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'Nothing but good'
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Jack Puckett sold Puckett Motors in November of 1983.

Jack Puckett sat smiling in his office on Friday afternoon.

“Man, everything that’s happened to me over the years has been nothing but good,” he said laughing.

In this instance, he’s referring to catching the mumps 10 weeks into a 12-week auto mechanics course at Ft. Benning in 1944.

“All my buddies were shipped off to Germany and I had to start the course all over again,” said Puckett. “I shipped out from Vancouver headed for New Caledonia on a ship with 1,700 other guys and we stopped in Honolulu for supplies. They took two people off of that ship and I was one of them. I stayed in Hawaii the rest of the time.”

Puckett spent the remainder of World War II at a replacement depot in Wahiawa. “All troops that went down under stopped there for processing and all the troops coming back from down under stopped there, too.”

Puckett was discharged in the middle of August of 1946 and was enrolled at the University of Tennessee two weeks later pursuing a degree in business.

Puckett pledged the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and lived in the PKA house at 1305 W. Clinch Avenue in Fort Sanders near the UT campus.

“The Phi Sig house was in the next house up on Laurel and I kept beer in my room. I think beer was a dime a bottle and I’d sell it for a quarter,” said Puckett. “I’d get ice down at Atlantic Icehouse. I had a little Coca-Cola cooler and I kept beer in that. I just left my door open and people would just come in and help themselves. They’d write their name on a sheet of paper I kept there and put slash marks for however many beers they got. In all the time I did that not one person failed to pay me what they owed.”

Puckett returned to McMinnville in 1949 and began working in the garage at Puckett Motors. The dealership was located across the street from Magness Library at that time. 

“Man, I did everything,” Puckett said. “I greased cars, fixed flats, washed cars. Anything that was to be done I did it.”

Jack Puckett was born in Alexandria in 1926 and moved to McMinnville when his father bought the Ford dealership from Jack Porter in 1938.

The dealership moved to West Main Street in late 1949. They had a drawing to give away a brand new Ford as a way to celebrate the grand opening. 

“Mr. Cantrell that lived out on Smithville Road won that car. I can’t remember his first name but he lived up near that road that went to Seven Springs,” said Puckett. 

Puckett became general manager of Puckett Motors in 1950 and stayed in the car business until he sold the dealership.

“I sold it in November of ’83,” Puckett said. “I went to the pasture then and I haven’t had a bad day since.”

Puckett bought a condominium in 1990 on Marco Island, Fla., and drives down every winter. “I go down to Marco the first week of January and I come back the last week of March,” said Puckett. 

Puckett makes several trips a week to Murfreesboro receiving treatments for a basal cell carcinoma. The doctor had originally estimated it would take 25 sessions to successfully treat it but now they think they can stop after 20. Puckett finished his 15th treatment last week.

The doctor warned Puckett that he would probably experience some pain from the treatments and wrote him a prescription for pain medication.

“I filled that prescription but I haven’t had to take even one,” Puckett said proudly.

Puckett stays active and gets around very well for a man of 94. He drives himself to Murfreesboro several times a week and to and from Florida every winter. He golfs every Thursday at 9 a.m. and he mows his lawn once a week. “I hire somebody to do the weed eating and trim the hedges, but I keep lawn cut back,” said Puckett.

When asked what he thinks is the secret to his long, healthy life, a mischievous smile spread across his face.

“Every time somebody asks me that I tell them it’s good, clean living,” Puckett said with a gleam in his eye.