Guiding the Lost


This is Georgia’s going to town for a funeral outfit–to the “big” town 20 minutes away, the county seat where they have things like restaurants. Doesn’t this hat make her look as if she’s prepared to go motoring across the English countryside? We went to lunch after the funeral. She said, “I was the only one there wearing a hat.” At 78, she walks in the foreign land of people younger than her, a land she doesn’t quite understand. They weren’t wearing hats at the funeral! What’s wrong with them?!

And I find myself, at my age, not just her guide, but the guide to my teenage children, who also walk in a foreign land sometimes in this small town where we have “antiques” like gas pumps with no pay-at-the-pump slot. I am the in-between, the guide, the sandwich generation between Georgia’s childhood without TV and my children’s childhoods with the world wide web bred into their bones.

In our little town, we had a little gas station with a little old man who would come out and pump my gas. Full service!! No card slots in the machines. These are the machines I remember from my childhood. The only machines Georgia has ever known, and machines my children had never seen before in our former suburban lives. The first time they came with me to get gas, they were baffled when I didn’t jump out of the car. We sat there for a minute and finally one of them said, “Aren’t you going to get gas?” I said, “Yes.” The little old man came out and pumped my gas. My children nearly fell over with shock. I loved that little old gas station and the little old man. He always called me “honey” and if I wanted a bottle of water and a candy bar, he’d bring that out to the car for me, too. A few months ago, he retired due to health problems and we’re all waiting, hopefully, for someone to buy the gas station, and praying they’ll give full service, because we are all so spoiled.

Georgia got her gas at the little old gas station from the little old man for years and years. Before that, her husband (now deceased) got her gas for her, so she had to learn how to get her own gas after the little old gas station closed. Sometimes I get gas for her. The other day, after we had lunch and before we left the “big” town, we stopped by the gas station. I got out, pumped the gas, and got back in the car. Georgia said, “Aren’t you going to pay?” I said, “I already paid.” She stared at me, not unlike my children stared at me when I didn’t get out of the car to pump the gas myself the first time they came with me to the little old gas station. I explained, “I put my card in the slot and I paid at the pump.”

Georgia said, “Oh my. I didn’t know you could do that.”

I said, “You need to get the bank to give you a debit card.”

She said, “Oh no, no, no!”


  1. Bayou Woman says:

    Are you really cheerful! Or just being sarcastic?! We have ice in the ditches here, so it’s colder than we are accustomed to. I have water, so I don’t think we had a long, hard freeze yet. I remember those gas stations well. There is still one like that in the nearest town. They still “check under the hood” and even vacuum out my car, if I have the time!!! Now, that’s full service. I think I’ll do a post on that station! Thanks for the great idea.

  2. Jill says:

    I loved the pic of Georgia, she’s adorable.

  3. Fonda says:

    I actually worked at a small gas station like that for a short time the summer after graduating from high school. Many of the patrons even had their own charge accounts. Thanks for the post!

  4. mary beth says:

    GREAT story, Suzanne. Cheerful is good.

  5. Alice Audrey says:

    Time moves more slowly in your little town. Do you still have a drive in? It would be wroth the trip just to show my kids what I’ve been talking about.

  6. Kim A. says:

    I remember full service gas stations…Of course, I also remember when gas was about a quarter a gallon (I think!). Now it’s about $1 per 1 litre. Not sure what the gallon equivalent would be.

    Notice how we pay more and more for less service these days? In just about everything? Funny about that….

    Georgia seems like a real old doll, a sweetie. 🙂


  7. Norma says:

    Suzanne, we actually ran one of the “full service” stations many years ago. What memories!
    I am writing because I wanted to share a story of my WV grandmother who reminded me a lot of your Aunt. Grandma was 90+ and we all piled into my daughters SUV to go someplace-Grandma in the passenger seat. We were riding along and Grandma accidently hit the switch for the electric window. She said, Shari, something’s wrong, my window went down.” My daughter. knowing what had happened, reached for her own switch and said “That’s alright Grandma, I’ll take care of it.” Grandma’s reply was, “Well don’t worry about it because it already went back up by itself.”

  8. Mental Pause Mama says:

    Ah the good ol’ days…and they would check your oil for you. Why don’t we have to check the oil any more. And where are the grape NeHi drinks?

  9. kacey says:

    I want that corner gas station, complete with the little old man. I. Want. It.

  10. becki says:

    Georgia seems like a wise woman.


    What my own grandmother would have called “salt of the earth”.

    What’s her thinking of 52?

  11. Susan says:

    I would have been with Georgia saying, “Aren’t you going to pay?” 😆

  12. Granny Sue says:

    I remember that man at the gas station. I used to stop there when I would take 119 to work at Clendenin. That is a lovely drive.

    I’m with Georgia (is it pronounced Georgie? That’s the way most names that end in “ia” are pronounced in Jackson County). I prefer smaller and slower. We took our satellite out 2 years ago and don’t miss it. We have time to think again.

  13. catslady says:

    My husband has a hat just like that :mrgreen: I would give anything for a gas station like that. One of the nicest things my husband does for me is usally fill up my tank because I really hate figuring out what to do – how pathetic is that :no: We have a lot of the same weather as you – darn cold last night :cold:

  14. Tori Lennox says:

    ROFL!!! I can imagine some folks around here doing the same as Georgia. 🙂

  15. Estella says:

    I grew up with gas stations like that. Now we can pay at the pump, but in our state you can’t pump your own gas.

  16. Kim W says:

    We have both kinds of gas stations in our little rural town. We still have a full service station – complete w/the over-hang you drive under to get to the pumps (like on Andy Griffith’s show) and we have 2 other stations that are pay a the pump. However, the full service station IS more expensive.

    Yesterday, when we got up to go to church, I took the flashlight (as it was still dark) and looked outside at my little window thermometer…it was exactly 0 degrees!! EEEKKK!!! :weather: 😮 Today is a LITTLE better, but not much. Right now it’s still in the 20’s. Oh well, isn’t that what’s supposed to happen in the winter?

    Blessings from Ohio…

  17. Amy says:

    Loved your post and pictures, Suzanne. My kids would freak out if someone else came out to put gas in our car as well. We actually have one station in town that still does full service but I’m kinda skeered of it. *g*

  18. Mayberry Magpie says:

    What a lovely, lovely story. I wish I knew Georgia. But I know many ladies like her in Mayberry, and that’s why we moved home. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Granny Sue, her name is officially Georgia but many people around here fondly call her Georgie!

  20. kellypea says:

    This was a lovely post to read and brought a smile to my face. Much needed today. I’ve never lived in a small town, but am old enough to remember that there were service stations like this all over the place. Georgia is a very cute lady. My mom’s 70 now and occasionally I have to chide her about not being “up to date.” She does fairly well! Thanks again for the smile!

  21. Leslie M says:

    Suzanne, this is so well-written and such an accurate account of life in a small, rural town. I lived in one once. I miss it sometimes.

  22. Brandy says:

    I wish there were more small towns like this. I think times now are harsher, more impolite and ALOT less friendly. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Becky says:

    I remember that gas station! I stopped there on the way to visit my husband during one of my first trips to Spencer when we were dating. I pulled in and started to get out and the guy came out to pump my gas. I didn’t quite know what to do — do you tip him? (I did…)

    I stopped there to pick up snacks for the kids before a long road trip right before they closed, and all the food tasted like cigarette smoke. *gag*

    I am sad that it closed, though. You just don’t find full-service gas stations anywhere anymore!

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