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Harry and Ray Tann’s Gasoline Station and Tire Shop

Today we travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a late-1940s view of Harry and Ray Tann’s filling station and tire shop. Unless this is a staged photo, the brothers had a very busy enterprise located on a corner lot in an unknown location in the City. The structure appears to be a converted house with an added canopy and signs. More attention-getting neon signage is at the front corner of the lot. The station handled Standard Oil products.

View over two-hundred other vintage filling station related images in the Gasoline Station Series. Tell us all about what interests you in this photograph courtesy of UWMilwaukee.

26 responses to “Harry and Ray Tann’s Gasoline Station and Tire Shop

  1. Ray Tann Tires is still in business on 10th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee. It doesn’t look anything like the gas station in this picture. Although partially hidden by a street sign, it looks like a Milwaukee retail outlet, Schuesters Department store is featured with savings stamps given along with purchases at the gas station. Shuesters became Gimbel – Shuesters for a while before going out of business sometime in the 90’s.

    • A close look at the sign reflects the spelling as “Schuster” and according to some web sources Schuster’s Milwaukee department store is given credit for initiating the saving stamp industry in around 1890.

  2. Boy, this post rings a bell. Growing up in Milwaukee, the Tann gas and tire company have been around for almost 80 years, and still in business today. They show 2 locations today, one on Oklahoma Ave. ( Ray Tann) and one on Forest Home Ave. ( Harry Tann) Can’t find any info on whether they split, but this image, by the surroundings, looks to be the Forest Home Ave. location. Also, Shuster was a department store in Milwaukee, and gave out stamps, like S&H, and later became Gimbel-Shuster. My grandmother worked at Gimbels.

    • I found an old Milwaukee Sentinel article from 1977 that mentions the original Harry Tann site was at S. 16th and W. Forest Home from 1935-1977, and moved in February 1977 to 1802 W. Forest Home. The Oklahoma Ave site might be older, since a Modern Tire Dealer article from 2001 says that the Ray Tann company is 69 years old, which would date it to 1932. Ray Jr took over from Ray Sr in 1975, and Ray Sr passed away in 2005. At some point between 2001 and now, Ray III took over from Ray Jr. While I haven’t found older records, I suspect there was someone involved before Ray Sr, because he would have been only 10 in 1932 (so either there was someone who handed it off to him, or the dates are wrong).

      • My grandparents lived on the south side in the ’40’s – 1980. Grandpa and probably everyone else bought tires from the Tann’s. Many of the streets where this photo could have been taken have been widened since the ’40’s. Many are boulevards now, eliminating a lot of places like this one. I really like the neon signs, pumps, air meters an other nostalgia but to the neighbors, this business must have been a bit of an eyesore. And the steel tanks often leaked underground. I heard a story once of utility work taking place across the street from an old gas station in town. There was so much gasoline in the ground that when the backhoe nicked a stone it made a spark and started the trench on fire.

  3. A dark color Nash 600 fastback sedan and an unknown make sedan delivery stand out among the Chevys and Plymouths. Ethyl Regular 21.9/gallon, small wonder they were busy! Anyone heard of or remember Schuster Stamps? The pump island canopy added to the corner of what was obviously once a private home makes this even more appealing, something seen in a bygone era.

    • The 21.9 cent gasoline, inflation adjusted is equivalent to $2.29 today, about what we are paying for gas in Texas now. The lowest gas price I’ve ever seen was 17.9 cents in Lubbock in 1966-68. That’s about $1.39 today and roughly equal to the all time low gasoline prices of 1998.

    • Actually, 58, 21.9 was the regular price. The ethyl price, which we can’t see, was probably 24.9 cents. I remember for many years, there was a 3 cent difference in price.

  4. I see what appears to be “Schuester stamps” available at this station? As valuable as S&H? I had never heard of that variety of stamp before.

    • Schuster’s was the first retailer to offer trading stamps, 5 years before S&H started. They were store-specific, so more similar to Parke’s Blue Point than the multi-store Green Stamps.

  5. in the center, the chevrolet ’47 wear spats. spats replace wall white tires after WWII witch can’t be find.
    ( in ’46 first cars sold hasen’t spare tires due to restriction).
    spats are fix on place of whell trim ring

    • Hi Eric, Wisconsin isn’t always cold and snowy, ( like some people may think). In the summer, it routinely gets into the 80’s.

  6. If you compare the houses in the background of your pic with those in this one, you will see more than a vague similarity? The linked photo is of Ray Tann Tire at 980 Oklahoma Av in Milwaukee

  7. One unique feature is the Air dispenser with “window crank handle to “Dial in the desired Tire pressure on the front panel. When the tire Pressure was reached, it rang a bell ! These are now “bringing a bundle of money” on the distorted Internet Antique Automobiliana market!

  8. I worked at the Harry Tann gas station on 16 th and Forest Home, which is the one pictured , when I was in high school. Gas was 29.9 at the time but we sold more tires than gas. Harry Tann Sr. And his wife worked the cash register inside, while Junior supervised the help. Senior was always chomping on a big cigar and counting the money and making change. It was a great experience for a 16 year old kid.

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