Melvin (Mel) Cook grew up in Sabin on NE 11th Avenue, between Beech and Failing. One summer in the early 1940's, he was walking home from Irving Park and decided to stop at Clifton's Service Station at 7th and Fremont, where the Rerun Consignment Shop is now, to see if they needed help. To his surprise, they hired him on the spot as a “gas pump jockey.” Mel remembers “with pride” that Clifton's was a full-service station, which meant that he “not only pumped the gas, but also cleaned the windshield, checked the oil, checked the water level in the radiator, checked the fluid level in the battery, and made sure the tires had the proper amount of air pressure.”
This was during WWII and gas rationing was in effect, so each car had a sticker on the windshield indicating the allotment. Mel explains that the big oil companies
“had the resources to purchase the more modern, automated pumps” but Clifton's was an independent station, so they used the older type. As the gas pump jockey, Mel would work the handle. “The pump would draw gasoline from an underground storage tank, beneath the station pavement, and pump it into the glass tank on top of the gas pump. When the gas level reached the mark for the requested number of gallons, I would stop pumping. The gasoline was then free to flow through the attached hose and nozzle into the customer's tank, by gravity.”
of youth are still with us, no matter what our age may be.”
This story is condensed from a longer version written by Mel Cook, and captured on Steve Schreiber's volgagermans.net website.