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No more service with a smile from gas station attendants
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Somewhere along the way, we will explain to future generations how gasoline once cost about 35 cents a gallon and how someone would pump it for you, check your tires and oil and wipe off your windshield.

Recently, we seem to have gotten very excited about gasoline for less than $2 a gallon and we’re willing to wait in line for it.

A lot of people’s names escape me, but I remember all of our service station men. In that day, you generally “traded” with the same guy every time you needed gas. He was like your doctor or dentist. He was your guy and that was the way it was.

Carl was the first service station guy I remember. He had an Enco station, which later became Esso and then Exxon. Carl always called me “Charlie Brown” and I thought he was the greatest. He always wore a uniform shirt with his name embroidered over the pocket. He had a head full of sandy brown hair coated with a full dose of some kind of hair tonic to keep it in place. He had a little spit curl over one eye.

Mr. Jim Paul Shepherd probably holds the distinction of being my all-time favorite service station man. He operated the Gulf station in Social Circle. He had Cokes for a dime and a big-box freezer out front with every kind of ice cream novelty known to mankind.

Mr. Jim and his wife, Estelle, ran the station. They had a big metal box containing the charge slips for folks who had monthly accounts.

He was a short fellow who was about as round as he was high. He always wore a little all-weather hat and would gently bark out orders to his workers.

Around here, service stations were all over the place.

Harold Westbrook Sr. operated a station on Riverside Drive, next to the current location of Green’s Grocery. In those days, Riverside Drive was the primary route U.S. 129 and was the gateway to the mountains.

Mr. Westbrook was a stickler for neatness. His workers, including son Harold Jr., had to have their shirts tucked in and they knew to be clean-shaven. He wore a dress hat, straw in the summertime that had a green band to compliment his green Texaco uniform. He always sported a pair of Florsheim wing tips.

No signal bell was on the station driveway. The owner always kept a keen eye out for cars coming down Riverside.

Others around Gainesville included Jerry Nix, whose last station was a Chevron station on E.E. Butler Parkway.

This past week, we said goodbye to the man who was the last of the service station owners, Bobby Poole.

Bobby was a quiet fellow who took care of his customers. He closed the station several years back, but many of his customers came and paid their respects to their service station man.

Bobby was in business with Wendell Ramey, who kept my old broken-down cars running for several years.

The Amoco station was located in a triangle across from Northeast Georgia Medical Center. He used to go out on icy mornings and make sure doctors and nurses could get to work.

That’s one of those stories we will use to tell our grandchildren about service station men.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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