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"Fill it with Regular & Check the Oil."

gas stationIn the '60s the service stations provided just that: service. Texaco, Chevron, Union 76, Shell, Richfield and many other gas station chains made up the many stations our family visited when I was young. The smell of gas being pumped was wonderful as I've always loved the smell of gasoline. I was fascinated also by the blue paper towels the attendants used though I don't know why.blue paper towels

gas pump prices Colored banner streamers hung over the pumps in a canopy of dazzling colors flapping in the breeze. Those sunny days, summer and carefree, or late spring when Little League season was in session, were wonderful. Life was a grab bag of both mystery and excitement. On those sunny streets cars zoomed along the asphalt dashing off to who-knows-where, purposeful, and at least 5 miles an hour over the speed limit.

Gas station attendants hopped to attention when customers drove over the bell-hose. I miss that sound tremendously, and all the great things that happened at a street corner gas station.

When Air Was Free

red stingray
I can recall the days of wearing cut-offs, and the sides of the banana seat of my Stingray often scorched the inside of my thighs when I first climbed on. It felt good sitting upright with my arms stretched out forward grasping handlebars that always made me feel like I was on a motorcycle. Sunlight on chrome fenders both dazzled and stabbed my eyes with brightness.

I often pedaled into the gas station for air—not because I needed it—but because it was something to do. It somehow made me feel just a bit more important to ride in and service my own vehicle. In those wonderful days I never would have believed that any service station, anywhere in the world, would ever charge money for air.

Cold Out of the Cooler!

soda machine
There were also soda machines, or cold soda pop in coolers that floated in icy water. They only cost a dime each and tasted so good on a hot day. After popping the cap and listening to it rattle around the little metal receptacle I guzzled down the bubbly goodness till the carbonation scorched my throat.

My favorite drink out of the machine or the cooler was Nesbitt's, or Nehi Grape. I partial really to any grape flavor, but those two were my favorites. An ice-cold bottle of strawberry soda tasted just as good as well. Coke and Pepsi were probably the most common soft drinks out of the machine, and I drank my share of those as well.

Those were the days of sun, where a world was more in touch with each other and much kinder. I miss the scents of hot concrete, gas pumping, and the feeling of the breeze as it blew onto my face. I miss the summers, the people, the life and the ease of a summer day in the 1960's.

Free Road Maps

vintage oregon road map
One of the amazing things I recall about the old gas stations is that the gave away free road maps. Sometimes the attendant just gave one to us kids for the fun of it so we'd have something special to remember from stopping in. green stamp store

S & H Green Stamps were also a big hit whenever we filled up with gas. My Mom collected books and books of them. I must have licked thousands of those stamps, then helping her paste them into the books. We spent many wonderful hours going through the Wish Book looking for the perfect thing for the amount of books we had. Though I wanted the fun stuff like guitars, or radios, Mom often got great things for the house. We cashed in our books at the Green Stamp Fulfillment Center located at the corner of Southeast 82nd and Holgate Blvd.