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From Dorsetshire, England, Simon Hoyt settled in the Charlestown Massachusetts Bay Colony. Five generations later, in 1802, Steven Hoyt purchased a farm on Old Oscaleta Road in South Salem, NY. The farm he bought was originally a land grant from the King of England, whose previous owner returned to England after the Revolutionary War. The house on the corner of Oscaleta and Old Oscaleta Road, built in the 1750s and known as the Hoyt house, still stands today because during the Revolutionary War, if you weren't loyal to the King of England, the British would burn your house down. Before the war and 13 Original Colonies were formed, the farm was located in The Connecticut Territory, as New York and Connecticut had not yet been formed as states.
Ten generations later than Simon Hoyt and five generations later than Steven Hoyt, Dudley Hoyt was born in the farmhouse on Old Oscaleta Road.
The garage on Old Oscaleta Road has been around longer than most people can remember, and it traces its origins to the Hoyt family, who were dairy farmers. Dudley Hoyt began repairing farm equipment, then finally switched to an auto repair business, which he named Hoyt's Garage in the 1930s. In 1955 when Fred Stingel graduated from high school, he started working at the garage with Dudley.
In 1968, after Dudley retired, Fred kept the name Hoyt's Garage and ran it until he retired in the early 1990s. James O'Connor, a local South Salem teenager, worked for Fred and eventually took over the garage.
Fred had known Jimmy since he was 13. "He grew up on Salem Lane and used to come over on his bike even before he could drive. He loved working on cars. He was almost like a son to me. After he got out of high school, Jimmy went to Colorado to attend auto repair school." At this point in time, the "farm," now 5.0 acres, was still in the Hoyt family.
Roger Hoyt, son of Dudley Hoyt, sold the property to investors, and in 1993 my wife and I purchased it from them. The "farm" was now 2.5 acres. Our lawyer noticed a very unusual clause on the deed at the closing. It stated that we must allow livestock to cross our property to get to Lake Truesdale and Lake Oscaleta for water.
The reason for that was that the Hoyt owned property on both sides of Old Oscaleta Road, and should this property be sold, they still needed to get water for the cows. Since I didn't see any cows near, I figured we were safe. To date, I still haven't seen any cows.
As I always jokingly said, Jimmy came with the house when we bought it. The first year we were here, there was no fence separating the repair shop from the house. We had a 1.5-year-old daughter Martha, and she wandered into the shop's parking lot on a summer's day. Jimmy was working inside the car. Erik, his helper, was getting ready to pull a pickup truck in when Jimmy dropped everything and ran outside, screaming at the top of his lungs to stop. He scooped up Martha just as the backup lights came on. Jimmy and Martha were rolling on the ground, with Jimmy bear-hugging Martha just as the truck started to back up. Martha was 2 feet from the truck's bumper, and Erik couldn't see her. I saw the whole thing unfold in the blink of an eye. I owe my daughter's life to that man. Thank you, James.
On February 4, 2017, I bought South Salem Auto Repair and renamed it South Salem Auto Care. Elsias and Junior are still here, and with an experienced and expert team of technicians led by Matt Harisch, I will try to bring back some old and new customers. For those who don't know about the repair shop, we are not a "Main Street" business but a local business in a residential area that has been a word-of-mouth shop for over 85 years. It is the first time I know that the shop is being advertised. Stop by. We always have coffee!
- Bruce Casio. Owner, South Salem Auto Care
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