"Hi. My name is Brenda Hatcher. I was born in a little town called Milton, Florida, which is about 20 miles east of Pensacola, Florida, and it was a real small community, and there were no traffic lights when I was six or seven years old, and I watched the first one go up. And I was the oldest of four girls at the time. And later I had a fifth sister. My first job was working for my dad. He owned a Dodge and Plymouth car dealership, and you can't buy a Plymouth anymore.
A lot of people probably never heard of a Plymouth. But my job was to sell parts and answer the phone and try to type out sales contracts and whatever. In running the parts office, we had no computers. We had phones, but no computers, and we had these huge, huge books. And you got the year of the vehicle, the make and model and everything, how many cylinders and all this good stuff, and then you had to go and run all those pages to find the correct part for the part that was needed for the vehicle. Also had to do that for the mechanics working in the back, too, to try to help them find parts they needed and do the paperwork on their billing and stuff to get those parts ready for them. I ran the numbers.
Went into the parts part of the office and found the part and took it and made a sale, and if I didn't have it, then we had to find a way to go get it for the person or send them somewhere else. I didn't make much money doing this. Being the oldest, my dad took me to work. I got to get all dressed up and go, and my younger sisters didn't like it very much because they had to do my ironing, and so I was the enemy of the sister clan. Thanks. Bye-bye."
This story was collected in conjunction with the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program and its national traveling exhibition "The Way We Worked" when it was on view in Big Piney, Wyoming in 2018. This story is part of the "Be Here: Main Street" story collection, intended to capture Americans' stories about their neighborhoods, waterways, towns, traditions, and personal experiences.