Remember the scene in the movie American Graffiti, where
John Milner is cruising the streets, runs into a car full of
girls, and asks if any of them want a ride. Well, truth
being stranger than fiction that is exactly how Jim and Pat
Defew first met.
Fast forward to 1968, and we find Jim and Pat Defew seeking
out a living by punching the time clock at an aluminum chair
factory in their hometown of Benton, Kentucky. When Jim and
Pat were first married, they set up house in an old school
bus. As funds became available, they moved up to a place
that included a burnt house and a small one-car garage. They
tore down what was left of the house, and purchased a
well-used house trailer. The garage was left standing.
They came into possession of a slightly used motorcycle by
scrimping, horse trading, and generally just being in the
right place at the right time. Jim decided that what their
new motorcycle needed was a custom paint job. There was only
one problem; there was no money available for the new custom
paint job Jim felt the motorcycle needed.
Jim had grown up just two blocks from the local
Auto Body Repair Shop. Jim and the owner of the shop rode
motorcycles together, but the owner was not a custom
painter. Jim got a quick lesson on paint preparation and
application, borrowed an air compressor, a paint gun and
some leftover paint and painted his bike over Thanksgiving
in his one car garage. It took him four tries, but it
finally turned out the way he wanted it.
The shop owner saw the work Jim had done and he wanted Jim
to paint his motorcycle. One day they were at a bike shop,
with their newly painted bikes, and someone saw the
motorcycles and asked, "Who painted that?" A few hours
later, Jim and Pat had their first job as custom painters.
Jim and Pat Defew still live on the same piece of property
where they painted that first motorcycle. The used trailer
is gone, replaced by a modest sized, custom, cedar home. A
son, Jeff, was added to the family. Jeff grew up in the
shop, first playing, then learning, then working, and now
handling every day operations of the Body Repair part of the
family business, which has become a full service Custom
Painting and Body Repair facility.
The one car garage was first added onto, then replaced with
a metal building in the back yard, which in turn was added
onto several times. In 2006 the decision was made to move up
the road, all of a quarter of a mile, and into an ultra
modern, state of the art facility.
Jim, Pat, and Jeff still build and custom paint motorcycles.
They also work on Street Rods, Trucks, Race Cars, Golf
Carts, and many other items that customers bring in the
doors of their shop. Items have included everything from a
mailbox to an artificial leg, and everything in between.
'Canvases' have included the dance floor of a nightclub; the
interior of a skating rink, airplanes, semi trucks and
trailers, and the list goes on to this day. The results upon
completion are generally far above and beyond what the owner
of the 'canvas' envisioned before becoming acquainted with
the talents of Jim, Pat and Jeff Defew.
People still see the Defew's work and ask, "Who painted
that?" Only today, those people are just as likely to be
reading a Magazine, seeing it at some National event, or
driving down the streets of the small town of Benton,