NORWAY — It’s not very often that tears well up in a customer’s eye when their mechanic says he is retiring.

But Norway mechanic Paul Hodsdon apparently has that effect.

“This is the good old days,” said the 70-year-old as he sat in a small office attached to his automotive shop at his Roberts Road home this week reflecting on his last few days at work. He was fielding phone calls from customers asking where they should take their cars, and visits from others asking how he can retire.

“I’ve got a yard to do, lawns to mow and wood to get,” he tells a customer from his office that overlooks the log home he and his wife, Lucille, whom he calls his “sweetie,” built, and the large garden they tend overlooking Pennesseewassee Lake.

It has been 50 years since he graduated from the Maine Vocational Technical Institute in South Portland and embarked on a lifelong career that included working seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. when he first opened Paul’s Service Station in Oxford.

Hodsdon says his allegiance from customers is probably based on his efforts to always be fair and upfront with customers.

“My Dad always said if the only complaint I get is the price you charge, they have no complaint. I built my business on that,” he said.

For Hodsdon, whose first car was a 1930 Model A that he got when he was 15, several years after he learned how to drive on a tractor, his work has involved probably thousands of car repairs, countless tows and making a lot of good friends along the way.

Hodsdon said it is important to have a good mechanic, but acknowledges they’re not always easy to come by. He doesn’t mince words.

He recommends customers go to service stations that are independently owned with one or two mechanics.

“Yes there’s some good mechanics,” he said of mechanics who work for large companies. “But I believe they stretch the rules sometimes to make the bottom line look better.”

Like the field of medicine, mechanics nowadays often go into specialties. They know a lot about certain areas, such as transmission, but not about the overall condition of a car.

“I am like a general practitioner,” he said of his work.

Hodsdon said he thinks of today as the “good old days,” because when he first started his business and for many more years, he would often be up at 5 in the morning to “boost” a car — in the days before electronic ignitions and fuel injections. In the spring he would be pulling people out of the mud or early spring ice.

“I don’t miss that,” he said.

“I’m going to miss the public, the camaraderie,” said Hodsdon, who said he wanted to thank all his customers and everyone who has kept him in business. Although he is not taking on any more jobs, he is open for business until Friday and invites anyone to come and wish him well on his retirement.

“I’m looking forward to six Saturdays and one Sunday,” he said with a smile.

And first on his list for the future, he said, is to keep his wife happy.

“We’ve been a team effort for 48 years,” he said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.