Thanks to Keith Margenau, from New Hampshire, for sending these picture of his Jeep. Here’s what he wrote about it.

I have had this Jeep for many years. The paint is worn but original. As you can see it’s lettered up “DRAPER CORPORATION FILLING STATION”. Here’s what I know- it’s lettered on tailgate too, early gates had vehicle VIN on them, it’s original to Jeep. Paint and lettering are original to this Jeep. As far as I know Draper Corp only had 1 filling station- none at the other factory sites- Hopdale MA. I have only found one picture of the station and have not been able to tie the Jeep to it with a photo. It is a 1947 Willys Cj2a. It does have what appears to be a fixed asset tag under the hood. Ever see any images of this Jeep?

If you remember the Jeep at the gas station, Keith would like to hear about it. Email me, (email link on homepage), and I’ll pass it on to him. I vaguely recall the gas station Jeep, and definitely remember a similar one being used to pull the gang mowers in the town park.

Site next to the fire station where the gas station once stood.

What’s a Service Station?

I took my grandson for a ride in my ’65 GTO a few weeks ago. It was a nice day, so I put the top down, which, being 12, he loves. I needed some fuel so I told him we would make a quick stop at the service station, prompting him to ask, “What’s that Grandpa?”

I recognized the disconnect and said, “Sorry, I meant gas station.” He simply said “Oh!” but I couldn’t help thinking about what he’d missed. I remember a normal service station had a single sign out front announcing the brand of gas, maybe Flying A, Phillips 66, Atlantic, or Texaco. Many of these businesses had only two or three pumps (regular or hi-test) on a single island, and a smiling attendant would come out to your car (in snow, sleet, rain, and hail) and pump the gas for you! Most times, weather permitting, he’d wipe the windows and check your oil. You’d pay him with cash! All this happened every time you stopped there. Imagine that!

The neighborhood service station workers became acquaintances, sometimes even friends, and would tune up your car, do major and minor repair work, air up your tires, and lots more. This is where the service in service station originated. We could buy 101-octane gas for 27-cents a gallon and be given collectible drinking glasses, Green Stamps for prizes, and discount coupons, all for just stopping there.

In the mid-Sixties, I blew up second gear (don’t ask) in a three-speed Ford transmission. This was a serious inconvenience, as I needed the car to get to college and to work. Luckily, my local service station had the revered Mechanic On Duty sign prominently displayed. Rolling to a stop in third gear I told him my problem, left the car, and walked home a few blocks away. By the next evening, he had the trans out of the car, repaired and serviced, and back in the car. I think the bill was about 50 dollars total. Now that was a service station and for as long as I lived in the area, that was my service station.

Genuine service stations normally had a tow truck. If you called them, and you were within a reasonable driving distance, they would come to your home, or where you were stuck, and get you, and usually fairly quickly. After dropping the crippled car at the station, the driver would take you home. Imagine that!

Real service stations came in a variety of sizes, from a one-room building with an outhouse, to multi-bay buildings that stocked common repair parts like hoses, belts, etc. In rural areas, the repair work was sometimes done outside with only a roof covering the work areas. Those guys were tough! What would OSHA and Workman’s Comp have to say about that today? The point is that service was the product they sold, regardless of the working conditions.

Service as a product has gone missing. You can’t put a price on it, it’s unquantifiable. You can price out hourly labor charges and parts costs, but how can you put a price on attitude and dedication? More and more, both of those seem to be disappearing in all manner of businesses.

I had two friends who worked in service stations during the early Sixties. They were pump jockeys only, filling tanks, washing windows, and checking oil. The station supplied them with a warm jacket and a hat with a brand logo, plus rain gear. They had specific instructions on how to greet and speak to customers. Being personable was required by the company and part of the service experience. The stations worried about growing competition, and customer relations were actually important. When was the last time you were greeted by a living person at a fuel dispensary facility? Now you can watch the news, commercials, and be serenaded by the TV monitor on the top of the pump as you fill your own tank.

Unfortunately, the service station is nearly dead. Except for a few independent holdouts around the country, they’re history, just like our muscle machines. Self-Serve is the new terminology for almost everything. From filling your tank and tires to ordering a new car online, it’s all up to you.

Technology is making huge strides in many areas, but service is not one of them. As we stray farther away from service and more toward do-it-yourself, we will continue to lose personal interaction, which is a shame. But that’s a problem for our kids and grandkids to deal with. I guess I’m just looking for that twilight zone station where uniformed attendants bound out, surround my vehicle smiling, singing, and dancing to take care of everything, and all for five bucks worth of gas. Imagine that!

From Muscle Machines magazine. Thanks to Al Marzetta for sending it.


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