In 1949, Spencer Montgomery, a Chandler resident, started working for Leo Jones Body Shop that was housed in the old Harris Davis Chevrolet dealership building located on Hwy. 31 East in Chandler.
At the time Spencer was earning $25 per week assisting in the body shop. He said, “I stayed busy tearing down vehicles, patching them up and putting them back together.”
The Body Shop first opened in 1947 as Tyler Body and Motor Works in Tyler with Jim Warren as Leo Jones’ partner. It was located in the building that The Christmas Store presently occupies on West Erwin Street. Leo Jones moved his Body Shop to Chandler in a building where the Ellis Motor Company is presently located. The business was moved because his Tyler shop had to be closed several days a month for the East Texas Auto Auction, which was conducted on the parking lot and in the adjoining building. After several months the Body Shop moved to the Harris Davis location.
The Leo Jones Body Shop had a wrecker service and also sold gas. During this period Jones sold cigarettes for 17 cents per package. He used this low price incentive to attract gas customers.
In addition to Spencer Montgomery, the Leo Jones Body Shop employed Jake Jacobson as the body man and Jack Jones, Leo’s teenage brother, and a painter. Jack said, “I made $15 per week sanding, polishing chrome and cleaning windows.”
Jack laughs when he tells the story that on one Friday he loaned the painter $10 of the $15 he earned that week. Over the weekend the painter was shot and killed at a nightclub, so Jack lost two thirds of his week’s salary!
One Halloween night Leo told a group of teenage Chandler boys he would leave the keys in the ignition of his wrecker behind one of the downtown buildings, just in case they needed it for any reason. That was like saying, “sic ‘em” to a dog.
Without using the wrecker’s headlights, the guys eased the wrecker up to a 32-foot long flatbed trailer and attached the wrecker’s cable to it. After creating a little diversion in another area of town to keep Maudie Harrison, the town’s night watchman, occupied, they waited for Mr. Stone, the constable, to pass by on his routine check before they made their move.
When the way was clear, they hastily towed the trailer to what is now Broad Street and left it sitting across the street blocking traffic in front of the downtown stores. When their prank was successfully accomplished, they returned the wrecker and quickly disappeared into the darkness.
Leo was successful with his Body Shop in Chandler. He later formed a partnership with Jerry Kidd to open the Kidd-Jones service stations/convenience stores.
We would like to thank The Chandler & Brownsboro Statesman for reprint permission.