David Stanton launched his used-car business from a back booth at his brother's barbecue restaurant.
His wife, Evelyn, had told him she was a city girl and was not cut out for life on the farm. After a couple years of learning to sell cars for others, David was ready to be his own boss.
Soon the corner lot on Old Main and Stanton streets in Clover was filled with up to 25 cars for sale. His pocket was filled with pencils and a copy of the National Automobile Dealers Association's Blue Book, the bible for used-car values.
He was ready for hard work. Life on the farm had taught him that. He came to work about 8:30 in the morning and sometimes did not leave until 10 at night.
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And when a person came to look for a car, they had better be prepared to stay at least an hour. David Stanton loved to talk.
Today, after 51 years, Stanton Used Cars is closing its doors. David died on March 3, 2010, at 84. His wife, 83, and his son, David Jr., 65, kept the used-car lot running.
But the business, they say, is not what is used to be. David Stanton prided himself on selling low-mileage cars that did not have problems. The cars they get for resale today have lots of miles and need repairs before they can be sold.
Customers are not as diligent about paying their loans now, David Jr. said. David Sr. understood his customers' financial struggles; he sold them cars and waited on payments until they got back on their feet, said his daughter, Leslie Couick of Rock Hill.
"It is too complicated now to make money," David Jr. said.
Evelyn remembers the day she first met her future husband. She was 11 years old, he was 12. They met at the First United Methodist Church of Clover, the church where he later taught Sunday school and the one she still attends.
"He winked at me the first time I saw him," she said. "He was the cutest guy I ever saw."
David Stanton was the 10th out of 12 children. His father, Minot Earl Stanton, died when he was very young. His mother, Eliza Faries Stanton, not only raised her large family, but kept the family cotton farm running. (The farm is still in the family. David Jr. and his family live there now.)
They were married July 1, 1944, when he was 18 and Evelyn, 17. When she realized farm life wasn't for her, she asked her husband to find a new occupation.
He tried selling cars and found "what he loved to do," she said.
He often traveled as far as Washington, D.C., to buy the right used cars. Rosenthal Chevrolet was one of his preferred sources. Every used Chevy of late 1950s vintage he towed from Northern Virginia was a quick sale in Clover, his son said.
At one time, David Jr. said, the used car lot averaged a sale a day.
When he wasn't working, David Stanton devoted time to his family and his community.
He served on the board of directors for the York County General Hospital, was a charter member and president of the Clover Optimist Club, president of the local chamber of commerce, and president of the Clover High School Booster Club.
A talented swimmer and golfer, he might have been a good high school athlete, said Evelyn. But he didn't have the time, she said, because he was needed on the farm. As a booster club member, he would frequently come at the end of practice and drive players home who did not have rides.
As a used-car salesman, he had access to lots of cars for his personal vehicle. His son said David Sr. didn't have a preference: DeSotos, Buicks, Cadillacs filled the driveway. Some came and went quickly, others were around for a few years.
"He kept them long enough for me to get used to them and then he sold them," quipped Evelyn.
Family time included hunting and fishing with his son. They enjoyed lake fishing where it was "catch-and-grease," David Jr. said - what they caught was headed to the frying pan and not back to the lake unless it was too small.
In early June of every year, he would load his family into the car and drive to Myrtle Beach for vacation. The car was packed with provisions and luggage. If you were not careful, you would find yourself sitting on a watermelon for the long ride, David Jr. said.
The Pavilion was among their favorite spots. Daughter Leslie was born 17 years after her sister, Diane. When it came time for her trips to the beach, Leslie did not have siblings to play with. Her dad was her companion on the Pavilion rides. He rode them without complaint, she said.
"He was the best father you could ask for," she said.
Evelyn and David Jr. said today will be bittersweet. Evelyn has been coming to the office for years to help with accounting. David Jr. has been selling cars there since 1973. The office, with two large couches, old advertising calendars and a picture of antique autos, has become comfortable and familiar. There are only three cars outside for sale.
But, "It has to come to an end sometime," David Jr. said, "Now is as good as time as any the way the market is."