I Grew Up During Exciting Times

Let’s forget, for a moment, that I was born the year the first satellite was launched into space, or that I lived while the first men made it into space, made the first orbit of the earth. or made the first space walk. Forget also that I was 11 when the first man set foot on the moon.

Those were all exciting times for a child and most adults, and it saddens me that there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent explorative excitement occurring to give our own children a sense of the fantastic and amazing.

Oooh, the iPhone!


But that’s a blog for another day. No, when I speak of having lived during exciting times, I’m talking about the days when there existed service. You know, people who provided a service, who served you, happily and immediately, with a smile.

That was exciting!

There was a time when you’d roll into a gas station (we called them service stations back then) and your wheels would hit a little black hose and a loud DING-DING! would sound. Once you stopped, you could stay inside your car, unless you had to use the rest room, because a real live human being would come out to your car and ask, “Fill ‘er up?” And you’d reply, yes. “Regular or Ethyl?” To this day, I’m not sure who Ethyl was, but my parents always chose regular. The man would then proceed to fill your car with gas, wash your windows, check your tire pressure, and even check your oil!

If you were low on oil he’d suggest putting some in, and he’d do that, too. If the oil needed changing, he’d show it to you and suggest an oil change and you could make the appointment right then and there. Oh, and he’d check most of your other fluids also, and happily fill them too if necessary.

Then you’d be on your merry way as he waved and you waved and everyone smiled and was happy.


That was exciting! Service with a smile was more than just a slogan then, it was an actuality.

Those days are gone. Somewhere along the way, maybe as a cost cutting move, the service station became just a gas station. Now we’re all left to our own devices. Service is dead and we have to get out and fill the gas tank for ourselves.

We have to clean our own windows, too. And more than likely all the other checks that we had taken for granted are left undone. Few of us check things like fluids or tire pressure. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I checked my tires. Sometimes if we go to the instant oil places, they’ll perform all these checks, but at best, that’s every 3 months.

Back then it was weekly. Every time you filled up the nice Standard man, or Citgo man, or Sinclair man, or whoever would do these things. You were assured of a safe car.

The Texaco jingle said it all. “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big, red Texaco star!”

Now there’s no one to trust.



2 thoughts on “I Grew Up During Exciting Times

  1. You and me, brother. I was born in those times too. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the tv, with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, as we all watched in awe – a man walking on the moon !

    I remember service stations, too. There was one in my town (actually a grand total of 2) but only one that was managed by a man from our church. In those days, the church was an extended family – I grew up with a huge extended church family.

    I could drive up in my mom’s car (that later I bought from her) and Mr. Cookson would come dashing out, all smiles, and fill my tank, wash my windows, and check my oil. He knew that car had a slight leak no one could find, so he’d always remind me when it was time to check the oil, and he’d fill it up for me if it was getting low. I could always trust him to look after me and that car.

    Sadly, after I moved to the ‘big city’, I heard he was arrested for – well, doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. Oddly enough, that seemed to go hand in hand with pumping your own gas, changing your own oil . . .now it even costs a quarter just to use the air machine to check and fill your tires !

    I like to think (hope and pray) that some day soon there’s going to be a revolt. A revolution, wherein the pendulum of technology and de-personalization will swing back around.

    And gas will cost .86/gallon again.

  2. It’s interesting, the themes that are popping up across the blogs I visit. Yours, James Ritchie’s, mine. Interesting to me, anyway.

    I’m too young to remember those days (beyond listening to my father rant about them). However, I spent quite a lot of my childhood out of the country in very poor places and one of the things I learned is that all the emotions are more honest: The violence and the decency. That meant that you were more likely to get gunned down…but your whole entire day was improved by the conversation you had with the Taxi-Bus driver.

    Maybe it’s a Big Country thing. I don’t just mean America. I don’t know.

    I don’t think it’s needless nostalgia, though. I think it’s a genuine problem that is not addressed, because it’s almost impossible to quantify to a level where you could do anything about it.

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