Who I Am
My name is Sylvia Guillemette. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. As neighbors, we looked out for each other and helped one another.
I had more guy friends growing up than I did female friends. I got along easier with the guys than than my female friends because I felt that I fit in better with the guys. They did cool things like fix their bikes, rode mini bikes, had neat stuff , and pets that I wasn’t allowed to have, like mice or lizards and eventually had cool cars.
I come from a small family of 5. In our family there was my parents, I’m the oldest (and a twin wherever that person is), I have a younger sister and a baby brother. There were two older brothers before me, my brother Vincent, and a brother after him, who did not survive.
My mother was a professional dressmaker/designer from home. She ran a sewing business out of the house when we were kids. There were many people (customers) and some with kids, that came to the house. We got to spend some time with them while the adults were busy. We even had a really awesome New York Model come to the house named L’ika. She was one of the most amazing people I’d ever met then, and I’d really love to see her again!
My father worked for UTC. He worked in what was once Hamilton Standard near the airport. We got to visit (tour) through the building he worked in when we were little. We got a glimpse of where my dad worked and what he did.
The Learning Curve
I’ve been around cars since I was 13 years old. I learned some of these basic car care methods before I was even of driving age. My best friend at the time had a Ford LTD, that she showed me how to change oil on, change a tire, do spark plugs and wires, change the air cleaner and check fluids. I also knew where to put the gasoline in. Back then, the fuel was leaded (it contained lead). I loved learning about how to take care of a car!
I really wanted to become an auto mechanic when I got out of school. To be able to get into Auto Shop in high school though, I needed my guidance counselor’s and mother’s approval to go into that class. My mother wanted me to take the sewing business over later on, which I had no interest in. I wasn’t able to get permission to go into the class because of that. (My guidance counselor was an older man over the age of 60, so he didn’t believe women should work on cars either and I wasn’t allowed into that class.)
My dad had an old Volkswagen van (pictured on left) that I learned to drive on. (Mom would have had a fit if she knew.) It was a 1973 non-camper style Volkwagen microvan, red with a white top. I guess they’re kind of a rare find and really expensive to buy now. I didn’t even get my license until I was 22 years old!
As I got older, and started driving, I realized that if I got stuck somewhere, I was in trouble. I had no idea what to do when the car ran out of gas or something broke. It was a hard learning curve.
There were no cellphones back then, just pay phones or go knock on the person’s door of the house you broke down in front of to use the phone to call for help.
I was a part of a Car Club at one point. It was a good place to do a tune up and an oil change, as all the disposal cans for old oil and coolant. There were things like a car jack, that were right there to use. There was usually another member of the club was there at times, to ask for help if I got stuck. If not, there was a phone on the wall with numbers next to it, so I could call for help.
As I started to work in the auto parts industry, I started to learn something besides running the cash register. I asked a lot of questions about stuff I had no idea about. In time, I became more knowledgeable. It helps when you have people around you to help you to learn and understand it all.
My last job in the auto parts business, consisted of being a parts counter person, working the register, and being commercial driver and parts person. I got to know a lot of mechanics, garage owners and managers, car dealers in the area and more how the mechanics of vehicles worked.
I also had to learn to use different tools in order to be able to do the “free services” at the store. There were folks who wanted to learn, so I told them exactly what I was doing when I was installing something. I would show them exactly how to do it. It was the beginning of the business I would soon hope to start and run.
I ALWAYS WANT TO HELP
I created a small booklet to help people learn little stuff and not much came of it. I wasn’t going to give up and stop trying to help people learn about their cars. I wanted to be able to show them what they didn’t know how to do. I still help people when I’m in the store and they have a question about something. I don’t know everything about all the parts and products, but I have some knowledge.
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I still help people when I’m in a store, if they need help with information on whatever they’re looking for when it comes to vehicles, maintenance, accessories or whatever.
From this time forward, I am dedicating myself to helping people with their cars, to help them find parts and accessories, garages, tools, books and more. I will always help whenever I can.
To Your Success,