MARENGO — Sadie Fitzpatrick says the thing she will miss the most will be the people as she leaves Gene’s Auto Service after 60 years serving the public.
“I will miss people a whole lot,” Sadie said. “Our customers have been good to us.”
Sadie said she has also gotten to know many new people in the community from her 32 years driving school bus for the Highland district. She said many of the kids on her bus still stop in at the service station to see her, and now they bring their kids.
Sadie said that one thing she values is getting to know the new people in the community from her work at the service station and from driving bus. Along with doing the bookkeeping for the business she regularly pumps gas for customers.
Sadie’s son Tom Fitzpatrick has been at the service station for 60 years.
“I was five years old when my dad Gene opened the station in 1958,” Tom said “We have also had Wheel Horse and Toro sales since 1960.”
Tom has pumped gas and done mechanical work on many cars and trucks over the years since before he graduated from Highland High School in 1973.
He grew nostalgic as he recalled the 1950s and 60s in Marengo when there was a car dealership, two hardware stores, a grocery and other stores. He pointed across the road to where the Marengo Train Depot was located until the late 1950s. He said you could take the train to Fulton and south as far as Newark.
Marengo Hardware’s Wayne Hinkle said Gene’s has been a mainstay for the community over the years.
“For as long as I can remember there has been a group of old-time coffee drinkers that come in at 6 a.m. for a free cup of coffee and stay to visit at Gene’s,” Hinkle added with a chuckle. “Now I’m one of those old-time coffee drinkers.”
Hinkle added a personal remembrance from the days he drove up to teach at South Central in Huron County.
When he got the teaching position in Huron County, he told Sadie he wouldn’t be stopping in for a while since he would leave town at 5 a.m.
He said Sadie who usually opened at 5:30 a.m. began opening at 5 a.m. And she opened every morning at 5 a.m. for the four years he worked at South Central.
Hinkle calls her one of the most trusted and trusting people in the community. He could send his kids there for gas and Sadie would fill their tank, knowing he would come in to pay.
Both Tom and Sadie are pleased to welcome Gene’s new owner Tom Chafin. They see he is very enthusiastic to take over the business and offer services they have had over the years.
Sadie, who graduated from Marengo High School in 1952 when the school was K-12, calls Marengo “a great community.”
“I enjoy living here,” Sadie said. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”