THEN & NOW: George Bignal and other unsung heroes

It was shortly after midnight, the day before Christmas, 1929. Heavy snow and sleet pummeled roadways. George Bignal, who drove a tow truck for Chamberlain’s Central Garage in Great Barrington, answered a call to aid a stranded motorist just south of Stockbridge.

Route 7 was a dangerous, icy mess. After rendering assistance, Bignal began the treacherous trip home. With the storm intensifying, the truck’s windshield quickly iced over.

Bignal stuck his head out the window to improve his view, but immediately struck a tree. He was severely injured and died a few hours later. Mr.

Bignal’s tragic story was recently rediscovered, and there are plans underway to posthumously induct him into the Hall of Fame at the International Towing and Recovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His name will be prominently placed on an impressive “Wall of the Fallen” monument. Shown here are several vintage tow trucks that served the southern Berkshires over the decades.

The photograph above features the 1948 snubnose wrecker operated by Spaulding Chevrolet for many years. The next two photographs spotlight Dempsey’s Garage tow trucks – a 1930s modified Cadillac touring car, and their 1950s GMC truck.

Dempsey’s tow truck, 1930s modified Cadillac touring car. Photo courtesy Gary LeveilleTHEN & NOW: George Bignal and other unsung heroesDempsey’s tow truck, 1950s GMC.

Photo courtesy Gary Leveille

Tow truck drivers still rescue troubled motorists on a regular basis.

One of the most helpful around town is operated by Steve’s Garage on State Road, as shown in the “Now” photograph below.

THEN & NOW: George Bignal and other unsung heroesSteve’s Garage tow truck.

Photo courtesy Gary Leveille