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It was Amoco

July 12th, 2012 at 07:03 am

I mentioned in my last post the fond memories I had spending time in my grandfather's gas station. I guess it just goes to show that you don't need to spend big bucks on music lessons or summer camp to provide your children with happy memories.

The place always seemed to have a layer of black grease on everything and there was that smell of gasoline and oil. My good-natured grandfather would always be wearing filthy overalls covered with black smudges. But it was his friendly presence and kidding ways that stay with me always.

I couldn't remember the brand of gas he sold so I HAD to look it up. I have a priceless black-and-white photo of him standing with his foot on the running board of his pick-up in the 1960s. The gas station sign is behind him.



I remember he had a sandwich sign out by the road that advertised the price of gas. It was .29 a gallon!!

My grandmother did not work at that point, but every day at noon she would bring him his lunch in a brown paper bag and sit with him while he ate his sandwich. Sometimes, if he was underneath a car, she would go out and pump gas for customers. New Jersey is one of the few states where by law, customers cannot pump their own gas.

I don't think of my grandmother as a feminist, but in those days it seemed unusual for a woman to pump gas.

My (paternal) grandfather's first service station was in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, which is where my mother's parents lived also. Then he bought a station out "in the country" on Rt. 202 in Wayne. They bought a brick ranch house in Lincoln Park at the end of a dirt dead-end road with woods surounding the house on two sides. It was a very long, steep hill down to Rt. 202 and I do remember sledding on it. Across the street is where one of the Little Rascals grew up; his parents always remained there. I don't recall which one of the Rascals because I never watched the show.

These towns are hardly rural anymore but I will always think of them this way. At one time, my parents kept a sheep named "Lambchops" at their house, which was down the hill from my dad's parents.

The other really intriguing thing about this photo is the other sign in the background that says "Brogan." I'm not sure when this photo was taken. It could have been before I was born. But, highly coincidentally for me, "Brogan" is Brogan Cadillac, a car dealership in Ridgewood, NJ. It just so happens that my very best friend's father was a salesman at Brogan Cadillac. He worked there many years, even after his legs were paralyzed following a bad car accident.

My friend and I would sometimes take the train from our home in Mahwah (I lived with her family for one year as a teenager) to Ridgewood for some shopping, and we would drop in on her father.

Ahh, one memory leads to another. Here is another cherished photo I have of all 4 of my grandparents and my parents at a Frank Sinatra concert:



My paternal grandfather, the mechanic and a German immigrant, is on the left. He was a very good man. He was the first of my grandparents to die (stroke) when I was 16 years old. Next to him is my Irish grandmother.

Next to her, in the back, is my maternal grandfather (Polish). He worked all his life in a US Rubber factory making rubber fire hoses, but his real talent was woodworking and marquetry. He was the only grandparent that I am sad to say I was not close to. He was a very crotchety old man and was always cross and gruff with my grandmother. While he always gave my mother, sister and I money when he won the lottery big a few times, he never gave his love.

On the right, in the back, is my beloved grandmother (Polish). She was the one I loved the most.

Next to her, on the right, are my mother and father. They all strike me as so handsome, especially Fred, my German grandfather.

In the 1940s, the FBI came a knocking at my grandparents home. They were there to question my grandfather, solely because he was of German ancestry. The war was on, and I guess the country was pretty paranoid.



14 Responses to “It was Amoco”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    What beautiful memories! You are right...the best memories are not of store bought things, but time spent with those who you love and who love you.

    My mom worked at a factory during the war...basically unheard of until then. Seems in our little town, they were making "something" for the atomic bomb, but didn't know what.

  2. Miz Pat Says:

    I am glad you have these cherished memories. Today it feels bittersweet because my own childhood was one of abuse, but then i think Thank God for all his blessings and thank God that there are families like yours. They are so wonderful-thank you for sharing

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. patientsaver Says:

    Oh, Miz Pat. I know the feeling of seeing families that appear "perfect" on the outside. Please be assured that nearly every family experiences hardship and some amount of inner turmoil.

    My family is no exception. My Irish grandmother (2nd from left in the photo) was, we think, the victim of sexual abuse by her step-father. She had a very unhappy childhood and ran away from home more than once. You just didn't talk about those things in her time.

    My maternal grandparents' marriage was, as I alluded, not a happy one. From what my grandmother told me, he had at least one affair early in the marriage. I remember seeing him one last time when he was dying in the hospital from leukemia. (He was a 2 pack a day Camel smoker, nonfiltered.) He reached out to me with an anguished look on his face as I stood in the doorway, afraid to venture in. My grandmother spoke reassuringly to me, and only then did I go to his bedside.

    My parents divorced when I was six and among my happy memories are vivid memories of my father taking my sister and I to live with his parents, without my mother's knowledge or consent. Then there followed at least 2 attempts by my mother with her then boyfriend to take us back by physical force. One of those events occurred at the gas station I spoke of earlier. These memories, like the good ones, are burned into my brain.

    There was at least a decade in my 20s when I had no contact with my father. This, I know, had lasting effects on my self-confidence as a young woman.

    I think there is probably always a degree of unhappiness from our past. It seems unavoidable. But the only thing you can do is try to rise above it.

    HUGS

  5. rachel021406 Says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Ima saver Says:

    I loved the pictures. You had a very handsome family. My grandparents were born in Ireland. I married a man with polish grandparents and my last name is polish.

  7. Miz Pat Says:

    Oh my goodness, i didn't expect you to share such painful memories and yet i feel very touched by you reaching out this way.

    I learned months back that my father molested my niece and nephew when they were just babies and since he was the parent that i thought loved me a little, i was pretty much devastated. It's like finding out my parents were serial killers. I am still out of it - thank you so much for sharing. You have touched me deeply and brought a little healing into the mix as well

  8. PNW Mom Says:

    What a really cool picture! Thanks for sharing!

  9. MonkeyMama Says:

    Great Pictures! Thanks for sharing.

    @MizPat - we were just digging through old photos and my dh did an astounding video for my parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary. What I find interesting about these things is the natural tendency is to focus on the good and skip over the bad. Of course, one is blessed if they have a lot of good memories to reminisce about. But, if we had to make some videos about all the screwed up people and events in my family and dh's family could do pretty well with that. I honestly think *anyone* could. Wink

  10. NJDebbie Says:

    Great pictures; thanks for sharing. You are right, Lincoln Park and Wayne, NJ are hardly rural now. These two towns flood badly nowadays.

  11. Miz Pat Says:

    Smooches to Monkey Mama for being a sweetie

  12. patientsaver Says:

    that's true, Deb. I nearly added that nearly the entire town of Lincoln Park is in a flood plain.

  13. Swimgirl Says:

    Geez. We all have some crazy stories, probably! But that is a wonderful picture in front of the gas station!

  14. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Great pictures!
    Like others have said, every family has its good and bad. My brother remarked to me a few years ago that our family's story would make a good soap opera ...

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