Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Idea for Closed Down Gas Stations

By Guy Sharwood, Groovy Reflections Team Member

First off I want to thank a good buddy I'll call "Alvin" for inspiring this yesterday.

Alvin and I were on the bus going southward, just gabbing and updating each other. I mentioned something about a Shell station--one of two I'm aware of--which has been closed down and fenced off for several years. Really disheartening to see them just sitting there wasting space. Alvin said something about likening them to museums.

I remembered the first gas station I ever saw go belly up and close. I was 15 and this was right at the end of the '60s when gas guzzling cars reigned supreme and one could pretty much see a station on each corner of a busy intersection--and some that weren't so busy. These days, not just because of the recession, but for a variety of reasons, it's an all too typical occurrence to see them fold and either be plowed down or changed into something else. The one I refer to has been a hamburger joint, Chinese restaurant and a thrift store over the years. It's a cigarette store currently. 

But in 1969, it was just a weird thing to see a gas station simply go out of business and close down. That corner now is completely devoid of stations.

Alvin got me to thinking of how great it would be if one of these vacant stations could be converted into some kind of museum devoted to gasoline and service stations and how they've changed over the years. 

I remember hearing a lot of chuckles when I first saw the original Back to the Future movie, where Marty is back in 1955 and saw four attendants, in full dress regalia, bouncing out to a single car to service it. Of course that would be a laugh riot in 1985, especially for those who weren't around back then. But I was a year old, and the producers weren't too far off. There was a lot more accuracy than we would see on shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, which just took too many liberties with that period. Even more so, perhaps, than the movie Grease.

But there are a lot of possibilities that would come to mind. Someone could refurbish an old gas pump from the '30s or '40s and make it look brand new. Have a docent dressed up like an attendant and pretend it's an earlier period. Old news clippings could be posted on the wall. Magazine advertisements. A soda pop machine. Possibly an HD television displaying videos of old gasoline commercials. Cans of oil stacked against one wall. Old photographs. 

It would be a nice thing to see. Of course many practical reasons exist why this wouldn't be feasible, but it would be so much better than the way these stations are now, just sitting there forever doing nothing.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Larry Tate's Porch

By Tim Armstrong, Groovy Reflections Team Member

When I was in the fifth grade in 1970 I had a lot of friends who I would also run into at the mall on weekends while our parents shopped for school clothes and such. I started to notice that they were wearing cool shoes and clothes that my mom always told me were too expensive for her to get for me (I had a younger brother and sister as well). 

When I insisted that she buy me a certain pair of really cool shoes, she gave me the dreaded ultimatum “If you want to wear the things that your friends are wearing, you’ll need to find a way to pay for them”.

I wasn’t making enough money mowing lawns in the neighborhood to buy shoes, or any clothes for that matter, so I had to come up with a plan. I contacted our local newspaper and sure enough, they were looking for delivery carriers. It was early morning delivery, about a half mile away in our North Hollywood California neighborhood. After a talk with the district manager and my parents, I started my carrier route on my green Schwinn.

I had to get up at 4:30 or 5:00 am to fold and rubber band the papers and put them in my carrier bags which I had wrapped around the handlebars. After consulting my route list, I rode off to deliver the daily news. It was a new world for me, dark with little traffic in the residential neighborhoods, and soon I could get my route done in about an hour and a half.

My mom had noticed that an address on my route was that of a friend of hers from church, and I was instructed to put the newspaper on her porch every morning. So, every morning after throwing a paper onto the driveway of the next door house, I would get off of my bike and walk up to my mom’s friend’s door and place a paper there.

One early morning I was startled, when after placing a paper at the door of my mom’s friend, a voice called out “Excuse me”. I turned and found myself looking at “Larry Tate” from Bewitched! 

Turned out he lived at the house next door and wanted to know why I was putting a paper on his neighbor’s porch and not his. I explained to him that the paper on the porch was for my mom’s friend. He said, “I’ll make you a deal. If you would be my friend, would you also put the newspaper on my porch?”  

We shook hands and even though the only time we talked after that is when I would go collect, “Larry Tate” aka David White received his paper on his porch every day that I had that route.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dumb Question?

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Someone far wiser than I once said “The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.” In most cases this is true, but alas oh wise one; Not always!  Looking back on things there has been a lot of dumb questions and answers in my life.

For example, parents: They try to be wise and impart their knowledge to their children but it doesn’t always work that way. Have you ever heard a parent ask a child “Would you like a spanking”? Think about it! How many answers to that are there? “Golly Gee Mom, that’d be just swell! And after that could I maybe go sit in a corner?” Of course the correct answer is “no”, but you knew that already, so why do we ask it?
A couple of other classics are, “How Many Times do I have to tell you?” Well obviously, at least once more! And of course there’s “Do you know how many hungry kids in China would love to have those vegetables?” Cool, can we mail them to them?

Of course there comes that day in every person that has a child’s life, when they realize they have become their parents! “Do I have to stop this car?” OMG! I’m Dad!  Exactly when did this happen?!

Of course you needn’t be a parent to ask a dumb question, there’s always the classic, “I’m going to Joe Public’s funeral today.” “Did he die?” No, we just thought it would be fun to bury him!

Other dumb questions fall into the category “Don’t Ask the Question If You Don’t Want the Answer!” It’s amazing how many people will go ahead and ask a question that has two possible answers and one of them has the potential to be devastating, the other is the one the person wants to hear. If you aren’t positive which one you’re going to get you probably shouldn’t ask. Please note this also falls into the dumb answer category!

“Does this dress make my butt look big?” The correct answer here is “Of course not dear!” Though do try to remember not to add, “It does that all by itself”!

Another example: During Olivia Newton-John’s peak of popularity my wife turned to me and said “I know you tease me a lot about Olivia, but if you had the chance to make love to her and you were still married to me, would you do it?”

Now, I’m not dumb. I knew what the correct answer was, but apparently I am stupid, because that isn’t the one I gave! What I said was “Yes Dear. Right there on the floor in front of you! Wouldn’t bother me a bit; in fact, I’d probably ask you to take pictures!”

Gotta admit it was the quietest couple of weeks this house has ever seen! In my defense, okay, I got no defense except: She Asked!

If there are no more questions, I’m gonna go work on my answers!

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