My wife (for 45 years) Gwen and I were discussing the old days when a person would drive their car up to a service station, ask for three or four gallons of gas, and get untold service with it.
Her father, the late W. A."Bill" Lindop, was owner and operator of a gasoline and service station located on the main street in Minden, Ont. and was well known throughout the Haliburton area.
"I vividly recall my father putting gas in a car and then, without asking the owner, would automatically lift two clasps on the side of the car hood, raise it up and pull out the oil dipstick and check on the oil level. If the oil needed topping up he would draw it to the attention of the owner and would reach for a glass bottle containing either a pint or quart of oil and top 'er up. Then it was customary to check the water level in the battery and radiator and, naturally wipe off the windshield. Of course if it was winter time it meant checking the strength of the anti-freeze to ensure it was sufficient to prevent the block or radiator from freezing up and bursting. Then it was on to checking the air pressure in the tires.
"Where do you get service like that to-day?" she asked.
Gwen went on to relate how difficult it was, during the war years, for service station operators to obtain supplies to keep vehicles on the road since replacement parts were so hard, if not practically impossible, to obtain." I can remember Dad placing orders with Norm Kay, (who worked for an auto supply dealer in Lindsay) and sometimes less than half of the order would come through. Gasoline was rationed, tires could only be supplied to customers if they had a "priority" rating as laid down by the government, and when he would order perhaps fifty gallons of Prestone he'd be lucky if he got ten "she said.
I recall "Bill" telling me how difficult it was to have a person come into his garage and tell him he needed a new tire and having to refuse the customer's request even though he had about ten new tires sitting up on a rack "They just didn't have priority as, for example, a doctor would" he told me.
Tourists who would come up north to their cottages would come to Lindop's garage seeking out new tires and according to Bill the tires on their car were so bad that even putting a "boot" in them wouldn't help much. He told me that there were times when he would retrieve a worn out tire from his scrap heap and put it on a car simply because it was better than the one they had on and then "I'd pray to God they'd get back home safely" he said.
When was the last time you received service like that on a two or three dollar gasoline purchase?
Oh, just as a matter of interest, Bill introduced the first "Delco Electric Plant" in the County of Haliburton!