Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Filling stations plentiful in ‘30s

August 18, 2005

Can you believe that in the 1930s there were six filling stations within a three-block area between what is now Kansas Avenue and Mary Street? Along with selling gasoline, fixing flat tires was a big part of their income. The gas was hand-pumped up into a visible glass cylinder, which indicated the gallon marks. Then gravity allowed the gasoline to enter the tank of the car. It appeared that different gas companies had different colors of gas. Most employees had uniforms to wear.

From north to south on the west side of the highway (now the parking lot north of the Body Beautiful building) was a small station with an overhang that you could drive under. One of their promotions was giving away 8x10 photographs of movie stars and famous baseball players. I didn't buy gas then, but I pestered them until they gave me a photo of Robert Taylor and Babe Ruth.

The next gas pumps were by the street in front of Wendel's Garage. They did mechanical repairs and bodywork and also repaired radios, refrigerators and home appliances. Ernie and Arnold Wendel were brothers. Ernie was the repairman and Arnold was the body and fender man along with other repairs. He was great at matching colors.

The next four were on the east side on the highway. On the corner of Main and Kay was Derbyshire's Filling Station, a Phillips 66. Immediately south of that for a short time was a Skelly station that was by the alley. My cousin, Tom Studdard, worked at that station, and I remember his Skelly uniform and an officer-type hat.

Between the alley and what is now east Lois Street was Fritz and Anna Krohne's Filling Station. There also were cute little cabins alongside that were rented by the month. These were "starter homes" for many newlyweds. They ran an ice route through Lansing, Richardson and Bain City and sold food, pop, candy and distilled water. This was the place to be for card players and a "hangout" for locals.

The sixth station was owned by Mr. Largent. This was on the southeast corner of Main and Mary streets. Mr. Largent sold gasoline and Bill Sherley did the mechanical work in the garage. There were also cabins behind this station.

Living conditions then were not what they are now, but wouldn't it be fun to see an ad for gasoline that would say "Ten Gallons for a Dollar."


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