I'm the type of guy that when I call a number, and they start rattling off a menu of options, I just wait until they are through and I make believe I have a rotary phone. (Actually, I still do have a rotary phone at home). The message will say "If you have a rotary phone, stay on the line and an operator will answer." So I wait. That way I get to talk to a real, live person.
Calling Wallace W. Wade on any type of phone was really pretty easy. i called (214) 688-0091 to get to Wallace W. Wade Specialty Tires. Then I listened to the phone menu until it got to number 4, company directory. "Punch in the first four letters of the person's last name," the recording said. That was easy, there's only four letters in W-A-D-E. So I set aside my normal practice, punched the four numbers in and Wallace answered. It was almost like the good old days.
I said, "Here's the story Wallace, my car is in the Zero-to-60 Garage in Sherwood, Wisconsin. They say it needs tires, so I have to get some shipped to them. I need 6.50 x 16s for a 1948 Pontiac. What do you recommend?"
Wallace had a bunch - Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone and Lester. He said that Goodrich was the right brand for a '48 GM car. Wallace knows such things right off the top of his head. But those tires had a 3-3/4-inch whitewall and I wanted four inches. In the end, I settled on the Lesters. After all, I knew Tom Lester. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of the antique tire business. And if I recall right, he used to answer his own phone, too. It will be nice having his name on my tires.
Tom Lester, Wallace W. Wade, John Kelsey, Corky Coker, Harvey at Universal, Stan Lucas out on the Coast, Ann Klein and all the others - we owe all of these antique-car tire suppliers a debt of gratitude. If it wasn't for them, we'd all be driving our classic cars on wagon wheels or fork lift tires or something like that.