Car Talk: The Old Filling Stations

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This picture depicts what most of us old timers grew up with. We did not love them back then as they were part of our daily lives. Now that these type of filling stations are nearly gone, we realize what they stood for and what we are losing.

Most were gathering spots for guys to hang out, chew the fat, and much more. Generally the stations had a small grocery section with soda, chips, cigars, beer, and so on. Some places had a small bay or two for minor auto repairs and usually they were family run. Now keep in mind these places were not busy like we see today at places like Speedway Gas where you can buy nearly anything except car repairs. I am always shocked when I go into one of these super gas station centers and the pumps are full, the store is busy, and the place is just buzzing.

Places like what is represented in the picture were at a slower pace, were off the main road because it was the main road. Also funny is how things in the picture are worth so much to collectors today. Big money is paid for gas pumps like these in any condition, the Eco air meters, and any oil cans, dispensers or signs. What we thought was just a gas station then, has now has turned into a hot spot for buyers and collectors.

The collectors market
I live in an area where every year there is a big steam engine show and one of the members sets up a gas station like the one featured here. It is complete down to every detail. Crowds gather at his display in awe as most of the younger generation have never seen what a filling station looked like or how they operated.
I was one of those kids that grew up working in a place like this. Pumping the gas, washing windshields, checking the oil, putting air in the tires, emptying an ash tray, providing directions, helping a kid with a flat on his bike, sweeping up, counting the drawer every night, dipping the tanks for a reading, cleaning the gas pumps, shoveling the parking lot and more. Hey, it was $2.10 an hour. Where else could I go and make that kind of money and see all the cool cars?
I vowed when I was young I was never going to work at a McDonalds or any other fast food joint and I never did. But, how ironic that when I was in high school there was a waiting list to work at McDonalds! Today, they cannot drag anyone in to work there. I was better off in my element of grease, oil, cars, and whatever else drove in. Oh, those were the days.

By Mark Weisseg

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