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Vintage Gas: A Set of Three Interesting Filling Station Images

We begin our “Vintage Gas” filling station coverage today with a 1960s view of a modern Clark Super 100 facility. Clark Super Gas was established in 1932, one of the most difficult years of the Great Depression when Emory T. Clark constructed a gasoline station for a customer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was unable to pay him for his services.

To recoup his investment Clark opened the station himself and in time built others and developed the enterprise into a very successful midwestern chain marketing only high test premium fuel. By the 1970s Clark Oil Corp. owned and operated close to fifteen-hundred filling stations and has survived until today. Learn more about Clark Oil’s history here.

Share with us what you find of interest in this set of photos and view over two-hundred other vintage service stations in our earlier coverage. The images are via The Great American Gas Station.

  • This Post-War photo taken in an unknown location contains four dealerships and two filling stations.

  • And we finish up here today with this 1938 image of interurban lunch car converted into a Standard Oil filling station in Michigan. 

39 responses to “Vintage Gas: A Set of Three Interesting Filling Station Images

      • Will,

        Thanks for the clue. Checked the difference of the two [Super vs. Dynamic] and you’re correct, along with a few other who also identified the car as a Super.

        AML

      • Hi Will, if it’s at a Clark station, I’d bet it was a “Super 88”. I read, they had the “Ultra High Compression” 394, ( Dynamic 88 had a 2 barrel) that would have required Clark premium, except in my old mans case. He put up with the pinging in his Oldsmobiles because he wouldn’t sport the extra 4 cents/ gallon..

  1. In the Lead Photo appears to be a ’62 Olds Super 88 Holiday Coupe. I recall Clark sold only premium gasoline…and with the exception of cans of oil, nothing else.

    In Item 1 of 2, a Chevy and Cadillac dealer at the corner and beyond and to the left, at the least, a Plymouth dealer…though likely paired with Chrysler or DeSoto…with Mobilgas pumps At that corner possibly a ’40 or ’41 Chevy Sport Sedan and maybe a ’49 or ’50 Ford parked diagonally.

    In Item 2 of 2 those remind me of Standard Oil crowns on the pumps.

  2. I worked one summer at a Clark station on US 12 between St. Paul MN and Hudson, WI. That later became I-94. That was a lot of fun. The owner would deduct any shortages in the till from our checks equally. One guy always came up $20. short while the rest of us balanced. We got to subsidize his sticky fingers. All manner of people came though there. Memorable were the groups of Gypsies. Two brand new Chev pickups pulling brand new really nice house trailers and an Eldorado convert with Grandma sitting in the back seat watching the younger kids. I would fill both trucks and the Eldo and the guy would pull cash off of a big roll!

  3. Great images David. I particularly like the second image as about that same time I was riding my first bike,a ’48 ,around the block and through the pumps at neighborhood Sinclair station looking for any excuse to peek inside the service bay of air up those baloon tires.

  4. Nice shiny `62 Olds Super 88 in the first image. Probably pretty close to new. I have to wonder what all the kids & their bikes are doing at the station in the second image; soda pop half price?

  5. Ok, this is pretty creepy. 1st, a picture of the McDonalds near my parents, and now the Clark station. I’d bet dollars to donuts, this was the Clark station on Appleton Ave. and Capitol Dr. in Milwaukee, across the street from the McDonalds. If this is Milwaukee, and it looks exactly like it, my parents house would be right over the Olds roof. We didn’t have Sunoco in Wisconsin, and Clark was the only true 100 octane fuel. They only sold premium, matter of fact, their motto was “Clark, the Premium People” and was colored red. We called it “cherry juice”. ALL the hot cars got ( a lot) of gas at Clark. We’d ride our bikes and watch. Naturally, as soon as the hot cars got a fresh load of fuel, they pulled out onto Appleton Ave. and usually let ‘er go. 2nd pic, I see the Cadillac dealer sold IH trucks, as well, and I’m not sure the bottom pic is all gas station and may not even be an actual rail car. Many diners had this style to mimic train travel, which was huge at the time, and they sold gas as a side line. I remember several in Wisconsin like this.

    • Howard, if in fact that IS the station near your folk’s house, in `62 would you have already been in bed as a young kid since it’s dark?

