NORWICH – It has been 50 years since Annette Smith purchased her first car from Christman Motors. The former school teacher and Norwich resident remembers going to the dealership with the intention of trading in her car for something “bigger, better and heavier.” And she’ll never forget the eager young salesman, fresh out of high school, who helped her.
“He told me that he was going to sell me a car,” Smith said. And he did – a light blue 1960 Mercury Montclair with a dark blue top.
Tom Morrone, president of Christman Motors, remembers that car. Because it was the first new one he sold when he began working full-time for the dealership at age 18.
That car – the first of many Smith has purchased from him over the years – marked the start of a long, lucrative career for Morrone. This month, he celebrates 50 years at Christman’s.
The Norwich native says he knew he wanted to work for the dealership even in his pre-teen years. He recalls an afternoon when he and his friends were in 6th or 7th grade. They had wandered downtown during lunch, he said, and were stopped by Bill Hall of WCHN radio. The radio personality asked Morrone what he wanted to do when he grew up. He vividly remembers his response to that all important question.
“I told him, ‘I want to sell cars for Bob Christman,’” he said. “That’s the gospel truth.”