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frenchyd SuperDork
7/30/18 10:04 a.m.

In reply to pirate :

I was awake in the middle of the night and grabbed a book to read to put me back to sleep.  It was The Red Car  by John Stanford

probably the 50th time I read it, but one thing I hadn’t paid attention to earlier. 

The shop rate for a skilled mechanic was $3.00 an hour back in 1954. 

What’s today’s shop rate? $100.00, $125.00?  More? 

Mustang50 New Reader
7/30/18 12:01 p.m.

The Red Car was the book that got me interested in sports cars.  I read it in my early teens and I bought a copy from Amazon a few years ago.  Going to give it to my grandson when he's old enough.

Hal UltraDork
8/1/18 8:08 p.m.

Summer of 1962 I had finished my first year of college and was looking for a summer job.  My father got a friend of his who owned a Gulf station to give me a job.  This wasn't just any Gulf station.  If you were traveling Rt 30 out of Pittsburgh to get on the PA Turnpike at Irwin, the station was right at the ramp to the turnpike.  Last chance before the higher gas prices on the turnpike.

It was shift work, a week each of daylight, second, night and the swing shift where you covered the days off for the other pump jockeys.  There were two pump jockeys on each shift and because of the station location we were usually busy pumping gas on each shift. Had 8 pumps so you were usually pumping at least two vehicles at a time.  Daylight shift was mostly cars, second was a mix of cars and tractor trailers(very few diesel trucks back then), and midnight was long streams of trucks.

We were paid commission, but guaranteed minimum wage which was $1.25 at the time.   We were paid 8¢ per $1.00 of gas sold. Gas was ~50¢ a gallon.  Don't remember any week that I just got minimum wage.  Nothing like an 8 hour midnight shift with 2 trucks at the pumps the whole shift and each one of them was getting ~100 gallons!  I made more money that summer than I did when I started teaching 3 years later.

Lobsterpennies New Reader
8/3/18 8:07 p.m.

Juat read this whole thread. I am old enough to remember full service and it brought back a lot of memories. Thank you to Frenchyd for starting it and sharing your stories as well as everyone else who has joined in! And Frenchyd if you have more I would love to read them

wheelsmithy SuperDork
8/4/18 6:08 p.m.

Again, I'm a little young (God, it feels good to say that!), and this is a little off topic, but the hand pumping bit reminded me.

We lived out in the boondocks of Middle Tn on 26ish acres.  At the time, Dad was doing HVAC work, but no matter what you wanted to do, it required driving. Town was a half hour away. Being wiley, the old man had farm gas delivered to a huge steel barrel (250 gal? I can't say. It was maybe a 10' long by 4' around cylinder). So any time we needed gas, we went out and hand pumped it.  

Get the padlock off, insert the nozzle, and pull-push-pull the handle until the gas ran down the fender of Dad's work truck, the Jag, or whatever VW was low. The handle was well above my head when I started doing this, and I was almost of driving age before I used a pump that wasn't me-powered.

Next to the pump was a derelict '57 Caddy limo. My brother and I used to sit bolt upright in the trunk eating pretzels. It was complete, but carburetor parts were unobtainable, and that sidelined the mighty beast. Maybe the tires were flat, but as I recall, it was sitting on the drums. One day, at my father's request, a guy in a tow truck came to take it away. It was a '49-'54ish Chevy or GMC, the long A-frame on the back, and would have made a modern rat rodder's heart flutter. The guy hooked up to the Caddy, and did a magnificent, slow-motion wheelie trying to pull it out, but the beast wouldn't budge. He gave it the beans, and I swear, the tip of the hood was within inches of a powerline. He held it right there, and, almost imperceptibly, the truck's nose started a slow descent toward the driveway, as the Caddy was pulled free. He didn't waste the kinetic energy of these two masses' movement, and as soon as the front wheels hit, he was off, dragging what would now be a very expensive car down a dirt road either on its rims or drums, I really can't recall which. That's the last we ever saw of the limo.

pirate Reader
8/4/18 10:14 p.m.

