Letters: A family loss, a community loss

Jim Vanderbeck, Pittsboro
Posted 6/12/20

To the editor:

While the loss of life is hard to bear for families, it also can affect a community as well. Chatham County lost an institutional piece of its agricultural heritage. The business of …

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Letters: A family loss, a community loss

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Posted

To the editor:

While the loss of life is hard to bear for families, it also can affect a community as well. Chatham County lost an institutional piece of its agricultural heritage. The business of Gum Springs Garage remains but recent deaths have shaken its foundations. Travis Kidd last year and now Mike, Travis’ father.

Though usually quiet, I speak out now because my own foundations are shaken by the loss. Over the past 25 years I have had the occasion to chat with Mike Kidd. As we got to know each other, he seemed comfortable sharing bits of his personal life. He shared the joys and frustrations of operating the garage, the pain of losing Travis, his necessary indulgence of time off to travel to Jamaica to recharge his batteries and the joy of seeing his father, Roy Kidd Sr., recognized by Stihl for decades of dealer service.

I think Mike may have just needed someone to listen to him but suspect others may have provided that service as well. Mike had been the generational lynchpin between his father and his own son in the family business. The business has provided outstanding service to customers but was also the repository of decades of mechanical knowledge that would be hard to find in a book or repair manual. I believe it is fair to say that Mike is irreplaceable!

The concrete and dirt floor repair shop is reminiscent of my grandfather’s dirt floored business that I worked in after graduating high school. When I would go to Gum Springs I felt a connection. Gum Springs Garage is such a special place and Mike was special to me. Trustworthy, honest, hardworking, (words infrequently used these days) and generous with a smile all describe Mike.

The garage was/is a gathering place and one of the things that make it so special. I was always careful not to interrupt the stories told around the wood stove; it was where court was held! The garage harkens back to everything that is good in America. It is a cultural melting pot and a source for information about just about anything. I selfishly hope the garage can continue operations but with these recent losses its character will likely change.

I’m really, really going to miss Mike.

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