Helping hands after accidents

Patsy Hall (right), owner of Hall’s Body Shop, with two of her children, Sue and Todd.

Hall’s Body Shop and Towing has been helping people get back on the road after accidents for more than 55 years. The family-run business has seen a lot of changes in the industry and community.

Roger and Patsy Hall opened their business in 1964 in the same location it still sits at today, 703 Mineral Avenue. When they opened the business, that area of Mineral looked a lot different than it does today.

According to Patsy, the area was a “big lumberyard” that spanned from their building to Miller’s Market. Their building was used to dry wood and make tongue and groove lumber, which is often used for flooring and paneling.

Across the street, at what is now Besley Implements, was a hardware store.

Roger bought the building after working for a body shop in the town of Louisa. He had recently ended his military service and wanted to start his own business. With the support of Patsy, her brother, Jimmy, and other family members, he made his vision a reality.

Unfortunately, Roger had to step down from his business in 1987, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since then, the family has continued to live out his legacy of serving the community he loved so much.

Hall’s is a one-stop shop for vehicle bodywork repairs and towing around the clock. Todd, Patsy’s son, learned the trade from his father and continues to master his skills. The industry has changed tremendously since he started working at his father’s shop years ago.

One of the biggest changes he’s seen is the way cars are made today. The materials are much different than in 1964. Cars back then were made of steel and could handle an impact better than cars today, which are made mostly of plastic components like bumpers and grills. This has changed the way Todd repairs vehicles.

“They just don’t make them like they used to,” he said. “Cars are disposable today. They’re junk. There’s no pride anymore.”

With the auto industry making more and more car parts out of plastic, for Todd that means there’s more swapping out the parts versus doing actual bodywork like his father did when he opened the business. Todd still does mudding and sanding, but for the most part, it’s “bolt it on, paint it and move on.”

Fixing cars after an accident today “isn’t easier or harder, it’s just junkier,” he said.

But he doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because the trade-off is the speed with which he can repair cars nowadays. That’s especially true with so many people hitting deer, which is the most common type of accident Todd sees at the shop. He thinks it’s happening more often now because people don’t hunt deer as much as they used to.

“Nowadays, kids are sitting at home on their device,” he said. “They’re not outside playing like they used to. I remember when I could bring my [hunting] gun in my truck to school and no one cared. Now? Well, you can’t do those things anymore.”

The growth of Louisa’s rural community may have something to do with it as well.

“People are building subdivisions, which you can’t hunt in, and that’s their natural habitat,” said Todd.

Patsy and Todd have seen a boom in customers from the Lake Anna area. With the migration of folks from Northern Virginia to Louisa, the Hall family is glad to welcome the newcomers, as long as they understand and appreciate Louisa’s slow-paced culture, which some people do — and some don’t.

Sue, Patsy’s daughter, who doesn’t work at the shop but is there a lot helping out, has firsthand witnessed a few newcomers who “thought they knew everything about Louisa County,” which doesn’t sit well with a family who has lived in Louisa all of their life.

“[When I hear] ‘where I’m from in Northern Virginia, we have...’ I want to reply, well, you ain’t in Northern Virginia any damn more!” she said as she laughed. “But I don’t. We appreciate their business.” She hopes they’ll be able to appreciate life in a small town one day.

Patsy gave birth to all three of her children in the former hospital in Louisa and she’s raised them all here too. Throughout the years, Patsy has seen lots of changes to the community, including “stoplights, new shopping centers and banks” pop up in Mineral and the town of Louisa. She’s excited about the growth but hopes county leaders are working hard to prepare for the adjustments to rural life, especially during natural disasters.

When the earthquake hit in 2011, it shook Patsy and many other business owners to the core. Like most other people, Patsy never expected an earthquake’s epicenter to hit Louisa County. When it did, she wasn’t prepared for the impact. She wants to make sure if another earthquake hits, she won’t have the same experience as before.

The 2011 earthquake put a crack in the garage wall so wide “you could stick your arm through,” said Patsy.

They’ve repaired the building since then, but had to do it using their own dime. FEMA wouldn’t offer any assistance, and like other business owners who didn’t see the natural disaster coming, they didn’t have earthquake insurance. To fix the building, they borrowed money from a local bank to make the necessary repairs.

Patsy and her family have a deep love for Louisa and take pride in delivering quality service by people who truly care about the community.

For bodywork or towing services, contact Hall’s at 540-894-4513.

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