Cool story! 

Brett_Murphy PowerDork
8/4/18 10:46 p.m.
wheelsmithy said:

   Integrity. That is my take away. Barry went through Viet Nam as a very young man, and no doubt, had demons to battle, but he chose to live simply, help when he could, and laugh quite a bit. He's still with us. I need to drop by his shop.


Don't take this the wrong way: You need to go visit Barry and tell him this, even if it means a 500 mile drive, even if you told him before. Once people are gone, things unsaid become regrets.


JRH New Reader
8/4/18 10:48 p.m.

Stories like this are one of the reasons why I joined this forum. It's so awesome to get a little bit more of a glimpse into a time I'll never be able to experience. 

Bubbal New Reader
8/5/18 12:03 a.m.

As a kid in the 60's and driver in mid 70's, I remember the full service stations my family bought gas from - Sankers's Texaco was our primary, Charlie Lipp's Sunoco was also visited.  S&H green stamps were big promotion at stations as were BC comic strip glasses at Marathon stations.   The stations did everything from gas to tune ups to overhauls.  I used to go to every station on my bike and ask for stickers - decals from the station brand and also parts and additives like STP and Thrush and Gumout.  Loved to set the bell off on my bike.



pirate Reader
9/10/18 11:36 a.m.

I found this picture on the HAMB and thought it really represented the theme of this thread with the uniform, oil can racks, kid on bike, etc.

frenchyd SuperDork
9/11/18 6:48 a.m.
pirate said:

Well I am from the Detroit area and it was a whole car culture. If you father didn’t work for one of the big three chances are he worked for a company that supplied the auto companies or was somehow involved with them. When the new models started hitting the showrooms in September whole families went to the dealer showrooms not really to buy a car but but just to see the new models and all they had to offer. If a neighbor bought a new car all the neighborhood went to see it and the owner was proud to show it off. 

If you were a kid at least in my neighborhood you could identify any car make, model and year as it drove down the street. All the guys I knew were interested in cars and couldn’t hardly wait until they got their license. Having a car represented a freedom and coming of age. I can only remember a very few kids I knew who actually had a car given to them by there parents. Most teens in my area worked and working was the avenue to be able to get a car. Being willing and able to work on a car meant having a nicer car then you could afford to buy.

Kids were a lot more interested in cars back then for me hot rods and racing. I also hung around with some guys that were a few years older then I was and they were getting and working on cars and it was a lot of what we talked about. I suppose there are other reasons no computers, no computer games, television that got maybe four stations, limited sports and certainly not sports that are year round like to day. Simpler time!

So much of your story is things we miss deeply today.  Getting a new car just because it was new, not because the old one was worn out.  

The pride of ownership of that New car, and showing it off to the neighbors.  

Today unless it’s a radically different color, how do neighbors even know? They all tend to be gray  or light blue lumps of the same general shape. Unless you know which badge to look for how can you tell? 

Remember the fins?  Followed by the horizontal fins? Quad headlights?  Switching from 15 inch tires to 14 inch so the car looked lower? Each year was distinctly different looking.  Longer lower wider !!!!  

200mph New Reader
9/11/18 9:28 a.m.

In reply to pirate :

The station owner where I worked wouldn't let us touch a bicycle.  High air line pressure, and if a bike tube blew, we wasted time and labor patching it.  He'd let the bike rider add air... at his own risk.

Nice bike though.

Wally MegaDork
9/12/18 7:50 p.m.

I caught the very tail end of full service stations on long Island in the early 80s. My dad and his brother had local 7up routes at the time and fueled the trucks and the family cars at a nearby Gulf owned by a friend from high school. If I was with them I usually pumped the gas and signed the receipt so the mechanics didn't have to come out and do it.  It was one of the last ones in the area with the shiny glazed bricks and all the racks of parts hanging up on the shop.  Once in a while we'd take the truck in on a saturday for service and wait with it and i'd make a pest of myself asking too many questions about everything.   

frenchyd SuperDork
9/14/18 6:42 a.m.

