Gas Stations

gaspump2The first gas station in town, as I remember, was  Anderson’s Standard Service Station , which became Whadford’s Standard Service Station around end of 30s, and then other renters.  It was on the SW corner of Maple and Plymouth — in the Cold Storage Locker building (owned by Andersons).

The Whadfords had a farm north of HWY 30 on the ridge, near Hamilton Corner.

My memory is of a single pump on the corner — accessible on either Maple or Plymouth–the curb was cut out. There was a utility pole at the corner–and the drive for the station was between that pole and the building.  kind of a cramped arrangement.  The building had the corner cut out for the pump.  It was a hand operated pump, with a 40″ pump handle on the side.  My dad had one just like it later in 40s.  It used no electric power. You pumped up gas with the long handle into the glass enclosed top, from an underground tank.  The maximum was 10 gallons.  It had markings to know how much — where you could see exactly how much you had.  The long pump handle made it easy to pump. Then you put the nozzle into your gas tank and pressed the trigger, and the visible gas on top flowed via gravity into your tank. It was an easily operated pump.  We used ours daily for many years.  Actually seeing the gas filling the top and then draining into your tank was exciting to me.

Utah Historical Museum

Utah Historical Museum

(One of the Whadford boys married Gladys Capps (of the Capps family).  I ran into them in Escondido, CA in 1994, by happenstance.  He was retired from the phone company I think.  They had bought a lot that had a rental house in front, and a small one room house at back.  They had a large travel trailer and spent much of the year going to various camp sites — big back in the 70s.)

There was a second gas service station, Stafford Service Station, on the point of SW 1st and Plymouth.  In my high school days it was Moore’s Service Station. It has been there now all down thru the years — a most happy place for a gas station!

Later, in the late 40s, the Co-op put in pumps in front for its regular patrons.

Out on the west side of town on Hwy 30, later in the 40s, was another 2 pump service station at the entrance to that small subdivision.  The Dobson Motor Court also had two pumps for awhile.  And there was a tiny station across from the big red brick school on the corner of what became all high school land.

Gas stations in NP began as only purveyors of gasoline–which previously had been  dispensed in small volumes by drugstores or feed stores, along with distillates like kerosene, coal oil, mineral oil, etc.  As the number of cars and demand increased, then stand alone filling stations sprang up.  But, as with this small station on Plymouth Ave, they would be short- lived as competitors would offer additional services, i.e. mechanical work, more efficient service, and selling oil and other merchandise.  Gas stations would suffer a sea change during the oil embargo of the 70s where most went out of the business of selling gasoline.

Carolyn Chandler 1949

Carolyn Chandler 1949

Because my father did so much work with his caterpillar, it was necessary to have gas on hand on our farm — and carried with us in our pickup to our job sites.  At first this was in 55 gal drums with a hand pump.  In fact, in 1942 when we went to LA to work in Douglas Aircraft, Charlene and I rode all the way there and back in the back of the pickup — on a mattress thrown over all our belongings. However, my dad, worried about long distances between gas stations, so he insisted upon putting a 55 gal drum in the pickup for our trip.

Of course it sloshed around releasing fumes that made us sick.  On the way home from LA, three or four months later, dad was able to come thru Winnemucca up thru Nevada/Oregon bad lands, just a dirt road then with some graveled stretches, but no filling stations.  However much shorter for us — and cheaper — because out of the way places charged outrageously for fuel.

Around 1943 he somehow obtained a 500 gal tank which went underground and necessitated a pump to pump up to put into vehicles and gas cans.  We still carried a 55 gal drum in the pickup, along with various smaller containers. The first pump was the glass top model.  My buddy, Steve Myers, around 1947 shot a hole in it with my BB gun.  No real harm, dad merely plugged the hole with a small wooden plug.  However it got dad’s attention, and he noticed gas missing. We dug up the buried tank, which was leaking (millions of them across the country leaked!)  So we got a new 500 gal tank — and dad elected to get an electric pump. The old glass top pump sat by our granary for years.

Between my dad and I running various tractors, and other gas powered implements, it took no time at all to go thru this much gas.  I would take a 20 gal and two 5 gal  cans with me every day — in addition to the 55 gal drum.  Most farmers of late 40s had a gas distributor come around to fill these big tanks on the farm. The Co op did this in our area.  Later a distributor from Fruitland did it as well. Eventually, the leakage problem forced us to use 300-500 gal tanks on stilts or stands above ground — as they all will leak underground.  Now underground tanks are outlawed unless very expensive monitoring and other preventions are used (one of most heavily regulated items in the US).  In late 50s or 60s as gov’t began to tax everything — and imposed a gas/road tax on autos — the farmers set up a howl. So they were exempted from road tax on farm vehicles. This cemented the use of big tanks, which were not road taxed and a gas distributor service would come around and fill them for us, sans road tax.  This necessitated a form filed with our IRS 1040 return.  It seemed like overnight we must file different forms for gas, and diesel, and, and…..!  Farmers were being forced into bureaucracy at a dizzying rate.

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