Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mechanic


Today's picture features a Garage Mechanic from the 1940's. How many of you remember when the Gasoline Stations were owned by individuals, who actually cared about your business. I can remember when I was growing up, we would buy our gas at Mr. Gay's station in town. When you pulled in, your car rolled over a cord that caused a loud bell to ring, Mr. Gay would run out to the car, and recognizing you, would already know what type of gas you wanted, and what amount. He would start filling the car up, and as this was happening, he would clean the front and back windshields. He would check the pressure in your tires, and then he would check the oil. All the time he would carry on a little banter with my mother and father. He would always ask them, "Who's the Boss", and would tease my dad that maybe my Mom was the boss. Everyone would get a big kick out of the joking. Then, with the windows cleaned, the car full of gas, the tires properly inflated, and the oil or other fluids topped off if needed, he would give the kids in the car a piece of bubble gum, and send us on our way. I think a really precious piece of America was lost when these types of shops were forced to close by the big corporate, impersonal gas stations of today.

17 comments:

  1. The fine state of Oregon has made it a law that you cannot pump your own gas. So, this type of service still exists.

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  2. Good for the Fine State of Oregon.

    I'ee bet that stops all those drive-offs that happen at self serve stations. I know a lot of stations make you prepay or use a credit card, but a lot of them don't. And with the price of gas it happens a lot more than you can care to guess.
    R

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  3. I'm guessing Oregon has a powerful gas station lobby?

    We had to have a law changed which prohibted self-serve dispensing. It had been on the books probably since gas stations first came to be. It was actually quite a fight to repeal it as I recall.

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  4. I like the change-maker thing on his belt -- haven't seen one of those in years!

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  5. When I was in high school I worked in a gas station (early 1960's) very much like the one PJM described. I loved working there because I got to deal with cars all day long. I still prefer doing all those small maintenance procedures myself, but I, too, miss the full service stations. New Jersey law prohibits customers from pumping their own gas, but it's not the same as full service.

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  6. Up here in the Great White North, most of our stations are full service. Well in Saskatchewan anyway.

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  7. In the 70s we did our gas and car business with George's EXXON. Mr George was relatively young and did the usual oil changes, wheel balancing (literally) and other light repairs. The thing that made him special to me was that he knew all of his customers by name and took a ginuine interest in each of us. He would give my daughters small gifts on their birthdays, for example. The real value of this relationship for our family was the we had a friend in a rather rural small town in a cold community that treated newcomers (less than one generation) like lepers.

    I was required to travel over a six county district almost every month leaving my family at home for 2 - 3 days at a time. I worried that if something happend at home, I could not be there to help the family. One day while I was away the family car broke down and the wife was stuck with a young girl and a baby. No one stopped to help her so she called Mr George from a nearby house. He immediately came and got the girls and took them to his station and arranged for a wrecker to pick up the car and bring it to him.

    He had it fixed that afternoon and the girls were on their way. Later, when I came to settle up with him he would not accept any money for anything but the repair. Needless to say, this relationship was nurture over the next seven years until we got sent to Austin.

    I had occasion to return to that small town about six years later and, yes, Mr George was still there and had expanded his business to include a U-Haul franchise and an auto parts store. I felt good about his success.

    There are fewer and fewer of these kinds of people around now days. now it is give me your money and Next! A real shame.

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  8. Yep. I remember the Texaco station we used to frequent in Wyoming. The owner was a friend of the family. When Texaco took over the station and started shuffling people around, the soul went out of it. Interestingly, the neighborhood mechanic in Houston also happened to sell Texaco, though more as a sideline.

    I don't know that the attitude is "Give me your money." so much as "Give me my money." It's subtle, but the attitude is the difference. I know as a Kirby Sales Trainee, we were always told "The customer has your money. It's up to you to get it from them." That's not an attitude that I could ever master.

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  9. Amen.
    There really would be a niche for a full service station that would charge extra for the service. Senior Citizen would line up for that.

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  10. Back when a service station was exactly that - a place to get service.

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  11. We have one station in town that at leasts pumps the gas for you, and will wash the windshied if you ask them nicely. They charge .02 a gallon over the self serve station prices. They are busy all the time, I know my wife goes there when I not with her to pump the gas.
    R

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  12. I love this photo, it brings back many fond memories.

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  13. I have similar memories of the service station. I had a friend whose family ran a Texaco station. His grandfather wore a tie every day and a hat with a star on it. I remember that the older drivers would order their gas by the gallons and us young whippersnappers would order by the dollar amount. And of course there were giveaways at times. A free tide chart for the beaches or a glass.

    Those are great memories too bad it has disappeared.

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  14. I have a 1950s "O" scale train layout that includes a service station, complete with a man washing a car's windshield. I had quite a time explaining that concept to my then-12 year old grandson. "You mean they did al that for FREE?"

    You betcha!

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  15. i think there must only be a hand full of those attened sevice stations left in the whole of the UK.You'd think with petrol (gas) at 1.20 per litre - $8 per gallon!!! we'd get some sort of service but most even charge for air!

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  16. I grew up in a very small community outside of Tulsa. We had 2 churches, a school (K-8), a drive-in cafe, a barber shop and 3 mom & pop grocery stores/gas stations. In 1970, my dad (age 62) and brother bought the big DX one and I worked there stocking shelves, cleaning, clerking and pumping gas. My dad was there every morning to open at 6:00 and washed down the pad (concrete drive). When the price of gas started going up, it presented quite a problem. The manufacturer of the pumps never expected the price of gasoline to go over 49.9 - when they bought the store the price was less than 35 cents a gallon. Because the pumps couldn't be set at 50 or more, we had to set them for the price of a 1/2 gal. Boy, did that cause some problems!

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  17. Amazing keep the pictures and stories coming :)

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