Schmader's After 55 Years, A Family Garage Shuts Down

Posted: May 05, 1988

Except for some missing antique decoys and office equipment that sat incongruously among the tools and machinery, Schmader's Garage - in operation for 55 years - hardly looked as if it would close its doors forever at the end of the work day Friday.

Lou Bellamy, a mechanic at the Bryn Mawr garage for 22 years, busied

himself under the hood of a gray four-door Olds. Dave Miller, a retired police officer, joker and general morale booster at the shop, who also helps out by moving cars around, hung out in the doorway waiting to match wits with any unsuspecting customer who happened his way.

Tom Aiken, a 10-year veteran of the garage who is the youngest member of the crew, moved about wiping down tools and clearing an oil-stained tool rack.

Jim Schmader and Jack Schmader, brothers and owners of Schmader's Garage, took over the business when their father, Cosmos, died in 1960. Before that, both worked in the business since they were about 13 years old. Both brothers reside in Bryn Mawr.

"I remember coming in on the first day to run things alone," Jim Schmader said of the day after his father's death. "It was hectic, and we were concerned about whether or not we'd be able to satisfy the customers the way our father had in the past. We remembered Pop's old saying, though: 'If you remember half of what I told you, you'd be all right.' "

Over the years, Jim Schmader said that his greatest experiences have come

from serving customers at the 610 Old Lancaster Rd. shop.

"I'm still in the process of making arrangements (for car repairs) for our customers" at other shops, he said.

"After 47 years in the business for myself and 43 years in the business for Jack, we'll definitely miss it," Jim Schmader said.

At 3:40, four cars and the pickup truck bearing the Schmader name, sat in the garage. Hoses and a clock promoting the candidacy of a long-ago politician named Taylor and his running mate remained on the walls. Tools occupied the right wall, and an engine analyzer rested comfortably in its place in the garage.

A burgundy Cadillac was rolled off the front-end alignment rack and replaced by a green sports car.

"This should be the last car of the day," Miller said, the finality of his statement not lost on anyone.

The building that housed Schmader's Garage over the years was sold in January, and settlement was made on the building earlier in the week.

During the last year, the Schmader brothers decided to close their business

because of increasing overhead costs and because they wanted to try their hands at something new. Although Jack has an interest in antiques, the brothers haven't determined what their next venture will be.

One thing is certain, however. As they've done for more than 40 years, they plan to continue to work together.

"We're always together," Jim Schmader said.

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