I recently traveled to Huntsville, Alabama for a family reunion and I took the opportunity to take some pictures around the area. One of the places that I shot was at Gates Auto Repair.
Gates Auto Repair, aka “The Gates Garage”, was established in 1939 by my grandfather and is the oldest independently owned auto repair shop in Madison County, Alabama. My uncle Dehaan Gates has taken over the business and carries the tradition.
When I was in high school, I spent 3 weeks working in the family garage during an extended visit with my grandparents so that I could get the garage experience. One of the things that I learned was to have respect for mechanics; it’s tough, dirty work and during the summer it was just downright miserable in the heat. While there, I learned a little about auto mechanics, but more importantly, I got to witness how a business thrives when it treats its patrons right for over 50 years.
I have many memories at the Gates Garage; many of them of my grandfather and my uncles. My grandmother used to run the office and my grandfather took the lead in the shop until he finally proclaimed that he had retired.
We used to drive in from Houston and I would walk back to the Gates Garage with my brother to hit up the coke machine for a iced cold taste of heaven. For some reason at the time, I only seemed to be able to find Mello Yellow when I visited my grandparents, so that was something to look forward to. My grandfather’s brother, “Uncle Junior”, used to walk outside and drop a couple of quarters for us and I would receive my cherished Mello Yellow.
Of course, the Gates Garage is located near Five Points so an obligatory visit to Zesto for some dip dogs and shake had to be made at least once during a visit. Unfortunately, Zesto is no longer around. The other place where my brother and I used to love to have a meal during our visits was Mullins Restaurant and luckily, it has survived. During our visit, I took my son there a few times to treat him to a slaw dog and a cheeseburger just like my grandfather used to.
Awwww… Good times.