The Service Station Experience

Discussion in 'Energy & Fuel' started by Frank Sanoica, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,842
    Likes Received:
    3,431
    The older of my 2 nephews, Dan, 5 years younger than I, approached me after he was discharged from the Marine Corps., having there become a certified welder, seeking that we go into welding business together. I was at that point disgusted with conditions in my Chicago birthplace, anyhow, but being older and shrewder, I suggested we have a back-up business: Retail Gasoline Station with Repair bays. He and I both loved the West, we checked out Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott (AZ), Flagstaff, and finally Las Vegas. A family "neighborhood" ARCO station was available in Vegas. I called Sue back in Chicago, ya wanna live in Vegas? But it's so HOT! Of course I'll live there! That started the madness of leaving my birthplace after 30 years there. We moved ourselves, took 4 trips towing a 12-foot tandem trailer. Dan had married a few years earlier, and they and Sue, Diane, & I rented apartments near the station. We started in it June, 1972, Dan managing it while I did the required 5 week Dealer Training in El Monte, CA.

    Things went fairly well, but in October or November, not sure exactly when, news of some kind of Arab Oil Embargo had the world shaking, and ARCO sent me a notice beginning in January, '73, deliveries of gasoline to my station would be reduced to 60% of same-month previous year deliveries!

    Then in December, just before Christmas, Dan, almost tearful, revealed his wife could not tolerate being away from her mother, who was in L.A.; they were leaving Vegas! I was to be the cat holding the bag! During this time, Sue's brother Rick, still in Chicago and 22 by then, quit his job and moved out to Vegas, to help run the ARCO. Forget exactly, but maybe in February, I gave ARCO the required 90-day termination notice, and before the end of March, they had a young sucker.......er.....young guy from New Jersey eager to take over. (He lasted less than a year.) The embargo had done it's job: the world was at it's knees, lines at service stations waiting to buy fuel, limits on amount sold per customer, early closings, President Nixon even ordered the famous Vegas Strip lights shut off at Midnight! The casinos complied, but only for a few months. Stories emerged of folks waiting for hours to buy gasoline! Curiously, there were few lines in Vegas, that I saw. Vegas was unique, but today has become almost akin to being a giant sewer, IMO.

    Frankl
     
    #1
  2. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    That was a great read! It sounds as if you have a lot of life experience, Frank. I recall the long lines to buy gas, and that people were limited with how much they could buy. At that time, I was a teenager, and we'd fill up the cars with friends and hang out listening to music and chatting while we waited. Because there were so many of us, someone could always stay with the vehicle to move it when needed, and others would go off in search of snacks, drinks, a bathroom, and do a little shopping or exploring. It seemed the gas only went to certain stations, and those were where we'd head to gas up, regardless of how familiar we were with the areas, so it was nice to get out and see different neighborhoods.
     
    #2
    Krissttina Isobe likes this.
  3. Terry Page

    Terry Page Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,354
    Likes Received:
    8,553
    Interesting story Frank, I remember that time in the UK, it led to the fall of the government.


    The 1970s oil crisis knocked the wind out of the global economy and helped trigger a stock market crash, soaring inflation and high unemployment - ultimately leading to the fall of a UK government

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    #3
  4. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    Speaking of service station experiences, I miss the days when gas stations had attendants who would fill 'er up, check your tires, and wash your windshields. I remember they would try to entice customers in when I was young, with little soaps and other gifts, and I believe S&H Green (and other?) stamps. I was too young to understand the stamp thing, but I guess they were saved up, and items could be purchased with them. All of the gas stations near me are self-serve. There's one up in Houston with an attendant, but I don't get up there anymore. I remember back when I was on a trip and stopped in a gas station in Minnesota, and someone came out and asked how much gas we wanted. We were surprised, since most stations are self-serve, but it sure was nice to just wander into the store to look around and relax for a few minutes.
     
    #4
    Krissttina Isobe likes this.
  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,456
    Likes Received:
    9,815
    I don't know if they do that nationwide but, here in Maine, many of the CITGO stations will pump your gas, check your oil, your tire pressure, and wash your windows. Plus, some of them offer discounts for cash. I never have cash, but I like the idea of it. Most of the CITGO stations here will do that, so much so that I thought that it was a policy for all CITGO stations, but I have come across some that don't.
     
