Roy  Hendrickson


The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday November 10, 1947
Page 4 column 3
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ROY HENDRICKSON
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            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."
            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   But 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

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