Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Location unknown, somewhere in America

This photo is on loan to me from a good friend who knows it is somehow connected with her family, but she is unsure exactly how. It was in an old trunk, along with a variety of tin types and cabinet cards, and the owner, knowing of my friend’s interest in family history sent them on to her. Well, my friend, knowing my interest in old photos sent them on to me.

For this week’s Sepia Saturday submission, I give you an old service station called Prest-O-Lite. They offered a standard size full capacity rubber case battery for $10.50. Note the old cars to the left and right of the business, and the business to the right is a tire store. There’s a sign on the picket fence to the left that says “ladies restroom.” I can only assume the men had one somewhere else…I hope! Anyone who knows anything about old cars is welcome to comment with information. This photo brings to mind how people used to service their own vehicles and make them last as long as possible, something we don’t really have the luxury of doing easily anymore. Autos are so complex that the independent service station has almost gone by the wayside. There are specialty shops for older models of Fords, BMWs, German cars, etc. but with all the electronics in the engine these days, it’s easier to take the car in to the dealer and pay the extra money, versus hoping Larry down on the corner knows what he’s doing.

Click through to Sepia Saturday to visit storefronts and more from around the world!

15 thoughts on “Old Service Station

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    “More than one thousand Prest-O-Lite Service Station Managers are ready to prove to you that Prest-O-Lite Service is thoroughly organized to relieve you of your battery worries.” A 1926 ad.

    The sign reads “Barnett’s Auto Electic Co.” The only reference I found was a place in Redlands, California.

    Like

    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Redlands is actually pretty close to where we live, if you consider California is larger than Maryland and Delaware combined. :-) I’ll have to let her know that. She may be able to track the people in her family that way.

      Like

  2. Martin says:

    I’m just waiting for Bonnie and Clyde to draw up on the forecourt. Great photograph.

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  3. Bob Scotney says:

    Great old cars; service garages like this have died out in the UK too although one still hangs on in our village I’m pleased to say.

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  4. postcardy says:

    That’s a great old American roadside photo with cars, signs and people. I like the location too–“somewhere in America.”

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  5. I know nothing about cars, but aren’t they beautiful?!

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  6. Tattered and Lost says:

    So rare to find storefronts with so much detail. This shows the whole piece of property. Fascinating!

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  7. Liz Stratton says:

    I know there are a LOT of city directories in California but, by narrowing down the possibilities, you might find a few service stations and then look for family names in these same communities. Sometimes directories gave both the person’s home and work address.

    Great post! I actually still use a local garage and save a bundle vs. getting serviced at the dealer. :)

    Like

  8. Alan Burnett says:

    Marvelous. Such photographs are packaged history. A good history teacher could take an image like this and base a term’s coursework around it. The very essence of economic and social history fixed onto photographic paper.

    Like

  9. Jo says:

    A good old-fashioned garage – I can almost smell the oil, and I love the big old convertible on the right! Jo

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  10. Christine says:

    What a great old-fashioned garage. It reminds me of the old service stations in the ’60s, where you’d drive up and they’d wash all the windows and often you’d get some sort of prizes with a fill-up too.

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  11. gluepot says:

    Masters of marketing – what a wonderful quality photograph.

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  12. Photos like this are what makes the sepia era so interesting. I doubt that collectors of the future will be going through photos of today’s mini-mart with as much enthusiasm.

    Like

  13. Apparently they just did repairs to batteries..not a gas pump in sight. Very Interesting old photo..love the cars:)

    Like

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