Bio Bite: Harry Edward Smith

By Eilene Lyon

Harry Edward Smith (1892–1976)

Born in Missouri, Harry traveled with the family to a hardscrabble farm in Cunningham, Washington, then to Meyers Falls near Colville, and finally, Moscow, Idaho. There he married Callie L. Trout in 1917. Harry and Callie had two sons, Don and Wes. Though both boys married, neither had children.

Callie L. Trout (1893-1973)
Decorative marriage certificate for Harry Smith and Callie Trout

Harry learned auto mechanics by correspondence and went to work for the Tim Sullivan Ford dealership in Moscow. He later opened his own garage, Smith Brothers, with his younger brother, Leon.

“From the very beginning this business prospered. I believe that it was solely due to the good business sense of brother Harry.”

Harry presciently decided that World War II would kill the business, so he sold it.

“During the war he built a ‘Shell’ service station at the corner of 8th and Main and he operated this station, very profitably, for many years.”

Don, Harry, and Wes Smith at their Moscow, Idaho, Shell service station.
In 2013, I had the chance to meet cousin Don Smith, his wife Ruth (left), and his sister-in-law, Willy (Wilma Hodge Smith). Willy was Wes’s widow. They are all gone now. They lived in Moscow.

Smith, Laurence. “The Passing Parade.” February 15, 1990.

35 thoughts on “Bio Bite: Harry Edward Smith

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      1. I agree but I think those kinds of classes were really popular back when it was harder to travel for education. I bet there are antique workbooks out there that went along with these courses, including auto mechanics! And, of course, cars were less complicated machines back then.

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      2. All very good points. I’m not really sure where you would have gone for an in-person course on mechanics. Trade schools weren’t a thing then, as you point out. I’m thinking he probably learned more on the job at the Ford dealer and the coursework just helped him get the job.

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    1. I think it may have been. Don Smith had it. I have no idea what he did with all his family stuff in his will, since he didn’t have children to pass stuff on to. Maybe it all got chucked, which would be sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting how Harry could learn auto mechanics through correspondence school! I had to Google the word “hardscrabble” so a new word for me and I’m surprised I never came across that word having read many books that book place in rural venues in that time period or earlier. Well, I guess I am so old that I remember the gas station attendants looking like that – it may have been when I traveled cross-country with my family from Oakville, Ontario to Anaheim, California in the early 60s, though there were still gas stations where their employees pumped your gas, checked under your hood, etc. when I first began driving in 1973.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want someone to pump your gas, just go to Oregon. They only just recently started allowing some self serve gas in remote areas. There’s a place called Hardscrabble in Colorado. I haven’t read much about it yet, but I will be doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting! I took a trip to Northern Michigan in 1992 and had never pumped gas before. Stopped in a small town where you pumped and it was the honor system, just drop your money into a metal box with a slot in the middle of it. I actually waited until someone stopped to fill ‘er up to ask to be shown how to pump gas. Hardscrabble would be an interesting name for a town.

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      2. So Michigan had service station attendants even in the 1990s? I’m so used to self-serve, I can’t even remember not pumping my own gas. One time I actually put diesel in my car that took old-fashioned (leaded) regular gas.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes indeed. You are younger than me though, that’s why – I am 66 years old. That was a rude awakening up in Northern Michigan to be helpless at the gas pump. I came back downstate and stayed with full serve until they eliminated them, but at least I knew how to pump gas.

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