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Other Voices: A granddaughter’s business apprenticeship

In 1939 Donald (Grandpa) Goodrich, my dad Frank and uncle Don (who were grandpa’s two sons) opened an auto repair business in downtown Los Angeles.

Grandpa rode the old Red Car streetcar line into work every day. Their start-up business had seven gas pumps and one electric pump, along with a wash rack and a six-bay service building.

Besides an outside wash rack, they would crawl into an underground pit to work on the cars.



Later on, Gilmore Oil, soon to become Mobil Oil, offered to build a new facility for them on Valley Boulevard in the San Gabriel Valley where the freeway ended at that time. Their new station opened for business in 1953 with the latest in pump equipment.

In 1967, the three Goodrichs bought a piece of property and built their own facility, as they were now servicing the Yellow Cab Co.’s fleet of vehicles.




I began playing at the repair shop, hiding among the tires as a youngster with my brother and sisters. Eventually I started learning how to take inventory and deliver parts to my grandpa, dad and uncle.

From there it was just a matter of time before I became completely involved in the business.

While studying business administration at Pasadena City College, I earned my tuition by cleaning bathrooms, picking-up and delivering customer’s cars, pulling parts for the mechanics and writing work orders.

I also was completing my studies to earn an A.A. in business administration and ending up on the honor role.

In 1989, my dad decided to move the family to Grass Valley and re-establish his auto repair business in Alta Sierra.

As time passed, I had an opportunity to buy the original business that my dad started in Grass Valley. Along with Duke Klement, I own the business as well as the property it sits on.

Duke’s experience started in the 70’s, when he restored vintage cars. From there, Duke went to work for Bill Harrah in Reno, restoring many of the vehicles that are still in the Auto Museum today.

When Bill passed away, Duke took a position with Vintage Vehicle Renovations, where he spent 10 years managing the restoration department, supervising the parts department and working with clients. His clients included Jay Leno and Reggie Jackson.

Duke spent eight years as a service director for GMAC dealers. Besides his workload here, Duke still finds time to work on his own 1897 O’Neil Auto-Buggy vehicle.

Even with the name now being “Gin’s Little Valley Auto Care,” the tradition started by one man and his two sons taught the granddaughter, who still carries on the traditions of knowledge, honesty and ethics, and how to continue serving clients efficiently and fairly.

If you would just like to see an 1897 O’Neal Auto-Buggy simply call 477-7880. Or just stop by our facility at 15898 Little Valley Road here in Alta Sierra.

Virginia Zanfossen is the owner of Gin’s Little Valley Auto Care.


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