THE LAST SERVICE STATION IN GEORGETOWN

THE LAST SERVICE STATION IN GEORGETOWN
By Dub Ramsel

When I arrived to Georgetown and Williamson County in 1952, A Sinclair Service Station was located at the intersection of University Avenue and Austin Avenue. It was easy to get in and out of from all four directions. The old Dinosaur sign stood out so you could not miss it.

When I pulled in for some gas, I was met by a big man with a broad smile and he began wiping my windshield before he received his orders for service. When I said "fill it up", he stuck the hose in my tank and then raised the hood and pulled out the oil stick to measure the level of oil. He then flipped open my battery caps and checked the battery for the right level of liquid. If the oil was low he would show me the stick and say that He believed I needed a quart. He would then check the pressure on each tire.

I decided that here was where I was going to do my business concerning my vehicle, so introduced myself and he told me hi was Clifford Gustafson. Then he said that he had been running the station since he got home from the Service of WW2. Clifford looked to be around forty years old, and he did everything himself. He would fix a flat for a buck or change his customer’s oil and give a grease job and still tend to the gas customers.

I asked Clifford if he was Swedish by decent. He said he was a twenty four caret Swede. His grand father had come to America in the mid nineteenth century. They were farmers and Clifford was reared on a farm. I noticed that he had shoulders that would make Cassius Clay envious. I learned later that he could chin himself with one arm.

When Cliff and his wife, Iva Lee Edwards, got married it was in the depression years. He worked anywhere he could make a buck. There was not much money for recreation, so he and Iva Lee entertained themselves in the evening by knitting and doing embroidery work. She taught him how to do these feminine sounding things. The funny part was that nobody kidded him about his pastime activities. It did not bother Cliff had he gotten some kidding about it. Everyone in town knew how powerful a man Cliff was and didn't want to take the chance of riling him up.

Someone commented after seeing Cliff chin himself with one arm that he bet he couldn't do it with a weight on his back. It so happened that the man who said this had his young son with him. Cliff asked the boy, who weighed about forty pounds, to climb on his back, He did and Cliff chinned himself with the boy hanging to his back.

When Pearl Harbor happened Cliff and some other younger fellows joined the Army. They reported that Cliff continued his knitting in the barracks when they had free time. When some joker would say something about his knitting, he would just grin and show his biceps - no more kidding.

Cliff and Iva Lee finally got their son and they called him "Butch" They had probably been married ten years when Butch arrived .They just didn't want to bring children into the world before they were able to rear him properly. They were great parents, took a lot of interest in all the things kids get involved in at this time. Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts. He kept the station going, but managed to squeeze in the time for his kid. Butch turned out great.

As the years went by, changes began to take place in the gasoline selling business. Big companies were merging with each other and gas was still selling for around .23 per gal. Then they began putting in self service station and lowered the price to get the public used to the new innovation. This was their way of getting all the full service operators to reduce their prices or get out of business.

I do not recall what year it was, but Clifford Gustafson had put in thirty or more years and was ready to start slowing down. Therefore when Sinclair merged with another Company and the name was changed, he sold out. He was getting old and tired and was not willing to make any changes.

By this time new pumps were being installed for self service, and food Marts were included in conjunction with the gasoline. He was quoted as saying that if he had wanted to be in the grocery business he would have chosen that in the first place.

It just is not he same any more. Now, there is an Exxon Station with a Food Mart on the lot where Cliff's station used to be, now if one needs air he has to pay for it. A six pack of beer can be bought along with the gas, or a loaf of bread and a jug of milk. As for the .23 gas, that has been gone so long it is ancient history. My last tank of gas cost $1.89.99 per gallon and I had to put it in myself.

There are a few full service stations around in conjunction with the self service, but one had better be prepared to pay an extra ten cents per gallon to have someone fill the tank for him or her. Not many folks want to pay for this luxury.

Not many filling stations offer tire repair service any more, and when they do, be prepared to pay at least ten bucks for fixing a flat. It is a god thing that tires are made better than they were in 1952 and flats do not happen so often. It still pays to avoid mesquite thorns and prickly pear. It is almost a disaster to have a blow out on the highway while going at high speeds. The last one I had was from running over an object that had fallen from a flat bed truck, and since I was not checked out on how to get the donut spare out and then jack up the wheel and remove the damaged tire and wheel, it cost me over a hundred fifty to get towed and then buy a new tire.

The old cars of the fifties were simple to change tires and one would be on the road again in fifteen minutes, and you didn't have to take an engineering course to learn how to do the job.

I never cease to be amazed at the number of cars are still running on the highways in spite of all the inconveniences and hazards that face them. I don't suppose many drivers gave any thought to that. They just get on the cell phone and call a wrecker or some-one to come net them.

I don't remember what year Clifford Gustafson retired, but by that time Iva Lee had come into some money from the family estate. The enormous amount of land they owned finally become worth something and was divided up. I know they were able to do some traveling before they got too old. I hope they got to do something besides work. They were fine folks and deserved everything they might have inherited.

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