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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Anonymous said...

Yes! Even better, open an old-fashioned full-service gas station, I HATE pumping my own gas and would love the free I window squeegee (?) and under the hood check. NASCAR has some vintage pumps--think Dale Jr has on on his Whiskey River ranch.

Very cool idea! "The man with the Texaco Star"!

julie haessly said...

I remember back in the 60's and early 70's most of the gas stations in our family were family owned or at least locally owned and full service. There are no full service gas stations in our area anymore.

Great article Guy!!!