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Stories from the Road: Memories from an Old Gas Pump

About a week ago, I was taking a vehicle I transported to a repair shop in Stanley, NC. Inside the waiting room is this old gas pump. For a cool $2000, it can be yours. Cheap at half the price, but this relic of the past spark at least a half dozen priceless memories of long ago.

You know, at my age (all of 59, so it's not that old) you see things like this and things come back to you from your memory bank. 

The 38 cents a gallon is obviously a relic of the past; notice there isn't a window for dollar amounts. It is also likely from the days when only leaded gas was sold. (The change to unleaded was probably a good thing, no?)

For those of my generation and older, you'll see this sort of thing and remember a gas station attendant at the "filling station" would fill up your car with gas - regular for the car, premium for the truck (Yes, I know this is still done, by law, in New Jersey)

While the gas was pumped in, that person and/or another would wash the windshield and you'd hear that "streeeeakk" as the rubber wiper scraped across the glass to clear off the soap that was put on prior. And I can remember that soap, and the art work of the attendant swirling on that foam.

You'd also have someone lift up the hood and check the oil. Some would bring the dipstick around for the driver to check. If oil was needed, an aluminum quart can of oil was brought out and the metal spigot was stabbed into the top of the can at the rim, which made for clear pouring of the oil from the can into the motor. That stabbing sound is one you don't hear anymore, but I can't forget it for some reason. When all was done, there was the slamming of that heavy metal hood that reattached itself to the body.

While all this was going on, perhaps, if your dad was feeling generous on a hot day, he'd give you some change with which you'd take to the refrigerated Coke vending machine located near the garage of the place - most filling stations used to double as car repair shops. You'd put the money into the slot and hear it ping pong inside the collector. Once it stopped, you'd open the door to the one side of the machine and pull out a cold, 8 oz. GLASS bottle of "Co-cola". The clanking of glass bottles as they're being pulled is one I can't forget. Also, you could follow the condensation drops as they ran down the iconic ribbon shapes on the bottle.

The bell dinging. It brings back a simpler time when a 6-year-old boy could think of nothing more of wanting to hear that sound and nothing more mattered.

However, for me, when I see this old gas station pump, I remember, of all things, the intermittent "ding" of the pump, as each gallon siphoned out into the fuel tank. I can't explain why my 6-year-old brain was fixed on this sound, but that is what I remember most from those days of a quick gas station trip. That, and following the numbers on the final round and round and round.

Oh, the simpler times of a child's world that are so lost in the complexities of the year 2022. All of this from a relic of a bygone era.

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