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Pete’s Service: Seaside Gasoline Station and Video – Willow Glen, California

Pete’s Service Station was located in Willow Glen, California which is now a neighborhood of San Jose and is located in the southwestern part of the City. The 1930s service station architecture with a glass front and sides were commonly seen in “The Golden State” until the 1940s.

The small station used three pumps, two of which dispensed leaded grades of Seaside Gasoline. The promotional photo presumably shows Pete and two of his customers at the pumps and another in a 1933 to ’34 Ford sedan. We will rely on our knowledgeable readers to date and identify the other cars in this scene.

The Seaside Oil Company was established in 1898 in San Francisco and sold refined oil products and gasoline originating from wells in Santa Barbara and Summerland located on the southern coast of California just north of Los Angeles. The company was acquired by Phillips Petroleum in 1966. The photo is courtesy of  Willow Glen Charm.

For an entertaining and colorful view of street scenes and cars in action, watch the video “Life in Willow Glen” below up to the 2:30 second mark. The neighborhood’s Fire House and a San Jose fire truck can be seen in action starting at 3:50.    

16 responses to “Pete’s Service: Seaside Gasoline Station and Video – Willow Glen, California

  1. Pete looks the grease-monkey part alright. The car in the station is a 1937/38 Chrysler product I’d say by the fenders, and I would guess a 1937 DeSoto. The Ford fordor is a 1933/34 of course, and the coach in back is unknown to me. It could well be a ’30 or ’31 Oldsmobile. What caught my attention was the two door style and the low roof line, looking almost like the top had been chopped.

  2. My first thought was that the two door sedan on the right was a ’31 or ’32 Dodge Brothers. I remember reading that Dodge was one of the last holdouts to use wooden artillery wheels by keeping them available as factory-supplied equipment till 1936.

  3. I’m struck by how the three cars show how quickly automotive design was changing. They represent a spread of maybe seven years, but they go from wooden artillery wheels to spokes to essentially modern solid disks. Vertical windshields to sloped. Radiator shell to full grill. It’s a remarkable transformation given the time involved.

  4. Well. I grew up near and in Willow Glen starting shortly after that film was made. I don’t know how many people would actually want to watch the entire 48 plus minutes? But I did. I recognized so many places, stores we shopped in, the park I walked to just a few years later, and many of the streets, I would remember to this day. I may have even seen my high school counselor (about fifteen years later) working in one of the movie theater scenes!
    I had aunts, uncles, and cousins living and shopping in that area during that time. I looked, but don’t think I saw any of them. Given the number of people at the various events shown, it actually could be likely for someone else I know to have been caught on film?
    At about 01:48, there is a nice 1929ish Packard sedan with a car full of kids. I tried to look, but could not see Jack Passey in the car. I think his shop was only about a half mile from where that part was filmed. It would have been great if he was in the car.

    The gasoline station picture was also very interesting. I remember several of that type around the area when I was growing up. One of the nicest was about a mile from Willow Glen, near downtown San Jose. It hd stayed in remarkable condition well into the ’70s. San Jose had a large chunk of land that belonged to the Parks Department. When work began to clear space for a new freeway (about 1980), San Jose dedicated this chunk of property to become a “History Park”. Along with numerous historic buildings, many nice houses, private collections put on permanent display, that wonderful old survivor gasoline station was moved, and restored for permanent display.
    A place well worth visiting (especially this weekend when the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club hosts their annual Annual “Antique Autos in History Park” on Saturday.)

  5. The Antique Autos in History Park takes place Sept. 9, 2017. They get 180 stock pre ’45 autos. I don’t know of
    any other events in Cal. where unmolested earlier cars can assemble with entry for free. The setting is complemented
    by buildings with historical backgrounds that have been relocated there and tree lined lanes. Steam trains and an operating trolley (free rides) make great settings. Each year they have themes for exhibits. One year they had a team
    assemble a Model T from a jumble of parts to a running car in 9 1/2 minutes. Another year they had 8 steam cars of
    different years and makes operating for all to see. I won’t tow a car this year, but will travel 5 1/2 hours to sample the fun.

  6. The temperature was: Moderate: (the ’33 or ’34) Ford’s windshield was not cranked open — nor was its cowl vent open. The “dress-up “guys still had their coats on. It looks like: the station had an: Outside: “Lube Rack” Hydraulic Paralllel Beam Chassis Lift with a Lean – To cabinet for Oil, Grease Greasing tools & Supplies — Judging by the Grease on the Attendant’s pants, — he does way more Services — than: Gas, water, air, & oil. Many places in California , – have mild enough weather — to have (had ) a lube rack —outside. Edwin W.

  7. A few additional clues in the photo: The shadows in front of the subjects indicate a time of day at noon or early afternoon; the clock vaguely looks like it might be 1:30(?)pm; the palm tree behind is clearly blowing in the wind, indicating the Bay Area springtime afternoon winds, that typically kick in around 1:30……

    The “bullet holes” in the first car seem more like the standard exposed front door hinges of those days..unless the guy on the right with the fedora was a private “dick,” who pumped some lead into that car, before he pumped some leaded “hi-test” ethyl into his own……

    I dunno…There’s still no dame in the picture….’Ya get me?

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