The Shelbyville Republican
A gift of deft fingers and a talent for making intricate objects from metal
which earned his father the nickname "Tinker" also has provided a
"pretty good living" for Roy Hendrickson, whose shop at 140
East Jackson Street carries a sign reading "Welding, Lawn Mower Sharpening,
Locksmith and Gunsmith."
Monday November 10, 1947
Page 4 column 3
Surrounded by blank key forms-there must be enough of them to open every lock
of every kind in town! Mr. Hendrickson, who isnít given much to talking, leans
back in his office chair and says that what he knows about the whole business he
taught himself, through experience. But the inherent instinct to work with metal
was nurtured in him by his Shelby county father, Robert, who primarily
was a jewelerman.
Since opening up his Jackson Street shop 24 years ago, Mr. Hendrickson has
done about everything from repairing unmatchable buttons on a local womanís
favorite dress to rescuing youngsters who have locked themselves in bathrooms.
But, nope he hasnít ever had to unlock a vault just as a victim was gasping
for his last breath or anything as dramatic as that.
The key end of the business intrigued your reporter-all those shiny forms
gives you a fiendish Halloween desire to go around opening anything and
everything that has a key hole. Which probably is why locksmiths and key makers
are bonded! Mr. Hendrickson is safely bonded with the National Locksmith
Association. He made his own first duplicate key machine and still uses it
he now also has six other machines to stamp out the various combinations on the
flat blanks. A machine he made for Bell keys now is pictured in an issue of the
"Locksmith Ledger" and soon will be featured and written up in the
"National Locksmith Lodger."
That particular part of his business has grown by leaps and bounds since the
days when he first ordered maybe half a dozen of each type blank. Now he orders
them by the gross. But he can make a key either with or without a pattern. And
thereís hardly an establishment in town where he hasnít worked on a lock at
some time or other. And too, he did most of the lock work at Camp Atterbury
during the war. Then, too, thereís a vast amount of such work sent in from
Indianapolis and other surrounding cities. With locksmiths located in these
places he doesnít know how itís sent to him-but perhaps it could be because
of his meticulous craftsmanship. I asked him about making keys for official
locks, such as post office boxes, lock boxes and such. He makes them alright but
only with the proper authorization given.
Now as to the other angles of his business. Heíll weld anything that needs
welding and has racks of guns which he has repaired . Heís somewhat of a gun
collector and has quite a number of antique models in his cabinet. One, a Colt
Cylinder made in 1850 and another an English flint lock which dates back to
1758. He also had a couple fancy dueling pistols. Heís made several table and
upright lamps for people who have a flair for the unusual. Both he and his wife,
Ruth, who live in an apartment above the shop, like hunting and Mrs.
Hendrickson, who helps with the key business, has her own shotgun kept carefully
in a cloth bag.
Before going into his present business-he used to rent the building from Thomas
Wilson but later bought the establishment-he worked for seven years in the
former Vandegrift-Morris machine shop. From this and earlier periods he
remembers working on some of the first automobiles in Shelby county. They were
mostly of the one and two cylinder Cadliiacs that he worked on. It was quite a
pride in those days but a far cry from the underslung models of today. The car
belonged to the late James Howe.
Summing up his lifeís work Mr. Hendrickson says,
"Guess its just
natural for me to be handy with tools. Iíll repair (or make) your keys, your
watch, your lawn mower, your guns or almost anything else in that line - but just
donít ask me to say much while Iím doing it." Seems, he says, that some
people get the idea he isnít a very "friendly" type, but its just
that heíd rather concentrate on what heís doing at the moment than to talk.
Contributed by Barb Huff