From the beginning of the automobile age, we had convenient stations which supplied every need pertaining to our new found mode of transportation.  We no more than maneuvered the machine underneath the shelter when an attendant, attired in a uniform, was present to pump the $2.00 worth of gasoline, check the oil and tire pressure, clean the windshield and even brush the floor mats with a whisk broom. 

Many of the vehicles of the day were prone to “burning oil.”  If the dipstick showed that this was the case; the attendant reached for a quart jar with a galvanized funnel-shaped spout attached and proceeded to fill it from a barrel in back of the service bay. 

On top of the barrel was a hand crank.  When the spout was positioned, the crank was turned “THREE TIMES”.  Without fail; three turns equaled one quart.

The jar and spout was used over and over, (recycled); as was the barrel.  There were no empty cans or plastic containers to clog landfills.  The supplier simply filled the oil barrel whenever they made a delivery of gasoline. 

As a general rule, the attendants could diagnose and remedy many problems that would preclude a visit to the local mechanic.  If the problem was not serious enough to require more than a simple adjustment, there was usually no additional charge.

Things changed dramatically with the introduction of “Self-Service Stations.” Even though there were no paid attendants, the owners discovered that the revenue from the sale of gasoline alone was not sufficient to guarantee the desired income. 

Thus, a line of groceries, over-the-counter drugs, magazines, beverages and baked goods were added.  Names like “Quick-Stop,” “Stop & Shop,” “Bee-Line,” “Circle-Q,” and “Whiz-Through” replaced signs that read simply “Al’s Filling Station.”

Tons of plastic oil containers, Styrofoam cups, cardboard packaging material and the like are generated from these convenience centers each week.  Landfills are being choked to the point that recycling is being mandated in many areas.

Additionally, the removal of the wooden benches, located underneath the shelter prohibits the gathering of local citizens to discuss any and all major news happenings, both local as well as worldwide.  From these, ‘gathering places’ sometimes, heated discussions produced many solutions to local and political problems; even from laws introduced by representatives of state and national governments. 

The designation of these groups became known as the “Sons of Rest.”  The benches were generally occupied by the senior citizens of the day while youngsters sat on the curb at their feet and learned topics which were not taught in classrooms.     

I suppose that it’s too much to hope for to return to the days of attended Service Stations; to say nothing of the “TWENTY-FIVE CENT GASOLINE:”  But it may just be possible to replace the plastic oil containers with a barrel and a pump that dispenses exactly one quart with only three turns of the handle. 

Another plus would be the installing of benches for today’s “Sons of Rest.”  While their teachings would not replace the high standards of today’s schools; it very well could instill in them a little common sense.

HEY:  “Why don’t we try it???”     “What have we got to lose?”