Reader Submitted

The history of Hollis Auto

Friday, February 28, 2014


Special to the Journal

The year was about 1954. Edward Cadrain, a resident of Everett, Mass., was passing through Hollis on a hunting trip.

He happened to stop at the local Jenny station for gas. Wesley Ladd left the rocker that he was sitting in to pump the gas for Ed. They probably got to talking and one thing led to another and, voilà, they struck up a deal for Eddie to rent the two bays beside Wesley’s office for repair work. Ed had worked in his dad’s garage in Everett. They worked mostly on Pierce Arrows and Packards, chauffeur’s cars for the wealthy. I guess you can say that was when Hollis Auto was born.

Ed needed some help and a friend, Louie Shattuck, a Pepperell, Mass., electrician, recommended a boy who had been working for him part time. That boy was Laurie Lingley. Laurie started out pumping gas and worked with Eddie repairing cars. What was Laurie’s experience with repairing cars? He and his brother, Jimmy, had a variety of cars that were always in need of some kind of repair. Their first project I can remember was a motor scooter. Then came engine changes, transmission jobs, and just taking the cars apart because they enjoyed the adventure.

Laurie never owned a new car and the cars that he owned were always in need of attention. There were times when we would run out of gas (an old excuse), the radiator blew up on our honeymoon, flat tires, timing belts, electrical problems. You name it and he could fix it. To this day, camping trips to Hermit Island in Maine are often blessed with a car or truck problem that needs fixing and Laurie is right at home and not bored anymore.

Now back to Hollis Auto. After a couple of years, the two-bay garage across from what is now Lorden Oil became too small for repair needs. Eddie bought a piece of land just up the road, almost at the four-corners. It was on that piece of land that the new Hollis Auto was built. Bob Reed was the builder and his helper was Laurie Lingley. Austin Parkhurst built the stonework base and Bob and Laurie put on the top. Hollis Auto was still a Jenny station at that time.

Laurie and Ed worked together for the next several years, Laurie learning more mechanics from his boss. Ed was a good man. I guess I forgot to mention that Wes Ladd moved to the new Hollis Auto with his rocker, but didn’t stay long. Too busy for him, I think. There were many adventures at the new Hollis Auto. They had an old 1.5 ton wrecker that they used for plowing snow as well as accidents.

It was a challenge and the dynamic duo plowed snow in some pretty fierce snow storms. Upon returning from a trip to Flint Pond, they found someone’s mailbox sitting on the back of the wrecker. Also, Irving Simonds donated one of his trees to the cause of getting the wrecker “unstuck.” Then there was a black and white panel truck used for road calls. That truck could move when nothing else in town could. Back then, cars didn’t start on cold mornings and Laurie remembers starting as many as 45 cars on one morning.

In 1967, Laurie leased Hollis Auto from Eddie. He leased it for five years and bought it in 1972. Eddie gave Laurie a really good deal and made it possible for him to be in business for himself. Ed Cadrain was not only Laurie’s boss – he was a good friend and mentor. Ed retired and worked part time at the car dealers in Nashua. His health was failing and he moved his family from Baxter Road in Hollis to Florida where he died at the age of 53.

In 1978, Laurie added four bays to the back of Hollis Auto. Leo Ballou was the carpenter for that project. Laurie’s brother, Jimmy, came to work for him about 1970 and, in a few years, our boys, Tom, John, Dusty and Jim joined the crew. Nephews Jamie and Gerry Woods and Mike and Gregg Lingley followed. Uncle Jimmy’s life became more interesting with all those nephews taking care of him. They treated him as a cat would treat a mouse.

Hollis Auto is a family business and son-in-law Jay Martin joined the crew. Tim McShea, Chip Blanchard, Charlie Bell, Butch Stevens, Chuck Hogan, Larry Sylvain, Ed Murphy, Richard Duncan, Danny Whitty, Jonah Ferguson, Bryan Wargo, Chris Duncan, and John Lingley’s wife, Kathy, just to name a few of our valued employees over the years. The Lingley sons still work with their dad. Tom, a Nashua fire lieutenant is in charge of the billing, John and Jim are mechanics, and they watch over their dad. John’s wife, Kathy, is in charge of the front office and the greyhounds. Some things have changed at Hollis Auto:

• Computers have taken over the office and repair bays.

• The price of gas is $3.33 and not 30 cents.

• The old wrecker has been replaced by an assortment of ramp trucks.

• The Jenny station is now Sunoco.

• Peterborough Oil, our gas supplier for many years, has become Alliance Energy.

• The one pump station now has eight pumps. No rocking chair beside the road with a friendly fella pumping your gas.

The guy from Everett passing through on his way to a hunting trip probably had no idea where the deal that he struck up would end. He married a girl by the name of Peggy and they raised their children on Baxter Road, four sons and a pretty daughter. He took a young Hollis boy under his wing and left him and his boys with a business that would keep him busy for 40-plus years to come.

If you stop by Hollis Auto, you will probably be greeted by an assortment of rescued greyhounds and a very pretty lady beagle by the name of Minnie Pearl. And if you stop by around noon time, you just might get some lunch!

Cally Lingley is writing for the Hollis Historical Society.

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