Jo Ann's parents: Florence and Joe Bain
Joe Custer Bain: Born 1910, Ft. Reno, OK, died Sept. 1983.
Florence Nightengale Gantenbein, Born 1910, Houston, TX, died February 28, 2004.
Joe's father was likely a decendant of one of the tribes located at Ft. Reno
: Arapaho, Cheyenne, or Souix. Presbyterian missionaries, of Scottish decent, lived there as well (Bain).
Photo taken at an auto tradeshow in Houston around 1955.
When Joe was three,
his mother left his father at Ft. Reno, Oklahoma and moved to Houston, where she remarried and had a second
son. named Lynn. The family dubbed him 'Baby Lynn,' a name that stayed with him until he died. Baby Lynn was a
United States Marine when he was captured on Battan, and ended up in the infamous Death March of Bataan. He was 6'5"
and weighed 116 lbs. when he returned. Joe tried to enlist but was rejected for having 'flat feet.'
Joe Bain was the first
president of the machinist union in Houston, a Democratic precinct chairman, and owned the oldest autoparts shop in the city
of Houston at the time of his death in 1983. As a teenager, he and his younger brother made money by bare-knuckles prize fighting
longshoremen on the docks in Houston. That talent didn't go to waste. In the 1930s, as the first president of
the machinist union in Houston, he negotiated contracts face-to-face with Howard Hughes.
Hughes liked Joe and
asked him to help start a factory in Brazil, but my Joe declined. Later, he got fed up with the union and started his own
For about 50 years,
Canal Auto was the only place in Houston to find autoparts on the weekend, and particularly on Sunday (afternoon). The
back of his shop looked like a jungle, with rows and rows of old tailpipes. Body parts for a Studebaker and a Hudson
were in the back corner.
In later years, the
neighborhood around Canal Street got increasingly dangerous. The Houston Police Department issued Joe a 12-guage riot
gun (basically a sawed-off shotgun) to use when he opend the shop in the morning. Once, after much pleading, he
let me open the case and there it was, with HPD engraved on the receiver. The muzzle ended about a half-inch past