Southie Auto Fixes the Van and Takes the Cake

The story of Southie Auto repairing a 1995 van and other adventures - the lady with the spiked hair, Bobby the Baker and the streets that weave them into one story.  Southie Auto did a great job on the van and this article is in praise of their work.

With a hesitant, almost tearful goodbye, I imagined her being wheeled into the operating room.  I prayed that everything would go well.  Tony recognized me from a prior visit.  "Come back in a couple hours," he said.  "Don't you want my phone number in case something goes wrong?"  No, he didn't.  If I wanted my van back, I'd be back.

Southie Auto by Bus

Dodge Caravan 1995 By noon, the operation done, she was ready for pickup so I waited for the next 16 or 17 just outside the cemetery (Dorchester North Burying Ground) and people watched.  Particularly fascinating was a largish middle-aged woman sitting in the bus shelter, her hair in tall, rigid spikes shooting out from the top of her head (fireworks).  Coal black and glistening, they were unfalteringly straight. 

It's not that I wanted to stare, but how in the world did she keep them looking like a quiver of arrows?  I kept thinking about the stiffener she uses - or was it glue?  How much time did it take her to get them so perfect?  Or was that the artistry of a beauty salon?  I would love to have asked her but thought the better of distasteful brazenness.  Who knew how she might react.

A bus ... Yay - a bus!  Wrong one but in my impatience, I opted to go with the unfamiliar 41 to JFK.  Yes, I got an immediate bus seat (to read my book) but it also meant I would have to pay an extra 50 cents at JFK just to get to Andrew.  Once in the JFK station, I had no idea which side of the tracks to descend.  I even felt embarrassed though no one was paying attention to my obvious confusion.  How could I not know how to navigate the T at JFK having lived in Dorchester so many years?  Asking a friendly looking couple didn't help.  They were from England and had just watched their train out of reach as they stood on the wrong platform.  When the red line finally arrived, we were relieved to join the hoard of travelers who seemed to know what they were doing.

The doors closed and the train's virtual voice called out "Exit to the right," confirming I was in the "right" location.  Like magic, the train reached Andrew lickety-split.  If my book had held my attention one second longer, I would have missed the stop.  I climbed the stairs to the outside focusing on reversing the path I had taken this morning. 

Whoa!  I did a double take.  Who was descending the stairs as I was ascending but Ms. Spike Hair. Deja vu!  I didn't call out to her but would have loved to.  So ... my elongated sojourn via the 41 wasn't any longer than waiting for the 16.

Shortcut to Dot Ave

This morning, after dropping off the van, I wanted to get back home fast, certainly not walking all the way down to D Street to cut over to Dorchester Ave then walk to Andrew.  Hallelujah!  Within one block of the van hospital, I found a really nice shortcut - Ewer Street - which runs from Old Colony to Damrell which exits a block later to Dorchester Ave.

Southie Auto Southie Auto
Tony is the head honcho at Southie Auto, 175 Old Colony Ave

Now on the trip back, walking and reading, I looked up periodically for a street sign:  Damrell.  So  there I was, crossing Damrell to Ewer, congratulating myself and still reading.  Suddenly, I heard a voice - my reading reverie interrupted.  Was that voice calling out to me?  "Don't do that," it said. "You're going to get hit."  Apparently, the stranger had watched me crossing the street with my eyes glued to the book and must have "smelled danger." 

I accepted his obvious invitation for company as he stood at the corner, smoking his cigarette. His name was Bobby.  Of the friendliest nature, he opened a space for conversation and we talked about anything, everything and nothing - like a jazz improv or maybe a rich dessert after dinner.  "On break," he said, "from my job at Boston Bakery."  I wondered: cheese cake or brownies?   No, he makes calzones and pizzas for grocery stores.

"I'm heading over to Southie Auto," I told him, just to set a context.  With that, Bobby's face broke out in a broad smile.  "Tony?  Isn't Tony a great guy?"  What a delight!  We had something else in common and exchanged praises for Tony, all them sounding like we belonged to the Tony fan club.  "You be sure to tell him I said hello."  And with that, I walked down Ewer, head buried in my racy novel, "The Definitive Guide to CSS."

At Southie, I expected to find the guys in the garage working.  But no, it was Friday afternoon.  Tony and his entourage were pow-wowing in the office, and they asked me to join them.  "Have a seat."  Exuberant with the freshly pressed Bobby conversation, I said, "Guess who I just met" and offered them hints - someone you know ... food ... works close by.  Tony was clearly interested in figuring out the WHO.  You could see it in his face while the other guys just wanted to laugh.  So banter we did in a way that guaranteed the guessing game would last a while with lots of wrong guesses and laughter.  Suddenly, Tony's face lit up.  "Bob the Baker."  RIGHT!  Tony spoke proudly of his friend, Bobby - how his products are sold well beyond the Commonwealth (New Jersey).

Job Weld Done

Back to my precious 1995 Dodge Caravan which Tony referred to as a "cream puff." The same problem happened with my 1994 van.  The frame isn't strong enough to support the weight of the driver's door, so it cracks.  Then the door hangs and doesn't shut properly.  A bead of weld is the solution.  It worked a couple years ago, and I was sure it would work again.  All of this despite a dealership telling me when I bought the van that I should scrap it immediately.

I paid and walked over to check out the door.  Amazing!  The door closed so quietly I was convinced it hadn't shut properly. I tried it again and got the same muffled sound as if the car were new out of the factory. "WELD  done! Tony.  Weld done."

On that beautiful day of extended life for my beloved van, Southie Auto got the prize for Best Business of the Day.  And, using an old expression, they also "Take The Cake" for quality workmanship, but if that cake comes from Bobby, it's going to have to be a sweet calzone.

 - Submitted May 30, 2014

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Posted: June 28, 2014    Nancy J Conrad