Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Service Station Mechanic

This picture was taken in 1940, and shows a service station attendant. I love the big smile this man has, and I am sure he gave one to every customer he ever served. I can remember growing up in the 1960's filling stations still had attendants come out and fill your car, wash your windshield, check your oil, and check your tire pressure. The attendant would usually have a piece of bubble gum for the kids.

Businesses have become so impersonal these days. I have to admit I miss the days when things moved at a little slower pace. People had a lot less, but there was much more of a sense of community among people and businesses in a neighborhood.


  1. Growing up in the 40's and 50's, I remember things just slightly differently. The corner gas station (during the day) usually had two people working there. There was the pump jockey, or attendant, whose job was just as you describe it. The other fellow was the mechanic. The mechanic had repair skills, but (usually) no customer skills. He would never shake your hand because his was always covered in grease. He could fix anything on your car if you just stayed out of the way.

    The fellow in your picture was the pump jockey. No self-respecting mechanic would be seen wearing a coin-changer! Anyway it would scratch the fender when he leaned over the work on the car.

  2. It's pictures like this that make me so proud to be an American and thankful that my parents chose to move here. I am a little sad to see such personable service slowly fade away, but I'm convinced that it's still rich and alive; at least that's what the road trip told me.

    Maybe this is the cost of our changing standard of living. I'm not so sure if life was better in the old days, but it was certainly simpler and more genuine. I remember Reagan mentioned, in his radio memoirs, that life was still harder with higher infant mortality, dangerous work, limited transportation, and other things. And that we should be thankful for our progress, but I can't help but feel sad that it has to come at a personal cost.

  3. Even in the 70s I recall the gas station attendant came out and washed our windows, checked the oil and tire pressure. There were two brothers who owned the station, and one was the attendant. At the time we were under 10 years old and he would play a game with us as he circled our station wagon washing the windows. My sister or I would try to guess which window he would wash next and he would try to trick us. We hopped around the back of that car and over the seat back to try to keep up with him. That station had a full service garage and I took my cars there until they closed it in the 90s. The smell of the garage was strong and pleasant at the same time as intimidating to a young woman. They had the same mechanics for years and we trusted them with everything, knew their names and could get them on the phone to discuss the issues with our cars. It does make nostalgic because there was a definite pride of work, and also we respected these people as hard workers. There was not a sense that they were less than or lower on the totem pole than us. I don't see that as much now - mechanics are sometimes treated poorly - "just a mechanic" as it were.

  4. You folks are forgetting that those pump attendants has to breathe leaded fumes all day. Many suffered permanent brain damage if they did it for long enough. Sorry, but not everything was good in the good old days.


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