If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the family car driving across a small black rubber hose as you entered the local service station. They weren’t called gas stations back then, they were service stations. As you drove over the hose, you heard a ding as the front tires crossed, dong as the rear tires crossed. That was the sound that the mechanic heard as his customer rolled into the station. By the time you arrived at the pumps, the mechanic was right there. In our neighborhood it was Mr. Bakker. With a smile he’d ask, "What will it be?" The response was somewhere between $3 and $10. No one had the money to fill it up. While the gas was pumping, Mr. Bakker opened the hood to check the oil, water, battery and washed the windows; always timing it perfectly so that he was at the pump handle at the exact moment to click it off. Dad would hand him the money through the window, and Mr. Bakker would always say, "Thanks, and have a nice day." – and he meant it. During the great gas wars my mother collected sets of glasses and dishes from Mr. Bakker’s service station just for buying gas. If we rode our bike up the hill to the station, Mr. Bakker would lend us a tire gauge so we could get the right amount of free air in our tires. He'd usually warn us not to over fill the tires because they might explode.

I’m not really being nostalgic. I just wanted to get the point across that from the time the first Model T rolled off the assembly line until the late 1970s, that was the bar for service.

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