Fifty or so years ago, atop Butler Hill sat a real, honest-to-goodness gas station.
A station young boys would pass on their bikes, slowing to watch other young boys race out, wearing company shirts with tire gauges and pens stuck in the pockets just below their embroidered name.
A station where service with a smile was a given, and the extra mile was just jogged to, a place where you never left without everything from your tire pressure to the dip stick being checked.
You were always confident you’d make it to point B.
It was a station where older boys and men with fast cars would gather in the late hours of Saturday afternoon, smokes rolled up in their T-shirt sleeves, arms bearing the names of unknown women tattooed through a heart, forever a mark of first love. A spot where men poured whiskey in soda bottles, told naughty stories, laughed aloud and spit just to spit.
Where low slung Mercurys with headed exhaust would erupt with power so loud, it rattled the windows of the old Butler house across the road, and the sheriff would drive by and tell all concerned to “tone it down, before the neighbors called,” and Duane Loveless would cruise up on his English motorcycle, always with a sweatered girl with pants too tight holding on with joy.
Instead of having the deadly fear needed to survive his quest to be faster than fast, the sheriff waved his ticket book as he left, knowing he’d have one or maybe two more to write-up before the sidewalks rolled up and all was quiet.
Sadly, the yet nameless generation coming up will never know of these wondrous adventures of life, having succumbed to the “mini-marts” with catchy names and the roll me in, roll me out attitude that works so well with fast food, and the “have a nice day” smiley face school of brain-washing.
The school totally responsible for the “doing my time” attitude that seeps through us like a wasted moment of kindness we should have passed on instead of hoarding it like a pack rat or an old man grasping straws of memory that never should have left him.
Fortunately in Craig, we have Craig Conoco, and a station where service with a smile and the dedication of the 70 or so young boys that have worked there the past 28 years still shines through.
It’s a place where the owner will stop for a moment, smile and pay attention to a moment of babble or a serious question about your car or truck. Of course, you can’t spit just to spit, but Denny will give you an exhaust that will rattle the courthouse windows across the road and, if you don’t like the price of gas, Denny will gladly sell you the station and you can charge whatever you want.
I’m not really sure about Labor Day being a holiday, though I do get the need for a lasting weekend to ditch town and the painful crud of adulthood. I just can’t hold onto a holiday that seems to celebrate the corporate end of union labor and not the other end.
I do, however, understand and grasp with a heavy heart Sept. 11, or Patriots Day. It’s meaningless to me what your particular brand of politics is or where you stand on any issue, but it does matter that our Republic has suffered and is suffering losses from the war against terrorism.
So, as a matter of pride in and honor for those who have fallen and “the Republic for which we stand,” fly our flag, say a prayer and be thankful for where you live.
Hey, you be careful out there.