Service stations: a distant memory

July 2, 2024

“Gas” by Edward Hopper, 1940

Let’s take a trip back in time……I didn’t write this, but it speaks to me:

“We called them “service stations”; no other name seemed to fit. And although they were gas stations, the service was exemplary.

“At the pump island the hose stretched to our car’s gas tank. I acquaint the smell of gasoline with those blue paper towels the attendants used. At a young age I developed a fascination for those towels, somehow believing that that exotic scent of gasoline came from them. I loved everything about the gas station; I loved how the attendants squee-geed the windows to wash away summer dust and bugs while gas was pumped into our car.

“It was at the service stations where an ice cold dripping wet bottle of pop waited for me inside the cooler. For ten cents I retrieved my favorite bottle of pop. It never tasted better than it did from a wet bottle on a hot day.

“In the back seat my view was momentarily blocked as the attendant raised the hood to check the oil. On the fresh and sunny days I heard the flapping sound of plastic multi-colored streamers dancing in the wind. During the wait I sometimes leaned my arm out the window and let my elbow embrace the side of the door. It felt hot from the scorching heat of the sun.

“A ding hose sounded whenever cars pulled in. The service stations were places where I rode my bike to fill the tires with air. Our old bike pump in our garage did the trick just fine, but never left me with such a feeling of importance as when I rode in to the station. Free air, free road maps and free advice on when to get something under the hood looked at were all splendid particles of a galaxy of memories gone by.

“Those were the days.”

Thank you for this evocative memory. Attribution: Instagram account

Don’t forget my shop, with beautiful healing gifts and tools to process grief, right HERE.

7 comments on “Service stations: a distant memory
  1. Laurie Stone says:

    Reading this, I can almost smell the oil and gas scents as we pulled in. Before we know it, it’ll all be electric charge-up stations.

  2. I loved being able to pull up to a gas station and have someone else fill the tank plus clean the windshield!

  3. Alana says:

    My husband had a summer job at a service station. Not only would he pump gas and clean windshields (this was in the early 1970’s) but he learned how to fix flat tires. Remember the maps they gave away for free- paper maps that, once you unfolded them, would be so tricky to fold up again? Yes, these days are mostly in memory now. Love that Hopper painting with the Mobil Pegasus and the old style pumps.

  4. Beth Havey says:

    Carol, THANKS. You got it all exactly right. Bonke’s was our station on Western Avenue. The guys there took good care of our old Chevy and my mother, who was a widow with three children. The day they came for the old car (my aunt had given my mother her old one) we all watched from the living room windows and cried.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.