THE END OF FRANK’S ERA


With Ken Martin


THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’: That safe and prophetic statement by Bob Dylan (my wife, Patty’s, cousin, incidentally) seems to apply to all things at all times.


Eras end and other eras start right in our midst and go mostly unnoticed. For example, unheralded, an era has ended on Lake Chabot Road.


Frank’s Garage, a Castro Valley institution owned and operated by Frank Lockwood for almost five decades, has been sold to new owners. Frank has decided to totally retire.


In 1956 young Frank, 25 and a lifetime car enthusiast, took over Harold’s Garage, at that time located in a concrete block building on Castro Valley Boulevard on property next door to JD’s Restaurant. That building is still there but there was also a wood barn there, now gone, that Frank used to store cars and parts.


Shortly after taking over, Frank changed the name of the business to Frank’s Garage and stayed in that location until 1960 when his father bought part of the old Safeway (now Tony and Ted’s Liquors) parking lot  on Lake Chabot Road and erected the building that the repair shop now occupies.


Frank actively operated the shop until 1985, when he retired from getting his hands dirty and turned the management over to Dennis Vanderbilt who had worked there since 1968. Unfortunately, Dennis had to retire recently due to health problems, a circumstance that led to Frank’s decision to sell the business.


Frank’s Garage is a neat, funky place. I remember my reaction the first time I walked in there and found that it housed not only the repair shop but also a plethora of models of airplanes, trains, and cars. When I expressed my amazement, Dennis advised me that this was but a small part of Frank’s total collection. Eventually I was privileged to visit this collection and my amazement only grew. (CV Side Trips, Forum, 12/11/02.)


Most recently the shop has been run by Gordon Perrin and John Rosa, long time employees here. Gordon plans to move to Oregon soon. John will be around for a while.


The new owners are the current operators of Bud Adams Auto Repair, also located on Lake Chabot Road just north of Seven Hills Road. They will continue to operate that shop and the Frank’s Garage location as well.


I spoke to Bill Adams who gave me a verbal tour of what they intend to do with the old building.


The new owners intend to thoroughly modernize Frank’s Garage. Gone will be the model collection, the old metal signs, the grunge, and the funk. (I’m feeling a sense of loss here.) They will be replaced by a new waiting room with high tech conveniences, a new state-of-the-art front end alignment rack, and completely modern tune-up and diagnostic equipment. More hoists will also be added.


In addition to the repair operation, they will also offer tires for sale.


To increase the eye appeal, the entire inside of the building will receive a floor to ceiling repaint. Since the Adams’ will still keep the Frank’s Garage name, I hope that they keep the old faded blue marquee with the white plastic letters out front. This is a local landmark.


The employees at the old Frank’s Garage (I guess I have to distinguish now) worked primarily on older model American cars, like 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s stuff. The new Frank’s Garage, with all its new equipment, will now repair all that as well as newer model cars, including imports.


All these changes are tentatively scheduled to be completed in time for a Grand Opening some time in August.


With mixed emotions I say goodbye to the old Frank’s Garage and welcome to the new one. So long Frank, Dennis, Gordon, and John. Hello Bill Adams.


One Castro Valley era is ending. A new one is beginning. The times they are a-changin’.


CV Side Trips can be contacted at cvbearhouse@gmail.com and (510) 727-9296. We’re always looking for interesting Castro Valley happenings.