Photo 4-SAR-35


Simpsons garage

The town had originally been laid out in farm sections of about one hundred to one hundred twenty acres each. Our farm had originally been the section formed on the north side of the intersection of Route 1 and the Westford Hill Road. Several acres right at the corner had been sold off as house lots, one of which held Simpson's Garage.
I did a lot of growing up in Simpson's Garage. When I was no more than ten years old, I would hang around the garage for hours at a time. Gerald was a fascinating man. He was a self taught mechanic. Well, I say self taught, but his whole family had a mechanical background so I imagine they learned from each other. He could fix anything. If it needed welding, he could weld it, braze it, solder it, and if he really needed to, I think he could have forged it. He had a huge old antique lathe that must have weighed tons, and with it I've seen him make parts that he couldn't buy.
One day he had a 1955 Buick automatic transmission totally dismantled taking up practically one whole bay of the garage. I had never seen so many small parts and pieces, valves, and bands, etc. I asked him, âœGerald where did you learn how to work on automatic transmissions?â
âœWell, I studied the diagrams in the Motor Manual. You know they're really pretty simple once you figure out how they work. If I had my druthers, that's all I'd work on.â
Did I tell you that Gerald was an inventor? He was always dreaming up something. Like his plow truck. I think it started life as an early fifties Chevy. Probably a ton and a half. Gerald had installed the rear axle off a road grader just behind the cab and then cut off the rest of the frame. He had chains on the grader tires and a lot of extra steel on the back for weight. I don't know if he had the tires loaded with calcium or not. I also don't remember if he had one or two transmissions. I do know that he plowed a lot of snow with that rig.
Gerald also made a furnace that burned saw dust. At that time most small Maine towns had at least one saw mill of one kind or another. Saw dust was a waste product. It took up space and could be a fire hazard, because a spark could smolder there for hours before bursting into flame, and a lot of people smoked in the fifties. The saw mills would give you all the saw dust that you wanted, just for hauling it away. A lot of farmers used it for insulation and bedding for cattle.
Gerald thought he could heat his house with it. He built a large bin in the cellar and rigged an auger from the bin to the furnace. All he had to do was pour the saw dust in the cellar window and everything else was automatic. At first he had a lot of chimney fires, but after several years of tweaking and modifying, he was able to fix most of the problems.
Gerald's most famous invention was so simple and labor saving that almost every farmer in Aroostook County found himself buying at least one. Farmers in Aroostook raised potatoes. Potatoes were transported from the field to storage in barrels. These full barrels weighed approximately 165 pounds and they had to be loaded onto a truck. Some farmers used a homemade winch arrangement using car starter and battery to load the barrels.
Gerald's hoist was simply two, two and a half inch pieces of pipe six feet long and hinged together. He then solidly attached a piece of three inch pipe about three feet long vertically to the headboard of the truck body. He put one end of one of the two and a half inch pipes inside this three inch one so it could swing back and forth. A small two foot single acting hydraulic jack was installed between the two hinged pipes. He mounted the hydraulic pump off a Farmall tractor under the truck to run off the truck transmission. A short chain with a grappling hook hung off the horizontal pipe completing the set up. A man working on the truck body could throw the grappling hook over the top of a barrel, pull a rope hanging on the headboard, lift the barrel, and swing it onto the body. Usually the truck didn't even have to stop.
Gerald must have made hundreds of these hoists over the years. One day a man in a business suit came into the garage and expressed some interest in Gerald's hoist. Gerald didn't think much of it. He was kind of proud of his hoist, and with good reason. The man asked a lot of questions. All of which Gerald gladly answered. The man eventually thanked Gerald and left. Gerald was a busy man, and soon forgot all about the visit.
Six months passed, maybe a little more. Gerald received a registered letter in the mail from a very prominent lawyer firm. The letter informed him that a Mr. So and So had a patent on a hoist identical to the hoist that Gerald had been building and selling. He was to immediately cease all production or start paying Mr. So and So a royalty on each hoist sold.
I guess there is karma. This was about the time that farmers were starting to use potato harvesters instead of potato diggers. With harvesters one could use a truck with a bulk body. Gradually barrels were almost entirely phased out. Now a days if you see a small hydraulic hoist mounted in the back corner of a pick up truck, that is basically a Simpson hoist.
A man from the bank came into the garage one day. He asked Gerald if he knew a man named Amos Ditfiddler from Amity. Why did he want to know? Seems he was applying for an auto loan, and he gave Gerald as a business reference. Gerald said that he'd grown up with Amos, had known him all his life, but Amos was dead. The bank man said, âœAmos isn't dead. He was in the bank yesterday applying for this loan. Why would you think he is dead?â
Gerald said, âœAmos told me that if he was still alive on Monday, he'd come in and pay me the twenty dollars he owed me. Monday was three days ago. Amos must be dead.â

Where is this located??

WhenI moved to Amity maine in 1982 Gerald Simpson helped me out by allowing me to get bottled water from his garage until I had a well drilled on my Springhill site. and when I needed a car when mine gave out- Gerald found a car for me for $50.00. It had the floor half rotted out which he fixed for me; it got back and forth to Northern Maine Technical Institute and Umpi until I could afford another vehicle. I've since gone on and achieved my RN and a Bachelor's degree but not without the help from Gerald Simpson and other locals who taught me how to thrive during harsh winters in Northern Maine.I would not have survived in this beautiful and demanding environment without the help of individuals such as Gerald Simpson and others. I am forever thankful for the kindness and mentoring by the knowledgable locals who welcomed me to my chosen home....

Should read Florence Bonney

Bottom of westford hill. Where it meets the calais road.

Gerald was my grandfather and i grew up just across the street from his garage. We had a huge windmill that Gramp, and I think, my uncle and brother brought home from Iowa. They drove there, took it down, drove back and put it up.
My grandfather was the smartest man I've ever known and I miss him dearly. I love hearing old stories about him because it makes so proud I was fortunate enough to be his grandson. So, thank you Mr. Boone for sharing your stories. Some of them I remember from growing up!

I remember sneaking off the elementary school grounds during recess to get some candy and cokes from Simpson's Garage. Hodgdon Elementary school held grades 1 through 4 in an old four room school house next door to the garage. Gerald was a friendly man and I knew him because he fixed my father's car every time a repair was needed. He had the old Coke machine with the bottles. We enjoyed that Coke and candy bar and the atmosphere of the garage so much that we lost track of time as the playground next door fell unusually quiet. We wolfed them down and scurried across the field to the school house to be greeted by the principal, Bones Ellis. He didn't look too kindly on our "jail break". Bones called my dad to report the truancy but when i got home my dad wasn't upset at all because he knew we were in good hands anyways.

Gerald was one of a kind for sure. He was so good to all us kids.

My family moved from Houston to mass inn the late 50s. My dad and the Simpson family were good friends. We would always stop to hang out in his garage when we visited in the summer, us kids drinking soda while the men talked in the garage. Loved Gerald, so kind and very funny!


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