Muscle Cars

Classic Car Service Station Memories

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By Mark Weisseg

Boy, do I miss the old days of the gas service station.
I can remember my Dad wheeling into a Clark gas station on the south side of Chicago. A guy well dressed in his uniform came out and asked Dad if he wanted regular gas or the Ethel. Remember, all lead gas back then. As the tank was being filled, the guy washed the front windshield and Dad would buy his cigarettes which were placed in a big tray at the pumps. We would stick our heads out the windows as the gas had a really cool smell to it. The attendant would always ask if he needed to check the oil and pointed to the free Eco air machine if we needed air in the old bias ply tires. Dad would pay cash as only rich people had credit cards in those days and off we would go.

Today, few service stations survive. I visited one in Boulder City, Nevada a couple of times but it’s a shell of its former self. They do emission testing there now and car washes but, the building still looks like an old service station. These buildings are fading fast and when I see one empty, I cringe. Usually, they were two bay buildings, bathrooms on the outside of the building, an office area and a very small parts room.

Cherish the old service stations as we all have fond memories of them. A lot of us have worked at these old service stations as gas jockeys. I sure did and we worked hard. It was a gathering spot and a great way to learn from the old men. I froze my rear end off in the winter, sweated like a horse in the summer, had grease all over myself and the hours were long.

The old format has morphed into today’s self-service gas stations and mini marts or shops. We can now stop and not just fill up on gas, but buy many things. It’s more convenient, more sanitised, also some of the character is now lacking and that personal service.

If you see these building I urge you to take a picture as they are fading quickly.

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