Rerun: Service Stations

George W. Eaker Sr. Cape Girardeau Phillips 66 StationService stations played a big part in our young lives. I didn’t rush right out to get my license: I turned 16 on March 24, but didn’t take my test until a hot summer day when, after acing the written test and doing OK on the driving part, I bumped a pylon while parallel parking.

That was usually an automatic failure, but the examiner took one look at the sweat pouring off me, then at the 29-foot-long, 17-foot-wide 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon with power nothing and said, “Kid, in this car, that’s close enough. You pass.”

Because I was working at The Jackson Pioneer and The Missourian, I was making good money for a high school or college kid, and I didn’t sweat pulling into the pump and saying, “Fill it with high test.”

Pretty amazing in these days of pump-it-yourself that you’d ding the bell pulling into the station and one to three guys would come running out to fill your tank, check your oil, air up your tires and even vacuum the interior, all at no charge.

Click on the links to see more photos and the original stories with a lot more details and comments.

I usually hit the Star Service Station

Star Service Station Opening 12-02-1965 The Southeast Missourian - Google News Archive SearchThe Star station at the corner of Broadway and Frederick got most of my business. It was right across the street from Nowell’s Camera Shop, and in the vicinity of where Wife-to-Be Lila worked at the Rialto, with Tony’s Pizza Parlor across from her and The Missourian down a few blocks. That was pretty much my whole life right there.

Thoni’s had the cheapest gas

Thoni's lot 10-26-2009 6416Thoni’s Oil Company, out on South Kingshighway, almost always had the cheapest gas around – as low as 19.9 cents during one price war – but I bought into the rumors that the gas might be “watered.” It probably wasn’t, but I wasn’t willing to take the chance.

You’d never know there was a station there today.

Back in 1952, the fact that Richard Thoni FLEW into Cape from Nashville for the opening of the gas station and then FLEW back on the same day attracted as much interest in The Missourian as the new business.

Most had mechanics

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauMost of the stations had one or two bays where they could do minor and major repair work, including putting on tire chains when the roads were bad.

Reader’s Digest was full of stories about scams motorists had to watch out for on the highways. Unscrupulous mechanics would slice hoses while they were pretending to check fluid levels; others would spray oil on hot engine parts so frightening smoke would billow out from under the hood.

There might have been some bad mechanics in Cape, but I think they were essentially honest.

32¢ Gas; 29¢ Smokes

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968The Bonded Station in Athens was the Ohio equivalent of the Star Station in Cape. It was just down the road from the photo department and the guys who worked there were friendly.

Since we both worked long, late hours, I spent a lot of time in there kibitzing and catching up on local gossip that might turn into a story.

Scott City fire

Scott City service station fireA fire down at the service station is the big news of the day when you live in a small town. Just about everybody in Scott City must have turned out to inspect, analyze and speculate about what happened.

A reader said she thought it might have been the Saveway Gas Station, but the negative sleeves didn’t say.

Pete Koch’s Sinclair

Big tire accident Pete Koch Sinclair 11-20-1965Pete Koch’s Sinclair station showed up in the background of photos taken when a 700-pound tire broke off a city motorgrader and went rolling down Broadway until it bounced off Mrs. Diane Kincaid’s car.

Lynn Latimore with ’55 Ford Fairlane

Shell station man w carLynn Latimore, who was also photographed at the Star station, is leaning on what readers said was a 1955 Ford Fairlane. He was at a Shell station on North Kingshighway.

Readers filled in lots of detail about the neighborhood where it was taken, Lynn, and cars in general.

First car: 1904; first crash: 1910

Ford Groves 10-03-1929 The Southeast Missourian

I did a piece in 2010 about Cape’s early car history. It was filled with all kinds of interesting (to me) factoids. You can read more by following the link.

  • First car theft: Oct. 21, 1905. Vince Chapman left the car in front of the Broadway Mercantile Co. “Manufacturers apparently thought there was about as much temptation for the predatory criminal to steal an automobile as to steal a box car or a steamboat and had not provided locks.” There is no indication that the car was recovered. It is estimated that there were perhaps 20 cars in Cape at this time.
  • Fastest time Cape to Jackson: July 9, 1906, Joe Wilson drove the 10 miles from Cape to Jackson in a record time of 25 minutes, “probably the shortest time in which had ever been transversed up to that time.”
  • First Tin Lizzie: George McBride brought the first “Henry” into Cape in May of 1909.
  • First garage: A.J. Vogel opened the first garage on Jan. 10, 1910. It had a show room big enough to hold six cars, a washing and cleaning shop and a repair shop.
  • First auto license tax: Dec. 6, 1909. $5.
  • First Missourian auto ad: Oct. 15, 1909. A.J. Vogel, a farm machinery salesman and experienced mechanic placed a 4-inch single column ad: “The Vogel Motor Car Co., 419 Broadway, will be ready for business in 10 days. Come and see us.”
  • First auto crash: July 21, 1910. Esaw Hendrickson, a Delta farmer, got off a street car betwen the H&H Building and the Idan-Ha Hotel and stepped in front of a car driven by City Councilman Joe T. Wilson. He was knocked down and run over, but his injuries were not serious.
  • First auto vs bicycle: the day after Mr. Hendrickson’s accident, a car driven by R.B. Oliver, Jr., and a bicycle ridden by Fred Frenzel, a Western Union messenger boy, collided at the corner of Broadway and Spanish. “The boy was not hurt much, but his brand-new wheel was demolished.”
  • First funeral procession: Oct. 30, 1916, when the body of Charles E. Booth, a Frisco fireman, was laid to rest. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and the Odd Fellows asked Booth’s friends to bring automobiles for the funeral procession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Had Snow in the ’60s

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauYou folks are tired of looking at snow and ice, I’m sure, but this is a reminder we had snow back in the 1960s. We had less snow than Cape has gotten in the last few winters, but I think we were better prepared for it. More cars had snow tires and it was common to put chains on the drive wheels back then.

