Published in the Sunday Journal Gazette
By Forest J. McComb
Note: HUBERT J. McCOMB, retired Fort Wayne businessman is widely remembered by folks who sort of grew up with the automobile and airplane. Now a resident of the Sarasota, Florida, area, he received this commemorative letter from a brother recently.
To HUBERT J. McCOMB,
If I remember correctly, you were 84 years of age this July 12, 1970.
Now, on arriving at this advanced stage of manhood, Hubert, it is time for you to put away childish things and start considering what you intend to do with your life. The decisions you make now will have far reaching repercussions to you, your family and your world.
It is time, too, for you to give up such childish pastimes as building blocks, lickiní lollypops, and teasing pretty little girls. Instead, youíll be taking up more serious things of life Ė like getting your driverís permit, what clubs youíll join, and what avocation to take up as your lifeís work.
Take this driver permit thing. I know youíve been counting the years, months, weeks, days, and hours Ďtil the day would come for you to get it.
But I want to warn you; itís really just a vicious circle. You see, you want to get a permit to drive a car, so you can go out in the world and find a girl, so you can fall in love and marry, so she and you can produce another boy who can grow up and some day get a permit. Its all as simple as that!
Now weíll take up your life-work. Knowing you so well, and all about your mechan-ical ability and love of electricity, Iíd suggest that you start a shop and repair the electric parts of automobiles. Sparkplugs, generators, distributors, coils, and wiring will need repairing and replacing as long as they remain parts of cars. You could even call the shop Ė The McComb Ignition Company. Think of the service you can render mankind! People arrive at the shop downhearted and depressed Ė the old jalopy just donít run right anymore, or perhaps, not at all. And the thought of what the monthly payments for anew car would be scare the Bejabbers out of the owner, and he comes to you out of sheer desperation!
You tinker a while, replace some parts, test with instruments, the engine begins to percolate, and soon, to the customerís delight it is purring like a cream-fed kitten and running smooth as a brand new sewing machine with a 20-year guarantee. Needless to say, this customer leaves smiling from ear to ear and his head in the clouds.
Then one day a fellow named Joe Blow drives in with a dead generator. Now this Joe is a Good Joe who has six kids to feed and buy shoes for. He is scared and heavyhearted, but resigned to the expense of a generator exchange. While looking over the engine, you discover all he needs is a fan belt tightened, which you proceed to give him Ė on the house!
To Joeís protests about wanting to pay, you smile and and say: ďNo charge today, Joe, but be sure to come back when you really got trouble!Ē
Of course, the jokeís on Joe, and heís apt to go over to General Electric, and laughingly tell all his friends about it, which wonít hurt your public relations much.
To start the shop, thereís a low-cost building on Ewing Street where you could work until convinced the city wants and needs you. Then you can move to Main Street and Maiden Lane, and while here, you really get a toehold into the business. Then, youíll discover a fellow has a lot on Barr Street just south of Jefferson, and heíll offer to build the very building you need. Iíd advise you to stay put here, Hubert, for a permanent location is important to any business Ė the customers know exactly where you are!
There are two side products that youíll probably get to access to that will help you mightily on the way. The Marvel Penetrating Oil is a marvel that can solve many a problem at the shop and make many an engine run like it never ran before, and Mallory has come out with a hot coil that has the lightning kick of the meanest mule, rains knockout punches to all cylinders like Jack Dempsey, and returns many a lagging engine to jumping-jack life.
Iím certain, too, now that youíve given up all boyhood frivolity and become firmly established in business, youíll want to join up with several clubs and organizations. I canít give you much advice here, but Iíve heard that Fort Wayne has lots of good Lions Clubs. No doubt youíll join one of Ďem, work hard at projects and give generously of your time and means.
Youíve talked lots about Florida, so I suppose youíll want to live there when it comes time to retire from business. Probably, somewhere around Sarasota or to be exact a little south of Osprey. And, of course, youíll transfer your Lion membership from Fort Wayne to the South Trail Lions Club on Route 41, give them 100 per cent of your talent and loyalty, and make grand friends of those fine members there.
After many years I can see you coming back and visiting the old club at noon in downtown Fort Wayne, being introduced again to all the old and new members alike, and getting a thunderous standing ovation from one and all. Sure, it made you feel tingley all over, and happy, and good to know they cared that much. You might even have to wipe away a tear or two.
Iíve also heard the Order of Free Masons is a good organization to belong to here in Fort Wayne. And Iíve heard, that no matter where you live, theyíll send a recognition pin for 50 years of membership! Oops! You say youíve already gotten it! And you say they found you at the Cathedral Health Center at 333 East Ashley Street, Jacksonville, Florida. Iím might happy about that, and Iím glad your eye operations are over and you have high hopes of recovering your sight.
It looks to me as if youíre doing right well for just a country lad, with honors coming from all directions. With all your family and friends pulling for you, youíve certainly got a lot to live for.
You know I always write you about this time of year, to let you know how things are. Iíll always say July is a good month for a boy like you to be born in. Itís a good month for us here, too. The cattle are belly-deep in grass. The hens are layiní and cackliní like mad. The gardenís coming on good, and weíll soon have roasting ears Ė and what corn thatíll be! Mollieís colt is doing well Ė and oh yes, I want you to know Iím very proud to have you for an 84-year-young brother!