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of Freeland, Pa.
John Tancin's garage, tire and auto supply businesses
On August 30, 1929, a local newspaper carried the following item:
Established Business in Freeland
[To note about that newspaper article above: Those non-Slovak newspaper reporters really had a hard time getting the Slovak names right in those days. In their defense, though, at least in this case, my grandfather had a pretty thick accent.]
At some earlier point in the 1920s, my grandfather John Tancin had started a tire repair business behind his home in Upper Lehigh, where he lived at 58 Main Street. He had come from Slovakia in 1908 and worked in the mines in Upper Lehigh before beginning this new business venture. In 1929 he moved his business to 520 Washington Street, on property rented from Adolph Zimmerman in Freeland at Washington Street just below Main Street, behind Genie Boyle's bar, and that move is what the newspaper article quoted above is reporting. In addition to being behind (south of) Genie Boyle's, the garage was also behind (east of) Adolph Zimmerman's Centre Street store.
Amazingly, this garage is captured on the black and white DVD now available from the Freeland Historical Society that shows views around Freeland in the 1930s. A little more than 2 minutes into the film you can see the garage and also my grandfather and my teenaged father working on someone's car! (Both are wearing caps, in case you get a chance to see the DVD.) For me, seeing this was like a time machine and I'm so grateful to the person who shot that film all those years ago, and to the people who have preserved it and made it available now. This still shot captured from the film was made by Ed Merrick.
Here is an interesting relic from that time, courtesy
Bob Celentano. It was a common practice to distribute cards containing
the borough's fire alarm codes, to which were added an advertisement
for a local business, in this case my grandfather's tire shop. Here's a larger view. [There are
some interesting features about the alarm codes, such as for example
"riot alarm," to be explored at another time.]
However, I wonder about that, because although neither my
grandfather nor his business are listed in the 1952 phone book, both
are listed in the 1937 phone book, at the Washington Street address!
John Tancin, Sr. died in 1965. His son Joe had gone some years
earlier to work for General Tire Company in Hazleton. John Jr. and
George continued to work in the garage at 301 Centre Street for some
years, then finally closed down the business. The auto supply store had
been closed some years earlier. Steve built his own garage in Freeland
in 1955 and ran a used tire / tire repair business until his death in
1991. To this day I run into people in Freeland who remember Tancin's
tires and who were regular customers of my grandfather's and uncles' or
my dad's businesses.
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