"What is your hobby, Mr. Wasson?"
The Shelbyville News
Saturday December 13, 1947
"Yes, I know, that’s your occupation, but what’s your hobby?"
And there you have Curtis (Curt) Wasson, who’s been pursuing his
"hobby" undoubtedly longer than any other man in Shelbyville. He’s
been with Sandman Brothers for 22 years and began in the business before
that—when he sold "Monkey Overlands" for Vernie Shepple.
a little crazy about getting the years mixed up so he doesn’t commit himself
as to exact dates, but at any rate, it was a long time ago.
Although Mr. Wasson has lived in Shelbyville for 60 years, he was born and
reared on a farm in Noble township and has found through the years that the
friends and contacts of his early youth have netted him a lot of car sales.
he first came here for residence he ran a livery barn in partnership with Jim
Walker just across the railroad on North Noble street. He bought Mr. Walker’s
interest within a year and then managed the barn alone for five years. After
selling the business to his father-in-law, Enoch Proctor, Mr. Wasson’s
first wife, Olive Proctor, died 45 years ago and his second,
Cobbler, died on November 5, 1945, he was engaged in the whole-sale liquor
business for three years in a store where Polly’s Fruit Market is now
located. His partner in this adventure was Louis Schloesser.
Then came the stint with Mr. Shepple.
In addition to talking up the Overlands,
he traveled around the county via horse and buggy selling twine and all sorts of
farm equipment. But the car sales bug had bitten him and he went with the
Bock-Earl Miller Dodge Agency and stayed there until he moved to Sandman’s
in September 1925.
About this time Chet Sandman,
his "boss" walked in on our
talk and from then on it was hard to decide what they were telling for
publication and what they were merely recalling for the sake of reminiscence—with
a lot of laughs. Chet would say, "don’t forget to tell her….." and
Curt would counter with "Remember the time….." Anyway, it seems that
in the early days at Sandman’s—they were selling only used cars, then with
Chet and Mr. Wasson as the only salesmen and Chet’s brother, Bill,
taking care of the front part of the store—they traded cars for almost
anything, hogs, cattle or any farm implement and now and then getting rid of the
trade-ins was almost as much work as selling the car.
After Sandman’s secured the
Nash Agency and later on the sales
rights for Buick, Pontiac and Cadallic, Curt really got into the swing of the
sales business and while he doesn’t take much credit himself, Chet says that
he’s done his share of putting "new wheels" on the road. They
consider 1941 as their best year with a total of 618 new cars and 625 used ones
leaving the place. Of this number, Wasson sold about 75 of the new vehicles and
150 of the used.
From 1925 to 1931 he drove all the new cars through from Milwaukee, sometimes
making two trips a week. Seems the weather was a little rugged during one of
those winters and he recalls getting stalled by snow more than once. At one time
he barely made a garage in Chicago Heights and came on home by train, while the
car remained in the garage for 10 days.
The depression days came in for their share of discussion from the car sales
angle especially 1932. That was the year the firm traded cars for approximately
$75,000 in building loan stock. That was the year too that one man wanted to
exchange two $1,000 government bonds for a car only to find that, for a while,
the bank wouldn’t accept them, and neither would a car financing agency.
bank finally did consent to take the bonds but by that time the prospective
buyer had decided he’d cash an insurance policy for the transaction. Curt
reminded Chet too of the time he traded a car for some Burney bank stock, only
to have the bank fold up soon afterward.
"Yep," says Mr. Wasson, "that’s the life of a car salesman,
in those days money was hard to get, today cars are hard to get."
Mr. Wasson just has one child, Mrs.
O. P. Monroe, and he lives with her
and her husband on the Knightstown Road. He belongs to the Moose Hart lodge in
Illinois and the Eagles and Red Men here. He used to be active in all three but
doesn’t take much part in their affairs any more. He likes playing cards and
he likes his pipe but as a hobby — he’ll sell cars.
Contributed by Barb Huff