Remember When…

“Fijf litres bezinne en een kwart ollie, jonge man!”

By Glenda Masselink –

Around 1920, about 30 years after a group of Holland immigrants moved from Sioux County, Iowa, to Leota Township, Minn., the first automobile repair shop was built in Leota by Art Muilenberg and Guys Eernisse. In 1924 Art sold his share of the business to Guys and in 1929, Eernisse sold the auto repair business to Peter De Boer. The Peter De Boer Chevrolet, Inc., garage on Main Street, Leota, officially became part of the life story of several generations of De Boers.

Peter sold gas, fixed tires, and repaired cars. He also hoped to sell some cars to the local residents. The first year Pete owned the business, he sold one new car – a Pontiac, not a Chevy – $667.55.

Then the depression years and the “Dirty Thirties” left most people scrambling for cash. De Boer would often trade for meat or whatever customers could offer so repairs could be made or gas purchased. On Saturday, the garage was often kept open until midnight so that customers could buy gas for Sunday.

Peter and Jennie’s sons, Nick and Don, spent much of their growing up years in the car garage, helping where they could. They both received a lot of mechanical knowledge from working with their Dad. Nick and Don also pumped gas for customers.   

For the complete article, please see the September 27th edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!

Nick and Don De Boer are standing in front of their garage between a new 1996 Monte Carlo Chevrolet and their restored 1927 Chevrolet Coupe. After Don finished restoring the Coupe – a replica of the first Chevrolet they sold – it was parked in their showroom.

The Chevrolet Motor Co placed this ad in the local paper in 1924. Some of the car prices on the bottom of the ad are a Superior Roadster, $490; Superior Sedan, $795; or a Utility Express Truck Chassis, $550. The ad states that there are dealers and service stations everywhere and applications will be considered from high-grade dealers only, for territory not adequately covered.

This 1965 picture of Main Street, Leota, was taken from the west. The De Boer Chevrolet garage can be seen behind the Champlin sign.

This picture of Nick and Don was taken at the open house they held celebrating 50 years of owning a Chevrolet franchise.

This picture was taken of the six cars that various members of the Van Essen family owned all at the same time. They were all purchased at the De Boer garage in Leota.