Old Standard Gas Station In McGill

By Keith Gibson

The other day I was walking up K Ave. to visit some friends.  At the corner of main and K ave.  by the old bank building, I glanced over at the EMT, McGill Fire Station.  Memories of the old Standard Station popped up in my feeble brain and thru the absolute miracle of nature I could clearly see the old station.

I stood there for several minutes recalling those old days during WWII.

During the war years, since most of the McGill men were off to fight the war, many of the jobs were taken up by McGill moms.  My mother was one of these and she and June Robb took turns working at the old gas station. There were lots of women working at jobs at the KCC plant and I am sure, also at the Ruth pit area.  Kind of like McGill’’s version of the famous Rosy the Riveter

During the summer when my brother Paul and I were on parole from the local education facility, mom would take one of us to work with her.  The other brother had to stay home and do the housework for mom and other chores.  The first year was 1942 at which time I was 5 and Paul 8.

We both wanted to be at the station instead of staying home and doing housework, but it was wartime and you did what you were told.

We liked to help do some little tasks at eh station like sweep the driveway and the lube room.

Stations in those days were called service stations because that is what drivers got when they entered.  The attendant would put gas in, check the oil, tires and wash the windows every time.  We kids liked to stand on a mop bucket and wash the windows.  I can remember the stickers in the window that had a large A,B, or C on it.  That was the government stamp that signified how much gas the driver was allowed to have.  Each driver had a booklet that they handed over to the attendant to mark how many gallons of gas were put in the car.   The letter A, I believe was for most folks, B was for salesmen etc and C was for Doctors.  My memory could be wrong on this, but it gives you an idea of what it was like.

The driver also had to have the proper number of ration stamps for the gas.  Another little known fact was that there were other little booklets for tires.  Each tire had a serial number and was recorded in the book along with how many miles were driven on that tire.  The government had a lot of control over everything  involving transportation.  The US at that time was pretty much oil independent and so every gallon of gas was precious.

One of the side benefits of my mom working there, was that most tourists would tip her with gas ration stamps and not money.  This meant that we were never out of gas for our Model A Ford coupe.

I can still see the few new tires in the rack high on the wall in the lube room.  They were quite rare and were always wrapped in paper and tape.  They were never bare.

Motor oil was pumped into a glass container that had a long snout like metal  funnel on the end,  to help pour into the motor.

One of my fondest memories was the water fountain on the south side of the station.  It was supplied with that cold pure Duck Creek water from KCC.  Funny how such trivial things and be conjured up in one’s mind  and actually see them.  I always wondered how that was possible, since our eyeballs are on the outside and the memories are on the inside of our heads.  Amazing, huh?