The Full-Service Gas Station

Full service gas station of the 60’s

I grew up with dad preferring an Apco gas station in my hometown. He would pull in, the attendant would greet him by name, fill the car, wipe the windshield, check the tire pressures, and hand me a sucker. It was a little ritual I always looked forward to.

In 1973, a bunch of angry Arabs thought they would teach the US a lesson and cut off their oil. A lot of good effects actually came from that. It became imperative that vehicles get better gas mileage. It also made us conscious of alternative energy sources (although we have since slipped back into unconsciousness).

However, it unfortunately sounded the death knell for service stations, as they used to be known.

Gas station owners quickly saw the benefit of discounting gasoline with the option of self-service. After all, we were paying the shocking price of around fifty cents a gallon for gas! We happily would pump our own gasoline to save a quarter on the fill up.

It was a common sight in the later 70’s to see stations with self-service and full-service islands. However, even these began to dwindle, and nowadays it’s rare to have an attendant offer to fill your vehicle (except for Oregon and New Jersey, where it’s actually mandated by law).

I was flustered recently by the experience of a full-service station. I pulled into a Sinclair station in Springdale, Arkansas and stepped out to fill up. An attendant walked over and said “I’ll handle that, sir.” I actually forgot what I was supposed to do. I stood off to the side foolishly, and finally remembered that I needed to just sit in the driver’s seat and relax.

So if you want to experience full-service fill ups, look around. There are still a few out there. Just remember how to act once you pull in.

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