There was this guy and his wife. They ran a Texaco service station in town. Their home was just behind the pumps and a two bay garage. Sometimes they’d sell Joey and me tickets when they weren’t going, face value box seat season holders since before the monuments. One of them would always pump the gas, no self service in those days, check under the hood? Checked the oil, front left looks a little low why don’t you drive over? We’ll fill it. We were just seventeen or eighteen, both of them were white haired and not yet feeble. But his face and neck had been corkscrewed pinks and reds. And one of his hands, pearl wax white wrung out like rubber a glove still twisted. One day we asked her and she explained someone had pulled in for a fill up, tossed a lit cigarette while he was pumping. They used to have perfect triangle pine trees at either end of the house and across the street instead of a highway was the entrance to an eighty acre city park, fountains, formal rose gardens, small stone bridges arched over clear running streams.
Years later another town another Texaco full service or self. Used to get my truck worked on, watched while I’d wait, his little girl and boy playing around in the driveway sometimes ride their tricycles. Now its a Mobil station and you can still get gas, no choice but to pump it your self and if you want; hot dogs, tacos, donuts, newspapers, coffee, lotto, butter, milk, eggs and you can still get a pack of Marlboro if you want to. And if any kid played in the drive way now? They’d probably get run over.
Back in the day when I first met this girl she told me about how she and a friend had plans for robbing a gas station. A full service Texaco, this one on the way out of town, run by an old fellow plenty of cash from travelers to New Haven. He was really old and lived in a trailer behind the pumps stayed open ’til after dark. I’m certain I talked her out of it, we talked of other things instead like getting married and living without our families, she became my first wife and as they say one mans saving is another mans hell or I guess you’d have to say purgatory