    • OK Howard, I’ll raise you two dozen yeast donuts (pun intended) to your dollars the site is other than Appleton. I believe the location is the NW corner of N Humboldt Avenue and E North Avenue in Milwaukee. My friend John D worked the third shift at that location for several years late 50s/early 60s. Often on warm summer nights several other guys and I would congregate there to keep John company and settle all of earths problems. (The station owner actually encouraged us, as he believed our presence discouraged robberies…Clark stations being a favorite target.) Two points of evidence support my thinking about the location: 1) The slope of the driveway. The building sat on the top of a slight hill, as can be seen in the picture. The photographer is on N Humboldt, shooting east. The Olds has entered the station from Humboldt and will exit by turning a bit right and downhill to E North Avenue. 2) The absence of any background light. This would be expected if the camera lens were pointed in an upward trajectory, especially since the Milwaukee River flows at a much lower elevation right behind the station. The location appears to be a parking lot now. And one other thing…Google Earth reveals an earthen line at about 45 degrees to the two streets referenced, right about where the building stood years ago. I’ll take cash or check.

      • Hi Robert, well, I have neither cash nor check, will you take an IOU? You may be right, If I remember, all the stations themselves looked the same, so who knows. The station by my folks, had this pump setup, but later on, as it got busier, they turned the pumps the other way and added a few. I remember the station on Humbolt, and it was one of the few stations open 24 hours, and they were always getting robbed. It wasn’t far from where I met my ex-wife, The Tracks bar on Humbolt and Locust. It doesn’t sound like a big deal today, but 24 hours anything was a rare thing, even had laws against it. George Webb restaurants got around that law, claiming they were only open 23 hours and 59 minutes.

  6. I wonder if the attendant in the first photo cleaned the windshield the way I did in the 60’s working in service stations. First use a bug sponge and then a large, heavy chamois. Speaking of which, the old style original heavy chamois’ are next to impossible to find.

    In the second shot, a couple of bicycles are very close to resting against the glass. The storekeeper is liable to shout at a kid or two.

  7. Of the friends I grew up with about all of them worked at a Clark station at one time or another in Milwaukee, mostly the midnight shift while going to school. I never had the honor. As Pat W pointed out, gas and oil was it at Clark. And Tuesdays it was double Green Stamp day. Emory had his headquarters in a very stately building on W National Avenue at about S 85th Street in West Allis, Wisconsin. It rested at the top of a hill and the lawn always looked like a golf course green. Emory and another Wisconsin independent, Wisco99, gave the oil majors fits with their pricing. Gas wars were common. My buddy Frank K received a beautiful blue 1959 Buick Roadmaster convertible for a graduation gift about a month before school was out, and we could ride around for the better part of a day with three bucks worth of gas in the tank without a care in the world.

    • Hi Robert, it’s fun to hear from another “Beer City” native. Do you remember Martin gas on 63rd and Capitol? Their premium was called “Purple Martin” and it was purple. I think it too was 99 or 100 octane, as well. I remember, you could buy re-refined oil there, 5 quarts for a buck. All the oil burners used it.

      • Speedway originated in Detroit, Speedway ‘79 sponsored the Detroit Tigers on the radio for years. Speedway now is a chain of gas station/convenience stores in the Midwest operated by the Marathon Oil company of Findlay, Ohio, often in direct competition with Marathon branded stations at times setting a street price lower than what Marathon station pay for the gas wholesale. Gasoline sales is a cutthroat business.

  8. 1st photo reminds me too much of that Edward Hopper painting “Gas”
    One-man stations must all be obsolete by now.Too easy prey for stick-up artists.

  9. Worked at the home town Clark station in Waterford WI. for 3 yrs I wasn’t old enough in my freshman year or it would have been 4. The man I worked for was Hal Gasser his motto at the station was “gasser up and be tankful” lots of good memories . All my pals would cruise in with their hotrods and honeys. Gooood memories.

  10. In the second view looking down the sidewalk, I’ll opine the Plymouth franchise was paired with DeSoto, that the Chevrolet dealer was in the adjoining lighter brick building, a Chevy garage service pickup is parked parallel to the sidewalk. There is a set of garage doors under the spotlight.

