Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Elbie retires from Main Street garage

Traditions will continue

Express Staff Writer

Never shy around a camera, Elbie Bellon shows his mechanical expertise at his garage in Hailey. The longtime owner of Elbie’s Automotive has announced his retirement. Photo by Willy Cook

Elbie Bellon will retire from Elbie's Automotive on Main Street in Hailey on Friday. The event will be celebrated with a little get-together from 5-7 p.m. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Though Elbie is stepping down, some of the traditions that have made his garage a part of the town's character for the last 18 years will continue.

"We are going to miss Elbie," said lube job specialist Richard Cabitto. "As far as bosses go, he wasn't half bad."

Cabitto will inherit "Elbie's World Famous Bucking Car," a mainstay of Hailey's Fourth of July Parade for many years. The red, white and blue '72 Thunderbird bounces and wobbles down Main Street like a drunken sailor on Independence Day each year.

Nobody seems to know how the trick jalopy works, and Cabitto isn't telling.

"It's a trade secret," he said. "Just imagine bolting a spring to your butt."

Elbie Bellon came to the Wood River Valley in 1975 and sold cars at Sawtooth Automotive for 16 years before opening Elbie's Tire and Automotive, later shortened to Elbie's Automotive. After 18 years in the business of running a full-service garage, he will retire and get some rest.

The garage will continue operating as before, under new ownership by Ken Sangha, who also owns Chateau Drug in Ketchum.

"I plan to do some work on a retirement home we have along the Salmon River 60 miles north of Salmon," said Elbie. "Then I'll probably take a part-time job for a while."

Elbie's wife, Karen, plans to work one more year for the Blaine County School District before retiring.

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