ELLSWORTH — “Ever since I was a kid and knew what a wrench was, all I wanted to do was be a mechanic.”
So said Alden Tracy, service manager at Lee Credit Now in Ellsworth. It’s not often that people stay working for the same company these days, but Tracy has retired after 52 years, having begun when it was still Linnehan’s Auto.
“When I graduated high school, I went up to vocational school in Presque Isle,” Tracy said. “My parents always bought their cars from Linnehan’s, and so I was in there one day right after high school and gave me a job washing cars.
“And when I went to vocational school, he said, ‘Come back, we’ll hire you for the summer.’ So I came back that first summer from vocational school and he put me in the garage working on vehicles. And after that, when I went back to school he said I had a job after graduation.”
That was 1966, and in the ensuing years Tracy rose through the ranks: technician, assistant service manager, service manager. From Chrysler to Ford, from the old location at what is now a Rite Aid to today’s spot, and from the Linnehan family to the Lees. And after a lifetime’s worth of spark plugs and distributor caps, Tracy said “It’s been a long road, very rewarding. I enjoyed it, and I’m going to miss it.”
Tracy, a retired fire chief for the Gouldsboro Volunteer Fire Department whose own father was a founding member of the department, said he hopes to remain active with them now.
“I swore I never would retire, but my wife and I have been married for 51 years, and she thought I ought to.”
Tracy’s first car was a ’57 Ford sedan, six cylinders, standard shifts that Tracy says he “beat the living daylights out of.” After that and decades in the Ford business, he remains a dedicated Ford man to this day.
“We always had a really good crew. We always treated everybody fair, and I never asked anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself, and I think that makes a big difference,” Tracy said. “Just a well-oiled machine, and I still have people today that will stop me in the grocery store and start telling me stories about how well they were taken care of.”