November 30, 2020
Faces of Fauquier: Vehicle repair gives him satisfaction
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Fauquier native Lee Brown has worked at Joe Stribling’s Service Center near Morrisville since 2007.
When I was a kid, if I would get a toy and it had an electric motor in it, I had to tear it apart and look at it, just to see what it did.
Born to tinker, he grew up dismantling stuff.
“When I was a kid, if I would get a toy and it had an electric motor in it, I had to tear it apart and look at it, just to see what it did,” explained Lee Brown, an auto mechanic at Joe Stribling’s Service Center near Morrisville. “And then I’d put them together again and see if I could make it work.”
Mr. Brown, 48, still brings the same child-like curiosity to fixing vehicles.
With 26 years of repair experience, he prefers “big work.”
“If it’s an engine job, transmission job, you see more of a change,” the Orlean-area resident said. “A vehicle comes in and the engine’s knocking or blown up. You put in a new engine, and the thing sounds new again. You just feel like you accomplished something.”
His workload varies depending on the tasks, Mr. Brown said.
“If you’re doing an engine, that might take three days,” he said. “So I might work on two or three vehicles that week. If you get small stuff (oil changes, starter replacements), you might go through five vehicles a day.”
Over the years, he has watched and learned heaps as technology and new materials have transformed the construction, performance and maintenance of vehicles.
Mr. Brown has mixed feelings about such advancements.
He understands that aluminum engine blocks improve “fuel efficiency.”
But the Fauquier native misses the cast iron motors of old.
More durable, in his opinion, “the real good V-8 engines could take more abuse than what they take today.”
Laughing, Mr. Brown added: “Twenty years ago, I probably abused them pretty good.”
And the notion of autonomous vehicles makes him shudder.
“I don’t think I could ride in a car with nobody driving it. I’ve got to feel like I’m in control.”
He worries that computers generally have “dumbed down” the behind-the-wheel experience to where “people don’t have enough sense to drive them,” said Mr. Brown, who drives a 1997 maroon Ford F-150 pickup with more than 400,000 miles on it. “To me, there’s too much technology in cars today.”
Mechanic, Joe Stribling’s Service Center, Morrisville, 2007 to present; mechanic, William W. Walls Excavating Inc., Madison County, 2006-07; mechanic, dump truck driver, Paul’s Grader Rental, Midland, 2002-06.
Wife, Virginia, 46; children, Stacey Clavijo, 31, Adrienne Maverick, 26, and Willie, 24.
Fauquier High School, 1992.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About 48 years.
• Why do you live here?
I was born in Fauquier. I’ve lived here all my life. I like it. The people are good. You got the Town of Warrenton, which has just about anything you need.
Then you got the rural part. I like living in the rural part.
• How do you describe this county?
The scenery — especially like this time of the year — is so beautiful. You see the trees turning colors. The horizon at night is beautiful where I live.
It’s definitely growing. In my mind, I think it’s bad. I like more rural, less city, less congestion.
When I grew up, you saw a lot of farms, especially in the Bealeton area. Now, they’re all being developed into subdivisions. I’m not in favor of putting a lot of houses on farms.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I don’t know that I’d change anything. Things have to change. With time, nothing stays the same.
I grew up in the Morrisville area, and we had a roller skating rink, which isn’t there anymore. That kept us busy. Friday, Saturday night you’d go hang out there with your friends.
In today’s times, I don’t think there’s enough here to entertain children. I would like to see another roller skating rink come into the county, maybe a movie theater.
• What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my family. My wife and I like to go to the movies, or we did. We haven’t been this year because of all of the coronavirus. That kind of shut us down.
We have Fourth of July cookouts. I have fun when all the family comes around. We ride four-wheelers, and the kids play. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
I do some farming. I enjoy going out and making hay. I take care of 18 head of cattle and two horses. I enjoy messing with them on weekends.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I think it’s going to be a lot more urban than rural. I think a lot of the farmland is going to be bought up and developed, in parts of Fauquier.
I would hope and like to think that in 10 years it’d be about the same as what it is right now.
• Favorite TV show?
• Favorite movie?
“To Kill a Mockingbird”
• Favorite book?
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
• Favorite vacation spot?
Ocean City, Md.
• Favorite food?
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
From my father. Whatever you do in life, do the best you can do. I think if everybody lived by that advice, life would be a lot better.
You don’t have to have a glorious job. Just do the best you can at it.
• Who’s your hero and why?
My father. No matter what happened, he was always there for me. He may not have liked what I did or what I said — and he would tell me he didn’t like it. But, he was always straight up with me. He just kept us all on the straight and narrow. I was the youngest of nine.
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
I’d get a new pickup. I kind of like the new Ram pickup — the burgundy ones. I’d get my wife a new vehicle. But I don’t know what she’d like.
I’d give some of it to my kids and just try to save the rest of it. Maybe go on a couple of extra vacations a year.
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