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July 18, 2013

Handing over the keys

After 8 decades in Amesbury, Michaud's Garage closes today

AMESBURY — It’s the end of the road for one of Amesbury’s oldest auto repair shops, as Michaud’s Garage officially closes its doors today after more than 80 years of business on Friend Street.

Phil Michaud, the garage’s 83-year-old owner, is officially retiring after spending his entire professional life at his family’s business. Michaud recently sold the property to a developer, and the old building will soon be demolished to make room for several new houses.

“My last day is [today] at 2 p.m.,” Michaud said. “I’m going to give them the keys and say, ‘See you later.’”

Michaud’s Garage has been operating at 98 Friend St. since Michaud’s father first started the business back in the early 1930s. The business was one of the oldest in town, and Michaud wound up working there for 60 years, with the only break coming when he served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

Perhaps the biggest testament to Michaud’s skill and longevity is the Willy Jeep that he bought new in 1949 and still uses to plow snow to this day. Michaud has kept the Jeep in working condition for over 60 years simply by doing all the things you’re supposed to, like changing the oil and keeping up with maintenance, he said.

“It’s just taking good care of it,” Michaud said. “It’s been well maintained, and if you take care of things, they’ll last forever.”

Michaud said he could have even restored the Jeep at some point to make it look brand new again too, but he opted not to because “I wouldn’t want to plow with it because it would look too nice.”

Regardless, he acknowledged that eventually parts rot and “nothing lasts forever.” Michaud realized the same applied to him last year after he suffered a fall, and it occurred to him that if it happened again while he was alone in the shop, he could be stuck lying on the ground for hours with nobody around to help him.

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