Landmark Dealership – Duvall Automotive, since 1956 in Clayton Georgia

The year was 1956. The Tallulah Falls RR was still running and had been the site of filming the Disney hit, "The Great Locomotive Chase" only a year before. The headlines in the Clayton Tribune were screaming about the concerned citizens trying to keep the Road through "the cities". Bill Wilson, Tiger motel operator told the Tribune that it had come to him that a new survey for highway 23-441, bypassing both Tiger and Clayton, had been approved by state officials. One official said, "Move the highway and Clayton will die", citing Buford as an example.

Belk-Gallant, on north Main Street, was advertising "Union Suits (winter weight) for $1.98 ", and "Ladies Rayon panties at 4 pr for 97cents". Down the street at J. H. Dickerson advertised "3 pkgs Jell-O - 25 cents" and "Baby food - 10 jars / $1.00".

"Carousel" was playing at the Rabun Theater, starring Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones. The second feature was "Francis and the Haunted House" starring Mickey Rooney and Francis the Talking Mule. Around the corner at Elliot's Super Market, Vienna Sausages sold for 10 cents a can and oranges for 29 cents a dozen. The Clayton Tribune's price for a one year subscription was $2.50.

Clayburne Manufacturung Co. served 1400 turkey sandwiches to 700 persons at their 3rd annual Thanksgiving outing at the Clayton gym. Tri-State Building Supply (on the RR) sold ½" 4x8 plywood AD for $6.72/ sheet and rubber floor tile for 23 cents per square foot.

On the national level, Democrats Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver, were squared off in the race for President and Vice-President of the United States. (The Republican opponents were Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, although no mention is made of a Republican contender in the Tribune.) Freshman senator Herman Talmadge was setting up in Washington and had begun to write a monthly column for folks back home.

Automobile dealers seemed to be on every corner. Jones-Stockton sold Plymouth and Chrysler. Ivie Pontiac was introducing the new (for 1957) Star Chief, Super Chief and Chieftan; all with Strato Flight Hydra-Matic transmissions. Clayton Motors sold not only Chevrolet but Oldsmobile Starfire 98 and the Golden Rocket 88. Dillard Building Supply was the GMC truck dealer, and Derrick Motors sold a few Fords and Mercurys.

Enter Steve and Frances Duvall. They had just sold their one-half interest in the Hayesville, North Carolina, Ford dealership to their partner, Ralph Twiggs, Sr. and moved back to Cleveland, Georgia with their children Kay and Louis, when Ford Motor Company contacted them about the Derrick Ford franchise being available. Ford wanted them to buy it. Steve drove to Clayton, looked the situation over and struck a deal for $9500 that included some parts and lots of junk, plus an old wrecker. He also purchased the entire inventory, which consisted of three new pick-up trucks, for $1200 each.

Steve and Frances began a daily commute from Cleveland that lasted over a year. They brought with them Guy Black, Frances' cousin, who was parts manager, Jack Dorsey, car cleaner, and Varon Philyaw, who, with Steve, constituted the sales force. In addition to running the office, Frances was known to sell a few cars, too.

They spent the first month cleaning olds parts and junk out of the showroom, adding a parts counter and building up the parts inventory. When the clean-up was finished, the showroom was filled with new, 1957 Fords and Mercurys.

Eddie Barker, Editor and Publisher of the Clayton Tribune, observed in his weekly, front-page column, "Don't be surprised if there's a Ford in your future. For Steve Duvall, new owner of the Clayton agency, will never be satisfied until you test-drive one of his wonderful wagons".

"Duvall came onto the scene with the power of one of his Thunderbird engines. He wasn't in town a week until he had the public talking, a free advertising medium Duvall understands.

" 'You can make a trade with that new Ford dealer' people were saying. And before they knew it, the were.

" 'I know', says Steve Duvall, 'that I can't get all the car business in town. But that's not going to stop me from trying to get my share.' He said that he'd 'rather make $100 on three trades than $300 on one. That way you've got more people driving your units, which is the best way in the world to show off your product.'

"During the month of December (1956), Duvall sold some 50 Ford units. In the Derrick building he has installed a going parts department and cleaned up the showroom. On display he has his cars. "Being in Clayton has been a revelation for Steve Duvall. 'I have great faith in the city and the county, he says. 'I think Clayton is just right - not too big and not too small. The county has great possibilities, for there are payrolls here and more coming. You can sell cars, or anything else, when people have a paycheck.'

" ' I haven't been sorry for a minute after I made the trade for the Ford agency. I've been more than pleased with the way things worked out.'

" ' I'm here to trade' he said. 'I'll make a trade, win, lose, or break even. I don't take it home with me and worry about it. I know too that you have to make some money to stay in business. I'm going to do that, for I'm going to make some more trades today, and then some more after that'.

"Duvall will probably be making trades next week, next month, next year and the year after that.

"Because that is the way this Ford-O-Matic man operates."

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