Auto-Biography/QOTD: I Worked at a Gas Station Like This Solo at Age 15 – What Was Your First Job?

vintage snapshot from Dave Gelinas’ collection

I was fifteen in the fall of 1968 and heard that the older brother of my friend was quitting his Saturday job at the Sunoco station on York Road in Towson because he was drafted. I walked there to talk to the owner, who also had a small fleet of taxis (Adams Cab) that he parked and serviced there. I told him I wanted the job. He looked me over and said, “OK, be here on Saturday morning at seven”. I’m quite certain he never asked how old I was (I was tall for my age).

My job was to open the station on Saturday mornings, and I was the only employee there all day. The owner dropped by on some Saturdays for a couple of minutes the first few weeks. I pumped gas, checked oil, air and water. I was responsible for the till and closing up at night; in other words, I was managing this station by myself on Saturdays. In between customers, I sat in the office listening to “Crimson and Clover” (over and over) on the radio, because it was only an AM unit and couldn’t get the new underground FM station I preferred. Kids would come by on their bikes to get air. And the two brothers who worked there during the week would drop by with their ’57 Chevy 2-door sedan hot rod, to tweak the engine a bit.

This was not a popular station, and I’d get maybe 15-25 customers all day.

Because it was a Sunoco station that sold the super-high octane 260 gas, a disproportionate number of customers drove high performance cars. I got a close-up and personal look at quite a few hemis and high-performance Corvettes, whose engines were typically crackling-hot as I checked the oil. One fuel-injected Corvette driver tipped me a five dollar bill after I carefully attended to his steed. That was as much as I made in several hours of wages.

Although I was fifteen, I would actually get up extra early to be there a half hour early. Why? I would take out one of the Dodge Coronet taxis sitting in back for a little exercise run around Towson so as to keep up my illicit driving skills. There were several tired ’65s with the slant six, but there was a ’67 with the new LA 318 V8. That became my early morning steed of choice, and I became convinced that the new LA 318 was noticeably peppier than the old “poly” 318 in our ’65 Coronet wagon. I had plenty of opportunity on those early saturday mornings before opening the station to reinforce that impression.

So what was your first job?