I think this might have been taken at one of the stations where The Missourian would drop off our bundles of papers. It might have been a Gulf. The press would spit out the papers in batches of 50 or 100; they would be handed off to a binding machine that would put a blank wrap of paper around the stack, then twist a thick copper wire tightly around it to hold them together. A sheet of paper with your route number on it would let you know which bundles belonged to you.

When I first started carrying papers at age 12, I had to work to untwist the copper wire to get it off my bundle. When I got a little older and little stronger, I could grab the bundle under the wrapper paper, give it a hard yank and break the copper wire. When winter came around, the station owner would ask us to save the copper wire for him so he could use it to hold tire chains on his customers’ cars.

La-Petite Motel

Snow and Ice around Cape Girardeau La-Petite MotelA lot of these negatives are pretty scratched and spotted up. Just pretend the spots are snow flakes. The 1968 City Directory says the La-Petite Motel was at 1301 North Kingshighway and was owned or managed by Charles and Lorraine Scheller.

Human-powered snow cleaning

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThe sidewalks around Central High School were cleaned by guys with shovels, not fancy snowblowers. The fact that they are being cleaned leads me to believe school was in session, snow or no snow.

A long throw

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI don’t know if he’s shoveling out the stairwell or just breaking off overhanging snow.

Must have been a windy storm

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThis snow storm must have had some wind with it to pile up drifts like these.

Central’s basement

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI had forgotten how they built Central’s basement to be able to have windows to let light in.

Hilly neighborhood

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI tried to read the mailboxes, but the letters were too small. I don’t know where this neighborhood was, but it was hilly and the snow didn’t have many tracks.

Out in the country

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThis house looks familiar, but I can’t put a name or a face to it. Anybody? You can watch some 8mm home movies of snow here.

As usual, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

 

 

32¢ Gas; 29¢ Smokes

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968Photographers do a lot of cruising around waiting for magic to strike, so we burn a lot of gas. When I was on the street, I drove about 24,000 miles a year.

Even in “retirement” I logged 8,429 miles last year to, from and around Cape to produce this blog. That adds up to a lot of time at gas stations. When I was in Athens, Ohio, in February, I took a drive down West Union Street, but the Bonded station selling gas for 32.9 was just a memory. I’m not a smoker, so I didn’t care that you could buy a pack of cigarettes for less than 30 cents when I took these photos on a chilly October 22, 1968.

McCoy and Hoisington ready to serve

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968D. Hoisington and John McCoy were ready to hop out with their coin changers on their belts to pump your gas, check your fluids, air up your tires and wash your windows. I bought a lot of fill-ups from those guys because they stayed open late, their prices were good and they were just down the street from the photo lab. (For the record, I didn’t remember their names. They were wearing name tags.) You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Not like today’s convenience stores

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968Dealer French McCormick ran a clean, but sparse station. You could buy gas, antifreeze, STP oil treatment, a can of oil and some cancer sticks, but you couldn’t walk out with Slurpees, nachos or lottery tickets. If you had a dime, you could make a call from the pay phone on the wall.

An outdoor rack

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968Let me tell you, doing an oil change with a cold Ohio wind blowing up your skirt couldn’t have been any fun.

Confusing Wallace message

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968I can’t figure out if this customer and Hoisington are George Wallace supporters are not. The Jeep has a sticker supporting Wallace for “Furer.” I don’t know if they considered that a good thing or a bad thing.

“If you liked Hitler…”

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968Hoisington sports two buttons on his uniform. One, probably provided by his employer, reads “They used to call me Fumblefingers before I changed to Bonded.” The second, smaller one, says, “If you liked Hitler, you’ll love Wallace.”

Law ‘n’ Order big

Bonded Service Station - W Union - 10-22-1968Wallace’s Law ‘n” Order message was well received by locals who were fed up with the hippies and radicals at the university. Wallace bumper stickers weren’t uncommon in the rural areas.

Service Station stories

Like I said, I spent a lot of time at gas stations.

 

 

St. Mary’s Safety Patrol

It took a minute to figure out which school safety patrol these boys belonged to. The gas station and houses looked a little familiar, but it didn’t have the feel of Broadway about it. I like that you can see the driver in the car on the left and that the girl’s right shoestring is flapping.

St. Mary’s Mass schedule

The frame with the St. Mary’s Cathedral school in the background helped nail it down. It was the corner of Sprigg and William that I’ve written about before.

Sherer’s Mobil Service Station

The sign above the door says S.H. “Bud” Sherer Dealer. (It might be “Bub.” It’s hard to tell at the angle).

Station and houses are gone

This April 17, 2011, aerial shows that the station and the houses on the corner are all gone.

Photo gallery of St. Mary’s School Safety Patrol

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. Here was Trinity Lutheran School’s Safety Patrol, including a video.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.