Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v16n22)
The History of Car Dealers in Broad Ripple part two
posted: Nov. 01, 2019
This is the story of Ford dealerships in Broad Ripple as told through my uncle, Glen Hague. Glen was born in 1932. He attended School 80 through the 8th Grade and then Broad Ripple High School, graduating in 1951.
In part one we started with what may be the first car dealer in Broad Ripple, Osborn-Harvey Autos at 828 E. 63rd Street in 1921. W. Jim Roberts and George Hoster are running Hoster-Roberts Ford where Passwater's Auto Specialists and Old Pro's Table are today. Glen Hague starts working there at age 13.
At 13 or 14, Glen just wanted to be around the cars and worked there every day, helping out where ever he could. He helped in the parts department, the body shop, doing almost everything except selling cars.
Glen recalled what is now the entrance to Passwater's Auto Specialists, "That was the entrance to the [Hoster-Roberts Ford] service department. That had a vacuum hose that ran across the floor with a master switch around the corner there. So, when we'd go to work we'd turn that master switch on. Then when a car would drive in and hit that and it automatically opened the door. You had to be real careful some guy didn't get in there halfway stopped or something or it would come down and..."
The building just to the west on Carrollton Avenue (currently Alley Cat Lounge, Egyptian Cafe & Hooka Bar) at 6267 Carrollton Avenue was also owned by the car dealership. On the alley side of that building was the body shop for Hoster-Roberts Ford. The outline of the body shop overhead door can still be seen at the entrance to the Alley Cat.
The maintenance truck shop was in past the body shop. For a few years there was a W. Jim Roberts Ford Tractor store in front part of the building. This is where the Alley Cat Front Room and Egyptian Cafe & Hooka Bar are today.
The car lot for Hoster-Roberts was in back and to the east, where Kroger is today.
In 1948 they got a franchise for English Ford. There were 2-door Anglias and 4-door Prefects. The cars cost $995. They distributed them all over the state. The cars were shipped in by rail. Glen would go to the station to pick them up and drive them to Broad Ripple. Joe Stout also drove them back. "We started using a tow bar to hook two cars together. That way we could get them to Broad Ripple twice as fast. One day, Joe said he was driving back and a car passed him. He said, 'There goes one just like this one I'm driving'. We lost that one."
Hoster-Roberts added a Lubritorium inside. This was a new concept from Ford. An indoor oil change facility. "There was one guy that did nothing but keep the Lubritorium spotless." It had two bays and a seating area for customers to wait for their cars.
Hoster-Roberts Ford ad
1948 Hoster was elected as President of Hoster-Roberts Ford. The newspaper stated, "Hoster-Roberts will soon install the largest Ford sign in the city, which will include a clock serving North Siders 24 hours a day."
Sometime around 1948 or 1949 Hoster-Roberts Ford became George Hoster Inc.
Glen recalls, "W. Jim Roberts started Neighborhood Finance at 1000 N Delaware and moved to Florida. They had a big house there on Sunset Island, near Miami."
Around this time there was a big car project going on in the body shop under the watchful eye of W. Jim Roberts. It involves a Duesenberg. More about that in another issue.
George Hoster eventually sold the dealership to Dan Rohyans, who came from Columbus, Ohio, around 1951. Although, Hoster only sold him the franchise, leasing him the property. The 63rd Street (Broad Ripple Avenue) showroom and office was on a long-term lease, but the car lot behind was on a short-term, one year, lease.
The photo (and original caption) below was taken in the Royhans car lot, where Kroger's is now. The white frame house in the upper left corner of the photo was a license branch that also did taxes. Glen recalled that William and Marie Lodge ran it.
Glen Hague with Dan Rohyans
On the corner, now Jimmy John's, was Pure Oil, run by Bud Offut. Across the street, now Vape Shop, previously Subway, was Philips 66, run by Frank Ranger.
A year later, in 1953, George Hoster leases the car lot property in back to Kroger Grocery in a 50-year lease. In July 1953 Dan Rohyans was forced to close because he had no place to put the cars. Glen took all of the inventory to a used car lot that Rohyans ran at Tuxedo and Washington Streets. Glen worked here until all of the cars were gone.
I asked Glen when he used to eat lunch in Broad Ripple. He recalled Borky's, which was originally Jess Vonnburg's Snack Shop, where McDonald's is today, and the Broad Ripple Bowling Alley, which was just to the west of Borky's. Glen then remembered that they had a lunch counter in there where he would eat.
After Rohyans closed, Ranier Furniture opened in the 63rd Street storefront. The 819 building is owned today by Richard Passwater who lives in Florida.
Glen recalled the closing of Dan Rohyans, "When Dan Rohyans closed, the mechanics, parts dept, and sales force were given the option to go to the dealership at 1703 E. 38th Street, run by Ray McKay.
"The McKay dealership was east of where the Tee Pee restaurant was on 38th Street (the southeast corner of the fairgrounds). There is a little bridge off of Fall Creek Parkway that is still there that went into the back of the car lot."
When Glen left McKay he went to Northside Chevrolet on 63rd Street. The used car lot was to the east of the building. This was the old store.
"One day around 1954," said Glen, "I sold a car to Don Satterfield. That's the guy that owned TV News. Don says, if you're ever interested in doing something else, let me know because I'd like to have you on the team. I was on straight commission at Northside and I could get a salary deal with TV News, so I would know about how much I had coming in each month. I thought that might be fine."
He started working for Don Satterfield at TV News (Glen going to TV News is a story for another issue). It was located in an old house to the west of Wally's Grill, now home to Triton Tap. Wally's Grill is now Crab General.
Glen leaves TV News around 1955 and went back to Northside Chevrolet when the 1955 models were out. This was the first year of the V-8 for Chevrolet. I asked Glen what it was like to switch from Ford. He said it was a little strange because you get kind of brainwashed about how great the cars are from a company. Ford had lots of powerful engines for years before the others did. He switched to Chevy and all they had was this little 6-cylinder.
Glen stayed at Northside until 1956 when he told owner, Bill Kuhn, that he was going to a small dealer in Noblesville. Bill said that those little dealers in small towns would never survive. Glen went to Don Hinds Ford and sold Fords there for 42 years. It is now a huge dealership in Fishers.
Bill Kuhn started Federal Finance and Quality Leasing. Quality Leasing was in Broad Ripple for decades. Today the building is Burgerfuel on Guilford. There are three Kuhn brothers - Ted, Paul, and Bill.
Bud Wolf bought Bill Kuhn out. He sold both sides of the street, but kept the used car lot on the north side of the Avenue (still there when your editor was at BRHS in the late 1970s), where Joella's Chicken is today.
--- end of part two of two ---