it as required by law. I went to the local five and dime, bought a crappy craft paint brush and a bottle of model car black enamel. Somehow the result wasn’t half bad. I was probably 15 years old at the time and didn’t know about One Shot enamels and camel hair brushes. But being dumb and young, I got the job done. Oh, and since we were so close to the Big Muddy, I chose Riverboat as my type style.

Lingafelter Tire Shop 1985

But time moves on. The Aledo National Bank bought my uncle’s shop and the Dodge dealer next door for its new banking complex. Uncle Bud then leased a space on Rte. 17 within walking distance from his house that had been a former Olds dealership. He didn’t do much tire business by then, about 1985, but I don’t think he really cared. The few times that I visited the “new” shop it was populated with old fogies drinking coffee and listening to the stock reports on Bud’s radio. Bud died in 1987.

Many times while working on my own cars I think, how would Uncle Bud have done this? I miss you Bud.