Even though we’re two days early, I want to wish Bill Jones a Happy 91st Birthday! He had his friends and family a bit worried by his recent trip to the hospital with chest pains.
I just got off the phone with him and I’m glad to report that he’s feeling better and seemed his usual jovial self. He’s in rehab at the former county hospital (now BJC) today. Bill, I know your fans at Maplewood History would all wish you to get well and return home as soon as possible.
To our readers, “Angel’s Car” was written while he was in the hospital with help from his wife, Barb. We don’t often get to hear stories like this one. It’s a treasure as is he. DH
Last week Doug Houser gave you a rundown on who Ted Lazarcheff was. Ted was important in my life. He owned the northwest corner of Flora at Big Bend and had a bar/restaurant on the northwest corner of Flora.
Ted’s Corner was open until late at night and we Maplewood school kids would gather around the piano and our high school English and Spanish teacher, Charlie Brown, would play the piano all evening as long as his admirers kept his beer mug full of beer on top of the piano. They were fun evenings! We couldn’t drink the beer but we loved to listen to Charlie play, especially on weekends. Ted seemed to enjoy Charlie’s music, too, because he would stay all evening on weekends until closing.
Ted Lazarcheff owned the southeast corner and the northwest corner of Manchester and Big Bend. The southeast corner was a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership called “Ted’s Motors”. Ted had befriended the Auffenberg family (St. Louis Motors, 4000 block of Lindell). Ted so admired Auffenberg’s two managers (Bill Suntrup and John Garlic), he decided to hire them. (Auffenberg wasn’t too happy about that!) Their first sale was to me. I bought a plain little Plymouth 4-door for my youngest daughter’s aunt in St. Paul and Lazarcheff gave Garlic permission to sell me the car for $100 over cost. I drove it to St. Paul and enjoyed two days at the Minnesota State Fair.
The agency quickly became a very successful agency for Chrysler-Plymouth. Lazarcheff was a brilliant business man and very wealthy. Ted had a favorite story that he rarely told to an audience less than 30. Ted went to the automobile show and the #1 new model exhibited, surprisingly, was the new Chrysler Imperial. The car looked like it belonged to a Maharaja! It had spoke wheels and some additives that were created by the manufacturer for this show car. Ted had to have this car for his Maplewood showroom and, sure enough, the following week, people would drive from all over the county just to see this Chrysler Imperial.
Ted rarely spoke at sales meetings but this car gave him an impetus to address his sales people. We never knew whether this was a true story or not but his main theme was “Never judge a prospect by their appearance. Listen to them and sell them what they came to buy!”
One day a little lady parked her car in front of the showroom and pressed her nose against the window looking in at the Imperial. Finally, one of the young salesmen was instructed by Suntrup to go talk to the lady. He said, “May I help you?” and the little lady said, “I’m here to buy that Imperial.” The salesman’s first question was, “Do you want to trade in your Chevy?” She laughed and said, “No, I’m giving that to my nephew or the junk man.” He took her inside and said, “Ma’am, that’s a very expensive car.” She looked at him and said, “I came to buy that car.” The salesman was hesitant to open the doors because he knew how his boss felt about that car. The salesman said, “Do you know how much that car costs?” and she said, “Of course, open the trunk.” The salesman got the key and opened the truck. In the truck was the big price sign from the auto show. He said, surprisingly, “Somebody put it in the trunk!” She said, “I put it in the trunk.” The salesman still wasn’t serious and said “You can buy three cars for the price of this one.” She patted him on the shoulder and said, “Don’t you think I know that.” She said, “Can we go into the office?” He said, “Of course”. She said, “Bring the sign” and he brought the sign.
They went into the office and 5 minutes later they emerged from his office and went into the General Manager’s office. The General Manager and everyone in the office were all talking and laughing. She took the sign from the salesman and took her little carpet bag and put it on the General Manager’s desk. She took her little carpet bag and dumped it out on the desk. He was definitely not amused but was amazed that his desk was covered with rolls of $20 bills. The General Manager said, “Alright everybody, we need a little help here.” When he unrolled the $20 bills, he realized they were rolls of $1,000 held with a rubber band. She reached into her little carpet bag and pulled out the last roll and said, “I presume that you all will get my plates and pay the taxes.” The General Manager ran his fingers through his hair and said, “Ma’am, it must have taken you many years to hoard this much cash.” She put her hands on her hips and said, My late sister “entertained gentlemen” for about a third of this and I “entertained them” for the rest. My sister’s nickname was Angel. I want the license to say ‘Angel’s Car’. This all came from Two Bits (name redacted)’s in Webster Groves.”
When they took her car to her house west of Laclede Station Road, she had them back the car in and put decorative stones in front of the wheels and, with windshield paint, put “Angel’s Car” on the windshield.
This was Ted Lazarcheff’s very favorite story about automobile sales.
Class of ’45