In reply to Wally :

You make a very good point. That is the neighborhood garage aspect.  The station I worked at was a block away. In that block was another competitor. That one survived by selling gas a penny cheaper.  

My owner said he was glad of the competition. “Let him have the cheapskates”. I’ll take people who actually understand value and are willing to pay for it.”  

pirate Reader
1/4/19 12:21 p.m.
pirate said:

Gas stations back then were a part of the neighborhood. Most of the business was loyal regular customers most of which you knew by name and also commercial accounts that had their truck filled with gas and serviced on a regular basis. This was before credit cards so people paid with cash or had a tab that they would come in and “settle up” at the end of the month. People made their decision on gas stations based on service, honesty of the owner and quality work in the back room and rarely switched to another station without a good reason. 

Came upon this photo on another website on a young guy “sticking the tanks” to see how much gas was left or sold during the day. 


Closing each day required “sticking the tanks” when you took a long wooden stick graduated in inches opened the fill port on the tank and measured how many inches of gas was left. Also you had to record the counter on each pump to see how many gallons had been pumped that day.  Also had to count how many cans were missing from the oil can racks and then replenish for next day as well as account for work done in the service bays. I’m sure all that kind of stuff is automated today. When the gas distributor called to notify of a price change ( usually a penny or two) if it was a increase the price at pumps was changed immediately if a decrease we waited until closing. The cans from oil sold at the pumps or oil changes were always turned upside down on the clean bulk oil tank to catch those few drops of oil that drained out during the day. 


Dwight None
1/9/19 8:31 a.m.

I had much the same experiences. 

 My home town of Pine City Minnesota, had a Sinclair station, where I hung out some. Learned how to take care of my 1st car,  A 1956 Plymouth.

This was in the days of the first freeway I-35.  One of the contruction crew, dropped in one day in a early Austin Healey 100 or 3000... It was, as he told me, a special  car.. An M or sumthin... I have NEVER gotten over that...I first read the book, 'The Red Car' about the same time...  A boyhood friend whose Dad owned a Pure Oil station in Golden Valley Minnesota was always talking about getting a 'Foreign Sports Car' 'Like a MG' 

 Then moving back to the Minneapolis area as a young fella. Brought my first LBC, [little British car] a '59 Austin healey Sprite, or as in his Texax twang PO called it 'Spraat' He had wrecked the car and when he crashed it, gave up on it, offered it to me... [a whole 'nother story] I had repaired the body and fixed  everything up on a spare change...  

Atr some point a friend got me a part time job at a Shell station, west of the cities.. Educated stepped up... Pumping   gas, still no self serve, Lubing cars, changing oil 'n filters tires etc... Byt this time, I'd already attended a couple of 'gymkhana's' Then off the crew at road races.. To be continued......

Dwight New Reader
1/10/19 9:08 a.m.

Moved [back] to the Minneapolis area, in October 1965. Then traded the '59 sprite  [mistake] for a '65 red, wire wheeled MGB... Great car! In the mean time, owned 2 PV444 volvo's, drove one, traded the other.... By 1968, I was working part time in Plymouth MN at a Shell station. Unfortuneately, the owner had a drinking problem and I was wooed away by a staion owner in Crystal MN. A Pure OIl station that soon became a Union 76.... Almost 3 years there, and then off to the Dealerships, for  'bout 17 years.... First Renault, also Mercedes, plus Oldsmobile... The reason I was hired to work on 'Ren-oooo's was I was breathing... They dropped that dealership and talked me into working on Mercedes... Good choice, it turned out....

pirate Reader
1/10/19 10:34 a.m.

I find it amazing how much a lot of us have in common when it comes to cars and life experiences from that era. Life was simpler. A lot of today’s younger folks just don’t have the interest in cars and see them as just being appliances to get fro point A to point B. Those that do appreciate cars have to be really committed to learning due to the complexity plus the expense. There is just so much more today for young people to be involved in. I have eight grandchildren six of which are boys with the exception of one none have interest in cars. However, they all are on the go seemingly everyday with activities.

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