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McCullough… Still towing sixty years later

Pictured above are friends representing area towing companies who came out to enjoy a lunch at The Brick in Don’s honor. In attendence were: Gene Hatch of Hatch’s Towing from Middlefield; Willy Harshman - Harshman’s Towing from Southington; Dean Stebbins & Bob Fall from F&S Towing in Mantua; Larry Eye from Eye’s Towing of Windham; Rick Patrick, Bill Wilson, Warren & Homer Ellison of Village Motors.

Garrettsville – Most folks when they hit their 70’s they are either retired or are planning on it soon but not Don McCullough. Don is still going strong after 60 years of working in the towing business and has no formal plans to retire, although he does admit he is slowing down a bit.

Sixty years ago Don McCullough was working at as a service manager at the local Ford garage in Garrettsville when he convinced the owners to purchase a tow truck and start a towing business. Don even agreed to do the towing if they would get a truck.  McCullough was successful in persuading the owners to purchase a tow truck and began towing for the Ford garage in 1952. Little did he know then that 60 years later he would still be doing the same thing and enjoying it as well.

McCullough ran the towing for the garage until it closed1968.  Finding himself without work motivated him to start what we now know as Village Motors today. He opened his business on Windham Street where G-ville Auto now sits and had his salvage yard a crossed the street where the catholic church’s back parking lot is now located. When he opened his doors for business he offered towing service, used car sales along with a service garage. The business eventually out grew the space so McCullough then purchased the lot where Kepich Ford now sits and operated his business there until 1980 before relocating to the current location on Brosius Road.

Don and his wife Virginia worked together at growing the business. Don ran the business while Virginia handled all the dispatching for the towing service.  The dispatching had its challenges as the communication systems back then were sub par. They originally used citizen band (CB) radios to communicate with the driver. Don said was not always easy to understand each other on them but it was what they had at the time and that was just how it was done. Later, they graduated to commercial radios which were better than the CB’s but still had  problems and now they use cell phones as their mode of communication.

Besides communication, the industry has made significant changes throughout the years as well. There is less towing business due to cars being made more reliable and the fact that there are more tow trucks available now. Years ago towing was done with winches, now they use flatbeds and rollovers to do the work. He said cars are made differently now too, which at times leaves them few options on places to hook for a tow.  Like everything else, the cost of towing has increased over the years too. When he first started towing it was around $15 dollars a tow in town, now it starts at $65 and goes up depending on where the vehicle is being taken.

In 1990 Don was ready for some freedom so he sold the service garage to Rick Patrick and continued to operate the towing business for a few years and eventually sold the rest of the business to Rick Patrick. The sale of the business had him looking forward to retirement and seeing the country.

Well, that was the plan any how. He’d retire, travel and see the country, just kick back and enjoy life.  But that isn’t what happened. Oh, he traveled and sort of retired only to come back and work part-time for Patrick.

Don has seen many changes over his lifetime and not just in the towing business.

He said years ago everyone in town would get together and skate on Silver Creek in the winter and in the summer they would have concerts on Main Street every weekend. Back then folks would come out just to socialize. Now folks just don’t seem to get together as neighbors and a community like they used to; times have just changed.

Don commented that SummerFest brings back memories of those times when folks would come downtown to see their neighbors. Times were just simpler back then and  people had time for one another — not so much now.

McCullough recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is still going strong and claims he would do it all over again if given a second chance. He said the business supported his wife and four kids and he still loves the work and the community that supported him all these years.

McCullough still hasn’t officially retired and he said he probably wouldn’t retire because he is afraid he’d be bored. So for now this life-time Garrettsville resident can still be seen pulling cars out of the ditch on occasion.