Mutual Respect

Devoe Moore values an honorable man



Bruce Palmer

Amos Dickey is the implicitly trusted keeper of the keys at Devoe Moore’s Tallahassee Auto Museum, where he maintains a vast collection of vintage cars in running condition. Dickey first went to work for Moore 52 years ago and has no plans to retire.

 

Amos Dickey shared with me a story about the time he confounded his boss by changing the lock on a door behind which he carried out a little activity that he intended to remain unseen.

I am not at liberty to tell that story. 

Mr. Dickey beseeched me to leave it alone, said he would do anything for me in exchange for my agreement to respect his wishes. It momentarily occurred to me that I might be able to work him for a Batmobile, but I merely assured him that his secret was good with me.

His manner and kindness were such that I was powerless to cause him any consternation.

Dickey has been Devoe Moore’s right-hand man at the Tallahassee Auto Museum — the home of several Batmobiles — since the place opened in May 1996. And, for decades prior to that, beginning 52 years ago, Dickey worked for Moore reconditioning brakes and clutches for resale. He had an innate affinity for the work; as a kid, he was his neighborhood’s bicycle mechanic. 

Dickey was doing mechanical work for Elberta Crate & Box Co. near Lake Jackson when a manager there suggested that he might improve his lot by speaking to Moore. Dickey is not the type of man to change jobs without provocation, but when he learned that the often absent chief mechanic at Elberta was knocking down $2.85 an hour to Dickey’s $1.85, he had all the motivation he needed.

“I quit and told the folks at Elberta that I was going into business for myself,” Dickey recalled. “Because if I had told them I was going to work for Mr. Moore or another business, they would have tried to stop me.”

Eventually, in 1994, health issues including a blood clot that had lodged in his neck forced Moore to get out of the parts business, which survives today as Fleet Supply on State 20. Doctors deemed the job too sedentary and prescribed that Moore stay on his feet and remain active. The prescription worked.

Dickey, meanwhile, stayed on with what had become Fleet Supply, doing hydraulics 
work on dump trucks and clutch repairs, until the museum opened.

You take two ladies, they can’t go three days without arguing. But Mr. Moore, we’ve been together 52 years and we hadn’t had an argument yet.”
— Amos Dickey 

Always, he has been trusted to open the museum when Moore is away and, says the boss, he is unfailingly on time. The place — apart from Moore’s office — is immaculate thanks to Dickey’s efforts and, remarkably, all but one of the 160 (or so) cars on display cranks when you turn the key. They include a Duryea Motor Wagon powered by an 1892 prototype engine.

The non-starter is a Studebaker that figured in the 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. (Preston Tucker was an inventor who strived to create a futuristic car for the masses; only 51 were manufactured before Tucker was overcome by fake news and a fraud case in which he was exonerated.)

“The Studebaker was made to look like a Tucker and they used it in stunts and it’s all bent up,” Dickey explains.

Says Moore, “We used to fire up our cars all the time, but employees got to complaining about the fumes here in the building.”

Dickey has the key to everything, Moore points out, including the cash register.

“He is one of the most trustworthy people you are ever going to run into,” Moore beamed. “I sold an item a while back for a fair amount of money and the buyer paid me in cash, which I placed in the back of one of our cars. Dickey found it there and brought it to me and said, ‘Mr. Moore, this must be yours.’ Now, how many people would do that?”

“You take two ladies, they can’t go three days without arguing,” Dickey offers. “But Mr. Moore, we’ve been together 52 years and we hadn’t had an argument yet.”

Moore started a retirement fund for Dickey many years ago and impressed upon him the value of education. In response, Dickey, who quit school after ninth grade, became a saver and all of his children — two boys and two girls — earned college degrees. (Dickey, himself, had 20 siblings and eight half-siblings. Family reunions, conducted from time to time on the 20 acres near the Georgia line where Dickey and his wife Carrie live, attract upwards of 800 people.)

“Dickey was born to a huge family at a time when people didn’t make much money, but he has done all right for himself through hard work, honesty and being wise,” Moore compliments his friend and colleague. “Today, too many young people don’t understand what it takes to be successful. They want the paycheck without doing the work.”

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