His name was Theodore Earl Woody and he was Otto’s maternal uncle, one of his mother’s brothers. His entire life he was known as one hard-working man. He crop farmed and raised hogs for the market, but he ultimately earned his living by being an automobile mechanic.

He was forced to quit school as soon as he was old enough to get a job to help support the large family. He married Gloria Beatrice Bryant when she was only 14 years old and they were the parents of Barry Woody and Sharon Woody Moore. Even without a lot of formal education, Earl was a gifted mechanic and worked at several dealerships in Richland before deciding to go into business for himself.

The first service station that they managed was the Sinclair station that was next door to the Steak House Restaurant located on U.S. 280, the Columbus highway in Richland.  They offered full-service at the gasoline tanks; an attendant pumped your fuel, washed the windshield, checked the oil and water under the hood and even received your payment.  

While Aunt Bea ran the station, Uncle Earl changed oil, replaced fan belts, ordered parts, repaired car and truck engines and countless other automotive needs.

Otto began his working experience there at their station. When his mother Myrtle remarried and moved to Columbus, he and his brother John lived with Uncle Earl and Aunt Bea so they could continue attending high school in Richland.

A few years later, they opened the Gulf station just a few doors up the street and that is where they remained for the rest of their working lives. They had two full-service bays and the business prospered for years. Our son Scott worked there, and when Barry was old enough to work, they purchased a wrecker and they offered road service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Barry enjoyed fast cars so he and his dad built a car to race on the dirt tracks that were popular in those days. They hauled the vehicle to weekend events all around the area to include a track near Phenix City, Ala.; with Barry driving and Earl keeping the vehicle running. The races we attended were exciting fun and the Woody vehicle had a lot of fans in the pit and in the stands.

Otto spent time going back and forth between sitting in the bleachers with Aunt Bea and hanging out down in the pit with Uncle Earl. One night they announced a special race for amateur racers and we watched intently as the Woody car pulled onto the track and prepared to race. Imagine our surprise when we realized that Otto was behind the wheel instead of Barry.

If you never attended a race on a dirt track then you missed an evening full of entertainment. No matter how much water they put on the track there was always a haze of dust and dirt and the fumes of gasoline.

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