Rushville Republican

Columns

August 20, 2013

Gas stations used to be service stations

Recently, I figured out that if the gas gauge on my truck said EMPTY it was pretty much time to find a gas station. So I went to town, went into what I call the Concession Stand to prepay as I preferred to use that old-fashioned item cash. After paying and small talk I went back to the pump, took the gas cap off, and chose the correct octane. I also inwardly smiled at the price thinking of the time in my life when the cost per gallon was what was after the 3 on the pump. I then dutifully pumped the required amount of fuel into my tank and was surprised when I saw the gas gauge that it had not moved as much as I had hoped.

If my windows needed washing I was the one to do it. If I needed to check the oil, again up to me. How about the tire pressure? You know everyone in the know says that is important to gas mileage. Yep, once again up to you.

This brought back memories of the summer that I worked for my cousin Bill Caldwell at his Sinclair Station at Eighth and Main. Bill was an individual who was extremely persnickety about how things were to be done. He pumped gas, changed oil, greased the car, washed (by hand) the car and did minor mechanical work. There were usually two people there: Bill and someone like me. I was the one denoted to pump the gas when required while Bill did the major work needed on his customer’s vehicles. If the ringer said there was a car at the pump I was the one to go and do my thing.

For each car that came in I would ask what octane, Ethyl or Regular? Then I would start the pump because usually they would want it filled up. While pumping I would wash the windshield, check the tire pressure and oil status and anything else the customer might like checked. I was to mention to the customer anything I might have noticed that needed attention, like a smooth tire. Then, if oil was needed I had to ask the customer about it and if they were wanted then I would fill up the required amount of oil. That oil came from a glass can with a metal top that was filled up each day from a 55 gallon drum of oil. I would then take the amount of cash required, go to the station and put it in the cash register. Not at all like what goes on today.

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