03/02/13 - posted by Frank Dunnigan
In answer to Woody’s question, “Why do we love pictures of old gas stations so much?” I can only guess that it’s because there were so many of them in the past. Thinking of my own small corner of the world—say, Taraval, Vicente, West Portal—I can recall dozens upon dozens of gas stations in the 1950s & 60s. West Portal alone used to have Flying A, Shell, Union, Chevron, and Richfield. Motorists seldom had to drive more than a block or two between them, anywhere in the Outside Lands. Now most are gone, often replaced by yet another apartment building, and the convenience of a quick fill-up and a chat with the friendly staff is just no longer there.

Another reaction: look how clean that street is! Notice the small Department of Public Works trash can near the corner? The gas station employees contributed to the cleanliness of the neighborhood—no litter in the streets, no graffiti, no weeds popping up in the sidewalks and at the curb, and most of all, just a couple of cars being serviced—not a vehicle graveyard of rusting hulks that occupy some Taraval corners today.

It was a pleasant era for doing business, and how I’d like to jump into that scene and just stroll along the Taraval of the 1950s, stopping in at the Overland Pharmacy, the Parkside Paint Store, Hamill’s Hardware, and the Baronial Bakery, before catching a matinee at the Parkside…
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