Cars are smaller and harder to work on now

Reprinted from Decks Awash, Volume 15, Number 6
November – December 1986
Photograph from MUN Digital Archives

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Hubert Green, 1986

B.L.B. Auto Service in Hodge’s Cove is named after proprietor Hubert Green’s three children: Brian, Lome, and Brenda. Hubert, 55, started the business two years ago, although he has been working as a mechanic for around 26 years.

“I’m from Goobies, my wife Florence is from here,” explains Hubert. “My three brothers and I had a lumber business at Goobies and we did pretty well, but then in 1949, when we entered Confederation, our lumber business fell apart. So we started Green’s Service Station in Goobies. It’s still there.”

Hubert moved to Hodge’s Cove 18 years ago. He has worked in construction in Alberta and mill maintenance in Labrador. Given a choice, he would rather work at construction than auto mechanics, but getting construction work has become progressively more difficult for Hubert. Employers prefer younger people.

“I got away from mechanic work six or seven years, then when I got back into it I found everything had changed. These days all the cars have got electronic controls. It’s not mechanics they need now, it’s technicians.

“Cars are smaller, too, and harder to work on. I think the factory time to replace a clutch on a Chevy Citation is about six hours and I wouldn’t know whether you could do it in that—you’ve got to pull the motor out. I know at one time you could change a clutch in a Chevy, and take your time, and still do it in an hour and a half.”

Not that Hubert isn’t used to working on small cars. He fondly remembers British cars that flooded into Canada around the time of Confederation. Cars like the Flying Standard (it had a tiny Union Jack on the hood but didn’t come close to flying), the Ford Consul (that no Roman consul ever drove), and the Triumph TR2, early forerunner of the present TR7.

“The Standard, that was the first car I drove,” recalls Hubert.

“I started this place up January 1984. I thought it would keep me occupied. I’ve got one guy on here with me, Harold Whalen Jr., a body man, so we can do paint jobs and mechanical repairs. Trouble is, business is really only good when the fisherman makes a buck—then I make a buck too. It makes work very intermittent, although it’s more consistent in the winter months when thefishermen are drawing their unemployment.”  

Hubert’s wife Florence is a teacher, his three children all have some university education. It makes Hubert sound a little wistful.  

“I didn’t finish high school, and in those days there was no university to go to, unless you went away. If I had my time again I would have finished school and perhaps gone on to university. But what I’d really like to do now is travel. I’ve never had much time for vacations and I’ve never been anywhere except Canada and the United States for just a few hours. I’d like to go to the British Isles and to Australia. Yes, I’d like to do that. I love to travel.”

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Transcribed by Wanda Garrett, March 2019

These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.