Elegy for Redwood Auto

Redwood Auto was my place, my mechanic, my guys. For years and years, I’d roll in with my inevitably staggering truck or car with 200,000 miles on it, and they would magically make it drive again. Their closing is massively inconvenient, but far more than that.

Redwood Auto was an iconoclastic local business. Presided over by Morgan, the grumbling lovable manager who never left his beat up old chair at the front, the room was a veritable haven of All Things Motor – the rich smells of oil and gas, the greasy parts and bright clean tools, the rumble of motors and the clang of metal. It was a classically American place – no computers to fix the cars, just men in coveralls and an inconceivable amount of knowledge about what is, to me, the frightening mystery of how my truck works.

Morgan knew how to do anything. Sitting in his chair, he would direct the younger mechanics. They’d bring him a part and he’d squint at it and diagnose. I never saw him stumped. Prices were always fair, often too generous. If I was going on a road trip, I’d drop it over and they’d do whatever needs to be done to an ancient truck before a big trip, and send me off with a smile and no charge. Patrick, the affable accountant, was always rushing around, putting out metaphorical fires and cracking wise.

I never just dropped the truck off. Going to Redwood Auto was paying a social call. I’d go in, set my self down on the beat up sofa next to the giant wood stove, and shoot the breeze and crack some jokes.

It was that rare thing – a mechanic that I absolutely trusted, and kept my vehicles staggering along.  Their closing has left a rent in the fabric of Arcata, and I want to thank Sam, Patrick and Morgan, and all the guys, for making my life easier for as long as I can remember.

Jada C. Brotman is the ads manager for the Mad River Union.


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