COAL TOWNSHIP - After 58 years of selling cars in the Shamokin and Coal Township Area, Sam Bressi has hung up his keys for the last time. The 78-year-old owner and operator of Sam Bressi Motors, located on Route 61 just outside of Shamokin, retired in October and has sold his used car lot and building to Sunbury Motors which plans on putting one of their Quick Lane service centers at the location.

"I had a long run," Bressi said while sitting in his "man cave" in the basement of his home on Walnut Street in Coal Township. "How many people can say they had 58 years in any job?"

The last car he found a driver for was a 2001 Buick Century.

No car calling

Bressi, a 1952 graduate of Coal Township High School, never planned on going into the auto business. After graduation he married his wife of 60 years, Mae.

"That was probably the best move I made in my adult life," Bressi says of getting married. "Fifty percent of a man's success can be attributed to a good wife."

Bressi took a job at Morris Manufacturing, a shirt factory in Shamokin that was located in the Lark Building on Walnut Street where he worked for one year before being laid off.

One door closes, another opens

Paul Krayniak offered Bressi the opportunity to sell cars for him at his used lot "PK Motors."

Bressi took a shine to selling cars and felt it was a good business. When he received a call to return to work at the factory six months later, he turned it down.

He equates the ten years (1954 to 1964) he worked for Krayniak to "going to college in the auto business."

"He gave me a shot and got me started" Bressi said.

After a decade working and learning the business, Bressi felt it was time to take a chance and strike out on his own. He rented a lot in Tharptown for $25 a month, built a small office and, with a small loan, had eighteen used cars for sale in his first advertisement in the Shamokin News Dispatch. A laminated copy of his first ad sits on a desk in the basement of his home. He found it in his mother-in-law's house. The ad copy says "I can sell you any car on the lot with no money down with approved credit."

Included in the ad were a 1962 Ford Galaxie, 1960 Rambler, 1962 Ford Falcon, 1960 Plymouth Fury and a 1950 Oldsmobile.

Bressi mentions that he had the benefit of starting when the area was booming and new and used car dealers were plentiful. There were four new Chevrolet dealers between Paxinos and Mount Carmel and five or six new car dealership in Shamokin alone at the time.

When Route 61 was moved and no longer went directly through Tharptown, Bressi switched lots in 1967 to a lot near the current Masser's Farm Market. After a year of being unhappy with that location, he moved again in 1968. This time to his last location at 320 Luke Fiddler, Coal Township, on Route 61 outside of Shamokin, where he stayed until he retired last month.

Just like heaven

"If you like your job, it is like going to heaven. You spend most of your life at your job," Bressi said of selling cars most of his life. "You treat people as you want to be treated yourself. That was how I was able to stay in business. I think we had an excellent reputation in the area."

As for his plans for retirement he said he and his wife "are going to do what we want. It is time to enjoy life a little." He added that he would also like to do some volunteer work and enjoy his great- grandchildren.

Bressi and his wife raised four children at their home on Walnut Street in Coal Township, in which he was also raised. He purchased it from his parents. They also have four grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.