There are many extraordinary people who influence my life greatly. This includes: my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. But, one person whom I admire and love, and whose love and loyalty to his family and friends is so great, is my grandfather, Andrew M. Teno Jr., my role model.
My grandfather was born in Johnstown in 1935, a survivor of the 1936 Johnstown Flood, as my great-grandmother carried him to safety. He attended school in Richland and at the age of eighteen went on to drive tractor-trailer. He was an owner operator and through the Teamsters Union hauled steel from the Johnstown plants to Chicago, Michigan, New York, and other states for forty years.
With the decline of the steel mills, he decided to buy a garage in Portage. He bought the garage on April 1st, 1981, and was open for business July 8th, 1981. Not only did he receive his mechanics inspection license in July, he also got his license to sell vehicles in August. For many years he worked at his garage as a mechanic building his customer base. His son started working for him 1990 and is now part owner of the business.
In 1988, an opportunity arose for him to haul fuel for Refiners Transport, who later became Bulk Material Inc., out of Duncansville. He worked at BMI for seven years, and after the company went out of business he became semi-retired at the age of sixty. These extra years that he worked added on to his pension in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union.
My grandfather will turn eighty years old this year, and he still goes to the garage every morning around 7:30 a.m. He faithfully has a coffee break with some of his friends who stop in every day. With the ever-changing auto industry, my grandfather had to learn about the new computerized automobiles and the new auto emissions testing program. He still helps around the business now and works on vehicles, mostly trucks and fire trucks. He has many of the same customers as he did when he first opened for business. My grandmother calls him the janitor because he is always cleaning up and doing all of the repairs and maintenance on the building.
My love and admiration for him comes from how he treats his family, friends, and customers. He always finds time to attend the sporting events of his grandchildren and has sat through many in the rain and snow. He never forgets to give us a hug and tell us what a great job we did, or how to improve for the next game. I’ll always remember how he raises his glass for a toast on Christmas Eve and says how thankful he is for his family, as his eyes swell up with tears.