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The rise and fall of service stations in Woodburn

Service has gone away along with the stations that crowded Pacific Highway and other areas of Woodburn during the 1960s


I’m going to tell about some things from the 1960s. They called them service stations. They wanted your business, and they competed for it. They gave away pens and ashtrays, and they had price wars. They gave out Green Stamps, or Gold Bond Stamps, for each dollar you spent there. They had dishes that you could buy for $1.99 a set if you filled your tank. They gave out dolls from other countries for 99 cents each.by: SUBMITTED - Eddie Stein (left) and Tony Kahut exchange smiles on the grand opening day of Kahut Shell, owned by Tony Kahut, on Dec. 1, 1961. Kahut Shell was one of a number of service stations that popped up around Woodburn during the 1960s.

When you pulled into the station, someone would come out to fill your tank. He would also wash your windows, check your oil, check your transmission fluid, check you tire pressure and look at the water in you radiator, battery and windshield washer.

There was probably a bay where they did oil and lube jobs, and if they could actually hire a mechanic, they would fix your car. They also did washing and waxing.

Where were they? Well, they were scattered all along Pacific Highway. There were five of them by the Interstate 5 interchange, three on First Street, two on Front Street and at least one on Young Street.

They represented oil companies named Humble, Richfield, Enco, Standard Oil, Shell and Conoco. However, most of the stations had people’s names on them. There was Ole’s Texaco, Al’s Shell, Barney’s Union, Dick’s Richfield, Jamison Chevron, Jerry’s Texaco, Kahut’s Shell and, of course, the one without the name, but more well known, Hello World.

Where they were, we now mostly have empty lots as the tanks had to be dug up, and the ground cleaned of any gas or oil that might have spilled. Not only have the stations gone, but most of the service as well. I did get my windshield washed the other day, and I was almost too speechless to say “Thank you.”

When I wrote the article on the Oct. 12 storm last year, and the one on Civil Defense, I was reminded that the light we used to see us through was fueled by white gas. The service stations used to carry it, but now you can only buy it as Coleman fuel at the same stores that have difficulty selling anything without the electricity to run their electronic cash registers.

The big oil companies have managed to squeeze the others out of business, but I miss the Ole’s, Smitty’s, Hank’s and Pat’s, and the people that you used to know well as they gave you such good service. Hello, new world — I miss Hello World.



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  • 16 Sep 2014

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  • 17 Sep 2014

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