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Gas stations — not convenience stores

March 20, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

There are no more gas stations or service stations. There used to be one on every corner, and when the customer bought gasoline the service came with it.

The driver would sit in the car while the attendant pumped the gas, washed the windshield and checked the oil - and checked the tires too, if the customer asked. That might be for a buck's worth of gas, which came to about five gallons. And to buy bread and milk you had to go to a grocery store.

Just for a minute I'll go back to 1946 when I worked for Charlie Lavery at Lavery's Sunoco Station at 105 River St. Charlie had recently returned from World War II after fighting his way across Europe with Gen. Patton's Tank Corps.

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What a thrill to be there, listening to real war stories, not only from him but from other guys who had been through the war who would stop in to shoot the breeze - Big "Gunch" Hall, "Sy" Shelhamer or Charlie's brother-in-law, Al Benware.


We jump ahead to 1972

Peg Oldfield has given me a treasure trove of old telephone company books, which, with her permission, I will eventually turn over to the Saranac Lake Free Library. A few weeks ago in this space we did a column from a 1956-57 phone book on loan to me from Holly Chabbott. They really are local history books of people and businesses.

Some of the "gas stations" in the Tri-Lakes are listed in the 1972-73 telephone directory.

Remember Ray's (Amell) Esso Service in Bloomingdale - specializing in "Bear" Wheel Alignment and Balancing. Len's (Leclair) Bear Service had his alignment equipment at his garage on Church Street Extension in Saranac Lake. I used to work with Len at Carr & Dyer's Dodge and Plymouth Agency.

Charles and John DeLancett were partners in the Main Line Garage at 127 River St. They advertised not only auto repairs but as "automobile electricians."

Bernie's River Street Chevron Station at 14 River St.; Bob's Gas & Grocery (in Lake Clear); John Brewster had his Gulf Station at 57 River St., which used to be owned by Howard Benham. Remember, this was all before the new highway was built when the lake side of River Street had a thriving business section and a bathing beach.

Dave Martelle had bought out Charlie Lavery at 105 River Street and was open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Lionel Vaughn operated the Arco Station at 26 Lake Flower Ave. (where Billy Allen's recent Boot Bay Motors was located).

Dukett's Mobil Stations were located at 70 River St. and 171 Broadway and featured not only automobile repairs but represented the U-Haul franchise and gave S&H Green Stamps. Lee Flint and Bill Oliver had a Gulf Station on Church Street Extension with "factory trained" mechanics.

Lavery's Sunoco Station had moved to 172 Broadway (where the Credit Union is today); the Riverside Garage was at 28 Woodruff St. and operated by George Paye; I believe it was mostly truck service. The Double N Service Station was at 27 Main St.


Tupper Lake

Al's Tupper Lake Esso Station was at 36 Wawbeek Avenue; Bombard's Arco Service at 198 Park; Jerry's Arco Station at 56 Demars Blvd.; Downtown Arco operated by LaValley and Woulf at 93 Main Street; the Faust Esso Service operated by Lawrence Quesnel was located at 73 Main St. and Irv's Service Center was a Mobil Station located at 3 Main Street.

LeRoy's Sunoco Station was at 82 Main Street; Luke's Mobil Station was at 241 Park and Pat's Sunoco was at 287 Park; the Sunmount Service Station was at Hosley and Park and Top Gas was on Demars Blvd.


Lake Placid

Among those listed in Lake Placid, there was my friend John Rickard's Adirondack Auto Sales and Texaco Service located at 98 Main Street; the Arena Service Station at 219 Main St.; the Central Garage at 249 Main St.; Arnie's Service Center at 69 Saranac Ave.; Gene's Shell Service at 211 Main St.; Don's (Whitimore) Sunoco at 417 1/2 South Main; Perkins Esso Station was at 359 Main St. and Strack's Star Service, an Arco Station, was at 76 Main St.

This is by no means meant to be a complete list of all the stations operating at the time and many ads did not list the ownerssome are still operating; and many are under new ownership, but many are gone forever.



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