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Auto Salvage King Relished Longtime Role

Jerry Pelham is known as the salvage king of the midsouth. There may be no other man in Tennessee who has bought more wrecked or junk vehicles then he has. Jerry has been in the business for half a century and a local neighbor was questioned how many cars does he think Jerry purchased through his business career? A question he couldn’t hazard a guess to. Jerry opened up Pelham’s Auto Salvage in 1958 when he was only 14 years old. The motor madness began with a junker 1949 Ford that he purchased for $40. Jerry added “It was rusted out and didn’t run too good,” said Pelham, who these days drives a 2005 Chevy pick-up. “I bought it wrecked and fixed it. I don’t buy no new ones.”

“I buy so many cars,” he said. “These cars we’re gonna drain the oil and put ’em up on rims. They’ll be new models and old models. We’ll charge a $2 fee to go in. You can just go out there and get what you want and come in and pay real cheap prices. We’ll start with 400 to 500 cars. I think the lot will hold 1,000 cars, and we’ll rotate ’em out and put fresh ones in,” Pelham grew up a half mile away from his salvage lot, about three miles south of Woodbury on U.S. Highway 53.

The eldest of six children born to Noah and Alice Pelham, the 68-year-old Cannon County native learned from his mechanically minded father who worked on appliances and televisions.

He ventured into the salvage and scrap business when he was 14 on March 13, 1958, when he bought his original business license for three bucks.

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Summarized by: Angel Cruz

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