EAR/ONS– Key to Clues . . .

Northern California and Nevada is the same district for the car dealers association. So. Cal has its own association. When you understand this, you can appreciate why lots of northern California dealers spread into Nevada more than treading into southern California. Some went both directions, especially if they started in central California, like Modesto, Fresno, etc, and spread north and south.

For the dealers’ sons, GMI invariably was schedule as the school of choice. General Motors began to insist on it.  For those who still ardently seek the EAR’s map location, you might want to scour the highways between Flint, Michigan, and Lansing/Detroit, inter alia.

Before the sons were old enough for GMI, they did lots of grunt work at the dealership. You started at the bottom and worked up.

Lovelock, Elko, Reno, Carson City, Sparks, South Lake Tahoe, were all fertile fields for California rather than Nevada car dealers. Shipping cars between the dealerships was a daily chore. Some dealers, like my dad, had the AAA franchise, and did all the towing. It is in light of these chores that one can view the scribbled leasing company name and then RENO (scratched out) on the back of the EAR map paper.

The late 1970s was a difficult time for the Bay Area/Sacramento dealers. The mafia, of all people, wanted to corner the market on dealerships. They concentrated on GM. Either they wanted to pressure Detroit or they wanted the northern Cal and Nevada territory.  Eventually one dealer, Plummer, wriggled his way in with Marino, and got evidence on him. Plummer died shortly thereafter by accident. Naturally, everybody suspected a hit. Several dealers sold to the mafia. GM, who had Ok’d the deals, ironically went berserk. This happened to dad with Pontiac in San Francisco and then later he sold Lovelock to a don with whom he was friends, one who liked to bounce my baby sister on his knee.

Dealers had properties in Mexico, rentals and time shares, and other properties. They owned apartments in various towns– boats, planes, trains, automobiles. They ran municipal airports for counties. They had conventions together, trips to Hawaii, etc. One of my sisters won the fishing trophy there while seasick. She merely leaned on the  side of the boat, trying not to heave, and the fish jumped out and onto her hook. She still has the trophy.

Lots of dealers were flyers. Some got life membership in country clubs because they flew the plane with the surveyors inside working out the plans for development.

Dealers also had large farms in central California. One sister married in with one of the families there. They had real trouble back then with Cesar Chavez and staged protests.  One of their major office and warehousing hubs was knocked over in a riot. Everything was destroyed but the inner, locked office. The rioters knew the whole family was inside behind the desks with shotguns on the door. Anybody who came through that door would die.

Dealers had their hands in building product stores, lumber milling, sporting goods stores. They were gun dealers as well.

Hunting was a big deal. Deer season, duck season, dove season– the dealers didn’t miss it. They had duck clubs and cabins in the woods for deer hunting. All the dealers knew each other. I would wager at least 25 percent of the dealerships today are somehow related.

All had used car lots. All dealt with the wreckers for parts. Some had wrecking yards.

This and this strange era of the late 1970s has always been the backdrop of EAR/ONS. The clues and evidence blatantly suggest it. The question remaining for me is, how high up was he? When he started, around 1976, where had he been placed? Nephew, cousin, son, or close friend of the son? What were his duties? Shuttling cars? If he graduated high school young, and was the son, as I suspect, it would be some years before GMI, if that’s where he was scheduled to go for 4 years.

I concentrated on the auto wrecking angle in drawing up Portrait of Terror on Q Files. But it is time to start speaking in detail about both the era and the overarching profession of car dealing. Wrecking yards are the boneyard, but the living, breathing part of the industry is the car dealerships.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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