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May - Ode to The Gas Station

Do you remember pulling into a gas station and being greeted by an attendant who would

fill up your tank, check the oil and tire pressure, and clean the windshield? It was common for the attendant to strike up a conversation, asking where you were headed and offering suggestions for things to see and do. As a child, I can remember bouncing on the air hose that triggered the bell. I now realize it was likely a source of annoyance for those working inside the station.

The first automobiles in the United States came on the scene in the 1890’s. Early drivers had to purchase gasoline from pharmacies or hardware stores which is where kerosene was sold for home lamps. According to Wikipedia, “The world's first purpose-built gas station was constructed in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905 at 420 South Theresa Avenue”.

Today, there are approximately 120,000 gas stations scattered across the United States, with the majority owned and operated by large corporations. Sadly, the era of the friendly, family-owned gas station has become a thing of the past. Nonetheless, it's important to recognize and appreciate the important role that these small businesses played in advancing the

automobile industry. Prior to the widespread availability of gas stations, driving long distances was difficult and inconvenient, as drivers had to carry extra fuel with them or plan their routes around available gas stops. Gas stations made it possible for drivers to travel longer distances and explore new places. We owe a debt of gratitude to these early gas station pioneers, whose legacy lives on in the continued evolution of the American car culture.

Maybe during your travels this summer, you will have the fortune of refueling at one of the storied gas stations of yesteryear.

... bob

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