Billie Hester And The Cherokee Garage

Back To Atlanta

Cleo Milford lives today in Hester's old grandfather's house, across the road from Billie's old homeplace in Lathemtown.

Billie didn’t enjoy the daily drive so instead he rented the garage Lee Smith had built for Carl.

“Like I said it was hard to get Carl Smith to do much, so I paid Mr. Lee $10 a month to use the place, calling it Cherokee Garage.” Billie’s reputation as a mechanic traveled to Atlanta, and plus the newly married couple wanted their own place.

In 1938 Billie worked at Katie’s sisters Grace and brother-in-law’s furniture store (Ledbetters) on Marietta Street in Atlanta’s Bellwood district.

“I remember L.T. (Ledbetter) sending me out to pick up a wood stove where the people had missed some payments. I went to the house and the lady was cooking her kids some biscuits. L.T. told me to get it anyway. I told the lady to toss me a biscuit and let me get out of here. I then told Ledbetter to go get it himself because I didn’t have the heart for that type of business.”

After a two-year mechanics stint at International Harvester, Hester moved into a small place behind a service station in Bellwood. He talked with his brother Kurt about expanding the business.

“When Kurt came home on an Army furlough he told me he was going back to Hickory Flat (Cherokee County). He could make anything and was a heck of a fabricator but he wanted to go back home.”

Billie then decided along with his baby brother Thad Jr. to buy a Ford dealership in Canton.

“Katie’s father Marvin was going to help us buy it and we figured we would be set for life.” Unfortunately, Thad was killed in 1943 in Italy. “His whole company was wiped out,” Billie said.

While the war was in full swing, the owners of the Bellwood property sold and he had to move. Billie found a place down on West Peachtree Place in Techwood he could afford to buy in 1941. It was a 42 X 84 foot building out of sawmill pine board with one light hanging in the middle and a pot belly stove in the corner, and for the next forty years served as the final home for Cherokee Garage.

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