When Shelton Auto Sales opened at 10 a.m. on Thursday, there were already chairs on the building’s front porch, waiting for some of Hillsboro’s “old dogs” to drop by.
Owner Joe Shelton told The Times-Gazette he started hosting “old dogs meetings” at Shelton Auto Sales in June to offer his family and his drivers, who transport vehicles after auctions, a space to “shoot the breeze.”
“[Our drivers] all stop out from time to time to time — so I was like, ‘Let’s get them all together on a certain day,” Shelton said. “My brother’s about to retire, and [my wife] just retired — I said, ‘I want someplace besides McDonald’s to come hang out.’ This is hopefully that place for them. Not every day but hopefully once a month or so.”
During the first meeting, the “old dogs” brought old pictures and school yearbooks, and Shelton saw pictures of his dad in high school that he had never seen before.
“I knew he played basketball, but I’d never seen anything in the yearbook or anything like that,” Shelton said.
Though there were no yearbooks or pictures on Thursday, Shelton and his wife, Jenny; Jenny’s father, Tom Ross; three drivers: Don Carey, Larry Hedges and Don Tumbleson; Carey’s wife and former Hillsboro teacher, Diana; and the Careys’ yorkie, Maverick, sat on the porch and chatted for around an hour and a half.
“I’m just along for the ride,” Diana said, chuckling. “And I know Joe, so I support him. Donnie likes to come out and shoot the breeze. I like it when he gets to come out.”
Diana taught Hillsboro seventh-graders for 25 years. During her time as a teacher, she taught Joe Shelton.
“When you get our age, you want to get out of the house to talk to somebody,” said Hedges, who is 84. “We all have similar likes — we were all in the automobile business. We just enjoy each other’s company.”
Hedges started driving for dealerships like Ford in the early 2000s after his wife passed away.
“I needed something to get me out of the house. I got tired of staring at the wall,” Hedges said. “For 18 years or better, I’ve been driving cars. My wife passed away that February, I had an operation in April, and after that, I started driving vehicles. I was driving for Ford up here, and they sent me to Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky — picking up new cars. On Tuesday, I would be in Nashville, Tennessee at the auctions; on Thursday, I was in Flat Rock, Michigan picking up cars. I loved it.”
During the hour and a half they spent together, the seven of them watched the rain and discussed the cars they’d once owned and cars they’d transported more recently, the old Hillsboro school building and the teachers they’d had.
When some of them began to leave a little after noon, those still sitting on the porch called, “I’ll see you next time!”
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.