    #5
    Krissttina Isobe and Diane Lane like this.
  6. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,842
    Likes Received:
    3,431
    ......."S&H Green (and other?) stamps. I was too young to understand the stamp thing,"

    @Diane Lane : Glad you brought them up! The ARCO folks strongly requested that the Dealer participate in the stamp program, as all the competing suppliers were. The stamps came in books, which the Dealer had to pay for out of his own pocket, $44.00 per book. I had bought 2 books, which were kept in the locked cash drawer used by the station workers, right inside the doorway, fastened to the wall. All of us carried a little spring-wind-up long key chain on our belts, which allowed us to streth the chain out, unlock the cash drawer, and then returned the key back rooled up. Neat system. Unless the drawer were left intentionally open, only our keys could access it.

    One night, all the books of stamps disappeared from the drawer. Young high schooll senior, Steve, worked for me, was there alone. The next day, he told me the stamps had been stolen. Guess he never realized that, 1) if the drawer had been left open, allowing theft by some customer, or, 2) he stole the stamps himself, either way the blame was his. So, I fired him. He took it OK, saying the unemployment benefits were OK, he had been there before. Amicable departure.

    About a month later, he stormed into the station, furious, ready to pick a fight. He had obtained several weeks benefits, then the Unemployment Comp folks demanded those payments back. I had filled out a form for them revealing the termination was for theft. They had told Steve that; he had lied to them saying he was laid off.

    I sat him down, and quietly convinced him that this lesson will serve him for life. I offered to help him out with money, but he refused. He was a good kid, about to graduate from high school, and had worked in the station several years before I took it over. We parted ways more as friends than enemies.

    Long read, I know. But, human interest contained. Frank
     
    #6
  7. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    I have one Citgo in my immediate area, and I do believe they give a cash discount. They were one of the few stations that had gas before the Hurricane Rita evacuation, and I think the discount for cash was even higher right then, since everyone was trying to hold onto their cash and use debit or credit. I'd love to have a local station that would check my tire pressure, because just bending to do that really exacerbates my back pain. My tires aren't in the best shape, and I check the pressure a lot, so that would definitely be a blessing. Bending down (I frequently end up sitting on the ground to do it, because it's easier on my back) to do it always ruins the rest of my day. Occasionally, I'll pull into the Automotive section of Walmart and ask them to do it, but I haven't been shopping there much lately.

    @Frank Sanoica Hopefully that taught him a lesson that benefited him in the long run. I'm sure that happened quite a bit, since they seemed to be a sort of currency. I've heard of clerks stealing rolls of lottery tickets nowadays, apparently not realizing they are all coded and can be tracked.
     
    #7
  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    4,828
    Likes Received:
    6,959
    My mom used to collect S&H green stamps, and several other kind that service stations used to hand out with gas and other purchases. I think the grocery stores had them, too. I remember she would paste them all into the little books and save up the books until she had a good pile of them.
    The closest green stamp redemption center was about a 50 mile drive from where we lived; so she ussually combined that along with a trip into Spokane, which was in the same direction.
    Then, she would go in and pick out the gifts she wanted to order with her stamps.
    Later, after the stamps mostly lost popularity, many gas stations started giving away dish sets, one piece each week; o you had to get gas there at least once each week to collect the whole set.
    For the ones like plates, where you needed several to make the set, it was necessary to come in more often and buy gas, and there was a minimum amount that it took in order to get your "dish of the week".
    Some of the more expensive ones (casserole dishes, teapots, etc) cost money as well as buying gas; so you bought those but got them at a discount.
    We had a beautiful set of dishes with pink roses on them for many years that we got from faithfully buying our gas at the local Standard Station for many months.
     
    #8
  9. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Messages:
    21,461
    Likes Received:
    6,468
    We used to have the exact same thing here too @Yvonne Smith , my mum would collect books and books filled with green or pink stamps just to redeem them for a new kettle or a set of pans or something
     
    #9
    Bonnie Thomas and Yvonne Smith like this.
  10. Bonnie Thomas

    Bonnie Thomas Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2015
    Messages:
    1,861
    Likes Received:
    1,908
    Oh, the good ole days ... thanks for the memories @Yvonne Smith ....
    had an S&H store close to where we lived when our kids were small. Saved those books forever, to go shopping for kitchen, and baby items. It was always a fun experience to get some new things that we really couldn't afford to just go buy.
     
    #10
    Holly Saunders likes this.
  11. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Messages:
    21,461
    Likes Received:
    6,468
    LOL, I remember we once worked out how much we'd had to spend to get enough books filled with green stamps to get a set of crystal glasses or something and it worked out to be about £700 :eek::D:D
     
    #11
    Frank Sanoica and Bonnie Thomas like this.

Share This Page