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Hillsboro auto dealers: Do you remember these?

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
“Saturday morning serials chapters 1 through 15
Fly paper, penny loafers, Lucky Strike Green
Flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, Pepsi please
Ah, do you remember these?”

– The Statler Brothers

Ladies and gentlemen, the year was 1972 (48 years ago!) when that tune written by Don Reid, Harold Reid (who passed away in April at the age of 80) and Larry Lee reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

The song fondly recalls pop culture and good times from years past. When I was digging through my “history cabinet” this morning, I stumbled onto a list of Hillsboro businesses that were doing business back in 1961. It was given to me by the community’s good friend, Bob Hodson.

It might surprise you that there were more than 154 businesses in Hillsboro in 1961, when Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower was still president of the United States – well, until Jan. 20, when John F. Kennedy was sworn into office.

Maybe you might remember some of these businesses. Let’s hop in the car and take a ride around town. Maybe cruise the block!

Wait just a minute. None of the cars I own were in existence in 1961, so unless you have a classic ride we can borrow, we need to buy a vehicle, or at least take one for a test drive.

There are several automotive sales businesses to choose from. There’s Baker Auto Sales, Banyas Motor Company, Matson Chevrolet and Pontiac, Abe’s Used Cars and Hillsboro Auto Company.

Hillsboro Auto Company was located at 116-118 South High Street in uptown Hillsboro. The phone extension was 3-1996. A 1961 ad in the newspaper features a Ford Galaxie, proclaiming “Galaxie styling is inspiring more admiration (and imitation) than any other car on the road!” and said that “Today is the day to STOP … SWAP … and SAVE.”

Elaborating, the ad says about the Galaxie that “This is the look that started with Thunderbird – sired the Galaxie – and quickly became the styling success of the Sixties. Many cars have tried to copy it. No car has succeeded. Incomparably beautiful, the 1961 Galaxie maintains its distinction – as originals always do.

“Styling is only part of the Galaxie’s distinction: this is the car that’s beautifully built to take care of itself. The ’61 Ford goes 30,000 miles between chassis lubrications … 4,000 miles between oil changes. Brakes adjust automatically. The muffler is built to last three times as long as ordinary ones. The body is specially treated to resist rust and corrosion. The finish never needs a waxing.

“Wouldn’t it make sense to STOP spending money on an old car that can never do for you what a new Ford can do? SWAP right now while your Ford dealer’s sales are booming – and the swapping is easier than it’s ever been before. SAVE with the Ford that makes saving fun!”

Well, that sounds fun, fun, fun.

Over on West Main Street was Matson Chevrolet Pontiac Oldsmobile Inc. The phone exchange was 3-1981. In their newspaper ad, they say, “You’ll get the best buy on the best-selling brand at your Chevy dealer’s Truck Roundup!” and that “Now it’s easier than ever to own America’s easiest riding truck. And, thanks to their own special brand of Independent Truck Suspension, Chevrolet trucks with keep on saving for you every mile you haul.” They also had low-mileage Chevrolets, Corvairs, Fords, Jeeps and Oldsmobles. Prices ranged from $95 to around $800 in a “boss says ‘clean ’em out’” sale of six vehicles.

Baker Auto Sales was at 945 West Main St., and the phone extension was 3-3404. Baker was advertising Plymouths, Valiants, Imperials, Studebakers and Pontiacs, among others. They said, “All cars priced to sell – see us today.”

They even had a 1961 Plymouth Belvedere, “a really beautiful car priced to fit your pocketbook.”

Banyas Motor Co. was at 144 Bowers Ave. with the phone exchange 3-3494. They had “plenty of free parking” at their new location, with “over 20 cars to choose from.” The cheapest car was a 1952 Pontiac four-door for $59 that is “rough but runs,” followed by a 1950 Plymouth four-door for $75, with the most expensive a 1960 Pontiac Catalina two-door hardtop for $2,395. If you stop there, ask for Charlie Smith or Joe Penn.

Abe’s Used Cars says they are “right on Route 50” and “You can’t miss us.” They implore, “Why not take a few minutes to look over some first quality used cars … “We also have several new and used motorcycles.”

Abe’s Used Cars is still right on U.S. 50 today.

Ah, do you remember those? Maybe a better question is which car from back in 1961 are you taking home?

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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