The Story of an American Dream, part one

“The American Dream is the heartbeat of our collective ethos. For generations it has promised that through hard work, each of us has the opportunity for success and prosperity- a social mobility brought about by our ability to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and achieve whatever our imagination holds.” July 2, 2014 Success.com, Jim Motavalli

The American Dream. Defined in the dictionary as “the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative”, it is a term we throw around in respect to our nations history, but do we really believe it still exists? As children who grew up watching our parents struggle to meet our family’s needs through their small business, we were familiar with the idea of the American Dream, but until recently, haven’t associated it with our own parents. In fact, in the writing of this little history, I have become aware that our parents themselves don’t associate with being makers of the American Dream! When approached by us to document the history of C&R, they resisted, feeling embarrassed with the idea of representing themselves as being out of the ordinary in any way. I have since realized that in the midst of making a dream, it is hard to see the remarkable. It has been an honor to step outside of the day-to-day challenges that any worthwhile dream must endure, and see the courage, hard work, and fortitude that goes into the making of an American Dream.

It was the late 1960’s when our mom and dad (Ron and Meta Croney) set out to make a life together. They had been high school sweethearts for a time, and, as is often the case, they couldn’t have dreamed what the future would hold. The journey has been every thing but easy, but together they have created a successful family business that continues to grow and adapt to the needs of the community it serves. As their children, we know this story well and have much to be thankful for and to admire in our parents. Theirs is a classic tale of hard work, determination, and family values that, from the outside, has all of the makings of The American Dream come to life. What most people don’t know is the roller coaster ride of highs and lows- the continual “picking themselves up by the bootstraps” that occurred time and time again, as our family worked together to create C&R’s story.

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Dad and Mom raised six children, 3 boys and 3 girls. Most of our growing up years were in Tremonton, Utah. An only child, Dad was moved frequently as a child- changing schools (at least once a year and often more) and didn‘t want that for his own family. I remember him telling us horror stories as “the new kid”, along with happy tales of schools that were a good fit. He once told me, “If you hated the school, it wasn’t too bad because you knew it wouldn’t last long. But if you loved the school, the bad part was that you knew it wouldn’t last long.“ As a father, he was determined to provide his children with more stability.

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Dad had always been interested in cars. His grandpa did his own mechanic work on his cars and let him tag along as he worked, but for the most part, everything Dad learned he taught himself. As a junior in high school, he drove a yellow and red ‘54 Studebaker that was nicknamed “Ketchup and Mustard” by his friends. He did the body work himself and ended up painting it green, at which point the old Studebaker became known as “the pickle”. He also worked at Fronks and for the city mowing lawns. He worked and saved- and then, as a gift to himself to celebrate high school graduation, he ordered in a brand new ‘66 Chevelle. Unfortunately, after they were married, Mom was in an accident in the Chevelle, so he put his skills to work again. He received permission to work in an old, empty building in town and did all the repair and new paint himself.

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With several young children in tow, the young couple moved from Tremonton to Tooele, where Dad worked for Utah Power and Light during the day, and for TerraCor (who was developing what is now known as Stansbury Park) at night to support his little family. He started as a “greaser”, greasing the heavy earth moving machines on the job sites, and worked up- eventually painting their trucks and a semi. After he left Terracor, Mom and Dad bought a house where he built a garage so he could do bodywork on the side. Mom recalled that he never really advertised, but word always got around and he would do bodywork on the side, fitting it around his full time job. It was there in that little garage in Tooele that he restored an old Packard, painting it Maroon.

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He continued to work for UP&L, moving to Big Cottonwood Canyon for a year before moving back to Tremonton, where they settled in to raise a family.

Their first home back in Tremonton was an old farmhouse. Behind the house was a small red barn with a dirt floor. Before long, Dad had turned the little barn into a shop by framing in 2×4 walls and pouring a cement floor so that he could paint there. They never had extra money to hire out what needed to be done, so true to form, they just did it themselves. Before long, the family had outgrown the little farmhouse, and they moved again- for the last time. Just a half mile down the road, a little rambler with a milk barn that would make a perfect auto body shop

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