    Further down in the next block, the Cadillac sign is obvious but another GM make was typically paired with it, Oldsmobile mostly commonly, occasionally Pontiac. Stand-alone Cadillac dealers were rare except in large cities. Farthest down is the IH dealership which would include trucks, tractors and farm implements.

  11. Regarding the third photo, one internet site details the Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Railway:” The Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Railway was funded and owned by Westinghouse, Church, Kerr & Company. It began in 1902 and eventually its main line connected Grand Rapids and Muskegon Heights with a branch to Fruitport. It was sold in 1912 to the United Light and Railways Company and until the “Roarin’ Twentys” made healthy profits.
    However, as automobiles and highways improved earnings declined. The GRGH&M was in bankruptcy by 1926 and abandoned altogether by 1928.”
    Perhaps one of the railroad’s cars wound up in Fruitport, Michigan which is only about 25 miles from where the photo was taken and the automobile in the picture is of the right vintage to correspond with the GRGH&M’s demise.

  12. I remember the Clark station in Michigan City, IND, on Michigan Blvd. 1966, Dad sent me there with an empty gas can and a quarter, and I asked if that was enough… Also in ’66, watched the Red Devil parade, local high school, Elston, won the state championship .

  13. Long before 24hr “convenience stores” I remember the Clark stations were open the latest. Closed at midnight compared to 9 or 10 for the others. Good gas and cheapest price for cigarettes.

  14. Clark stations had a large round Clark sign out by the street with a ring of lights around it. Every 4th light would flash off and on and rapidly “chase” around the circle. There was a motor and a relay box in the sign that would do the work of flashing the lights. Like a card in your bicycle wheel but rather loud. If you Google “Clark gas station” and click on “images”, there is a photo dated 1971 of a sign in mid chase that gives you a good idea of what it looked like.

    • Your remarks prompted me to look for what you suggested, but what I discovered was a bit more of interest to me. The Greyhound Bus folks built a new depot at 633 W Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee in 1966, and it became known as—surprise, surprise—the Greyhound Building. In 1967 Emory Clark purchased the building and to our even greater surprise renamed it the Clark Building. One local historical website alludes to it being, astonishingly, the Clark Oil headquarters. The only thing of interest I recall about the building is the huge, rotating Miller Lite sign on the roof…25 floors from the street. Concern developed whether the signage could withstand some of the winds Milwaukee was known for, so in the event of a localized noreaster the rotation was stopped with one of the edges pointed into the wind. Several years later Budweiser had the chutzpah to buy rights to the space …and in the biggest surprise of all put an in-your-face Budweiser sign up to remind Miler (brewed in Milwaukee) Bud was number one. I learned just last night that the name Miller will soon be swept into the dustbin of history. The company, Miller Coors, will henceforth be known as Molson Coors, and all vestiges of “Miller” will be removed from the buildings in Miller Valley. The timeless Miller logo was courtesy of Brooks Stevens.) The company has already relinquished its naming rights—Miller Field— to the Brewer ball park in Milwaukee. Thanks for your little nudge, Brian.

      • Hi Robert. I’ve understood everything you’ve written here to be true except I don’t think the Miller name will be removed from the buildings in Miller Valley. I believe it’s just being removed from the name of the joint venture Molsen created with Miller and Coors. It is a sad time when whatever your city, state, province, etc. was known for fades. Like Miller Brewing, Blatz, Schlitz and Pabst were all national leaders at one time but eventually bought by out-of-town companies that only wanted to bleed them dry. Advertising disappeared and eventually the breweries too. You might say the same for certain automobile brands lost in the last 15 years. Miller Park being renamed to something for American Family Insurance (based in Madison, WI) is a disappointment too for most around Milwaukee. I dread the day something happens to Harley-Davidson but won’t be surprised.

  15. The inter urban car appears to be one that was located on Austin Ave/US-12 on the West edge of Albion, Mich. about one block East of the Michigan United Traction Railways main repair shop on Car Barns Rd also called Taylorville, where it would be a short move once the line went out of business, ironically by the improvement of US-12 which paralled the right of way of the MUTRWY, still visible in places along what is now called Michigan Ave. The inter urban system shut down before WW2. The car remained there well into the 1950s.

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