Thursday, March 23, 1967
Spotlight On...

When this familiar phrase is heard, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," many people place Vander Hughes in the front row of those they know to be their friends indeed. And there are few adult citizens in this area who have never met Van. During his some forty years of public service as a mechanic in Waldron, it would not be easy to assemble enough figures to indicate how many times this expression has been heard: "If you want it fixed, take [it] to Vander Hughes." Van's grandfather, Rice Hughes, made wagons. He moved from Tennessee to Waldron two years after the end of the War Between the States. Van's father, G.G. Hughes, was a blacksmith. Van completed a course in auto mechanics in a Kansas City school in 1916. His first employment as a mechanic began in 1922 with Arch Shirley who had the Ford automobile agency here. After ten years with Shirley, Van and Bryan Denton (now doing business in Waldron as Denton Motor Company) established a partnership which lasted 15 years. Later, Van established his own shop near his home north of Waldron on Highway 71 where his friends in need bring gadgets to be mended...wood as well as metal. His knowledge and experience in mechanics is acknowledged and appreciated by others who are engaged in similar fields. While Van is welding your broken stove cap lifter, or sealing a hole in your aluminum bake pan, or perhaps building up a worn tooth on the gear of your favorite diesel engine, he will keep you entertained by telling an acceptable joke-or he will swap ideas with you on planting peanuts when the moon is right, or the best way the war in Vietnam could be won. Whatever the subject, Van is always on your level when conversing with you; and you'll feel better after a few minutes' or an hour's visit with him. Van's only helper in his shop is his wife, Chloe, who drops in occasionally when her housekeeping chores permit a visit to the shop. Van and Chloe were married in 1924 and they have 2 daughters, both married. Van and Chloe are members of the Square Rock Methodist Church, and both are active in church and community affairs. Van is a member of the County Welfare Board. "The best way to stay healthy is to keep busy," Van said recently. Evidently he has a good point. He's 67 years young, and he's always busy.

A second biography was found for Mr. Hughes in the 23 April 1981 issue of the Waldron News. A special section celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Bank of Waldron included interviews and information about local citizens 80 years of age or older.


G.V. Hughes was born October 10, 1899 at Square Rock, an area his grandfather had first settled. One 40 acres of the homestead was purchased from the Dardanelle Land Office for $8.00 when grandfather Rice Hughes came here from Tennessee. G.V. Hughes' parents, George G. & Elviria, lived at Square Rock just as he and his wife, Chloe, have all their lives. Mr. Hughes attended school at Evening Shade for eight years and started the first grade with Donald Poe. Later, Mr. Hughes went to Kansas City where he graduated from mechanics school in 1916. While in school, he worked at various jobs to pay for his schooling; one of the jobs was washing dishes in a cafe. He returned to Arkansas and in 1921 went to work for Harris Motor Company as a mechanic. When the depression hit, work got terribly slow, and Mr. Harris called his men together and told them he wasn't firing anybody, but if any of them had any other way of making a living, so that he could reduce his payroll, that they were welcome to leave. So, in 1930 Mr. Hughes and Brian Denton moved their tools across the street and went into business for themselves. The business was called "71 Garage." This was an easy name to remember since it was located on Hwy. 71 and the telephone number was 71. When the telephone company changed the phone number, the owners changed the name to Denton Hughes Garage, now known as Denton Motor Company. In recalling the tough times of the depression, Mr. Hughes says that in February 1931 there wasn't a single track made in the dirt floor of their shop, and they were barely able to stay in business during this time. However, in 1935 they secured the dealership for Willys Automobiles, and in 1940 took the Dodge, Plymouth Dealership. Mr. Hughes sold his interest in the dealership to Brian Denton (in) 1945, but continued to work as a mechanic until 1976.

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