Spark Plug: The Woman Mechanic

Meet the beauty shop operator who is also a crackerjack woman mechanic.

| January/February 1968

  • spark-plug-lady-mechanic.jpg
    Hazel Ertle in the more effeminate role of beautician in herfront room "Abbie Lee" Beauty Shop in Winchester, Indiana. But don't be fooled. One minute she's working on making Mrs.Christina Sisk more beautiful. The next minute she's liable tobe out in the shop with hubby and Spark Plug, Marion Ertle,beautifying an ancient gas engine. "Permanent wave solutionsare often harder on hands than engine sludge and buffing old metaltoys and lamps," opines Hazel. Notice Hazel's bowlingtrophies, right background.
    PHOTO: JOE FAHNESTOCK
  • spark-plug-hazel-marion-dave.jpg
    Gas Engine Beauty Shop? It takes just an instant for Hazel,the woman's beautician, to become Hazel the gas enginebeautician. In one of the two shops behind the residence of theErtle's in Winchester, Indiana, Hazel examines a buffing jobshe's finished on a small steam engine, while hubby, MarionErtle and Dave Foster belabor themselves over an old 1 HP JohnDeere.
    JOE FAHNESTOCK
  • spark-plug-lady-mechanic-trailer.jpg
    Like Mary's Little Lamb—wherever Marion goes, Hazel goestoo. Left to right: Dave Foster, from Ontario, Canada-way, lendshand while Marion and Hazel Ertie check over a huge trailer offourteen ancient gas engines at close of reunion season. Here theyare planning to back trailer into garage for winter storage. TheStickney Engine seems to be one of their favorites.
    JOE FAHNESTOCK
  • Rehabilitation of an old engines
    The Ertles look over one of many challenges inrehabilitation of an old engine. Marion and wife, Hazel Ertle, have yet to unstick the piston in this old 6 horsepower Fairbanks-Morsemounted on a portable saw. 
    JOE FAHNESTOCK
  • Gas engines
    Pictured is part of the large display of gas engines at theTioga County Early Days Inc. show held in August 1967 at Mansfield,Pennsylvania. Courtesy of George F. Kempker of Emporium, Pennsylvania.
    GERGE F. KEMPKER

  • spark-plug-lady-mechanic.jpg
  • spark-plug-hazel-marion-dave.jpg
  • spark-plug-lady-mechanic-trailer.jpg
  • Rehabilitation of an old engines
  • Gas engines

Not always can ye Spark Plug don overalls, grab a monkey wrench, and saunter off down to the barn to belabor himself on his pet antique gas engine as a thin excuse for getting out of drying the dinner dishes or doing oilier household chores.

For, like "Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go," so wherever Marion Ertle sallies forth, along goes Hazel too.

Thus it is that whenever "Spark Plug" Ertle of Winchester, IN gets that faraway "gas engine" glint in his eye, wife Hazel, doing a take-off on Rosie the Riveter, drops her beauty shoppe comb and scissors, jumps into dungarees, and strides along at his side.

All of which puts our hero Ertle both "on" and "off" the proverbial horns of a dilemma: should he ever complain that he can't get away with the boys, he at least can't complain that the good wife doesn't tag along like a good wife should. (I hope, dear reader, you're following me as well as Hazel follows Ertle).



In fact it's become so routine that it takes but a moment, the transformation from the petite beauty shoppe operator Hazel to that of Hazel the woman mechanic and gas engine bug—just a few steps' stride from her front room "Abbie Lee" Beauty Emporium and out the back door to the Ertle-owned shop the next lot over.

"You know, helping Marion to clean the sludge out of some old motor, fit piston rings, grind valves, or unstick a rusted cylinder isn't nearly as hard on the hands as some of that beauty shop goo," muses Hazel. "I can remember when some of the older kinds of permanent wave solutions almost look some of the skin off my fingers."



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