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  Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 23, 2015, Page 9

By Mike Avitt

The West End Service Station was located at 401 W. Madison and was owned by Day Shafer when this picture was taken. Mr. Shafer bought the station from the partnership of Stroup and Batman on February 16, 1927 and opened his new business March 1, 1927. He would remain here until moving to Highway 2 in July 1945. Day Shafer's son-in-law, John Denhart, would join the business before the move. Thanks to John's daughter, Sybil Kelley, for contributing this week's photo: it is greatly appreciated.

I believe the readers can easily see the "Willard" sign. Willard produced car batteries which were called storage batteries back then. The three gas pumps have different numbers on them and I believe it is the price per gallon. Red Crown gasoline, which was a product of the Standard Oil Company, came in three grades: Red Crown, White Crown, and Gold Crown.

The numbers on the pumps from left to right read: 15, 12, and 13.

I believe our photograph was taken later than 1927 because of the two outbuildings. The one next to the station has a chimney which tells me this building was occupied during the winter, perhaps for tire repairs. Tire repairs were common as road conditions and the quality of tires were mediocre at best.

The building fathest right says, "ICE CREAM." It was not uncommon in the 1930s for filling stations to serve ice cream. There's no doubt that candy and tobacco were also sold at the station.

The first advertisment I found for this station was in the March 31, 1927 Mount Ayr Record-News and said (Howard) "Peb" Stone would wash your car. The ad also stated that Country Club and soda pop were on ice. Howard Albert "Peb" Stone and his brother Walt were employees for many years.

I've spent many hours trying to find the construction date of West End Service Station, which appears to be made of stucco, but I didn't find it. So I'll tell you about some filling stations prior to 1927.

Mary Ann Lesan's book on early Ringgold County history says the first filling station permit in Mount Ayr was issued February 19, 1920. And that fits what I found. I. J. Dalbey began buying lots on the south side of the square in 1915. He bought one lot each from Martha Timby and D. F. Sellards. By December 1919, the newspaper says Dalbey intends to build a filling station on the south side of the square. The Community Service Station opened sometime during the summer of 1920 on the site currently occupied by the restored Skelly Station. Willis Edmondson was the manager until September 1922 when Clair Rhoades took over (Clair held several vocational positions before becoming a full-time undertaker). This was the first Mount Ayr filling station I know about and the station at Jefferson and Taylor, known as Brand's Standard, was the second, opening November 24, 1920.

Maybe the third opened at 201 N. Taylor, where TEK Builders is today. An ad in the September 9, 1925 Record-Newssays Thompson Bros. has opened a service station one block north of the northeast corner of the square. In February 1927, A. L. Spencer would take posession of this station and add a produce house. I don't know if Spencer built the produce house but it was still there in the 1970s, next to the alley.

That same newspaper announced the September 12, 1925 opening of Collins Oil Co. which was Hannon's Sinclair in the 1960s. However, "The Station that Service Built" had its opening delayed one week due to equipment not arriving on time. O. G. Spencer was the manager of this station and the owner of the property. About September 1, 1926, Sinclair bought the property and J. Ansel Williams became the manager.

I've got to let you know about a couple of stations after 1927. Rogers' Oil Co. opened Gasoline Alley May 28, 1932 about three and a half blocks east of the southeast corner of the square. Remember, this was State Highway 3 at the time. Also, Art Moore opened his Standard Station at the same time on the corner of State Highway 169 and Columbus Street.

And then there is this one. Day Shafer bought a filling station the first week of December 1933 from Mary Lou Campbell. It was located on the block where Heritage Park Apartments is today. Day changed the name to East End Service Station and ran both stations. I don't know how he disposed of it but I believe Ed Mercer worked here before becoming associated on Highway 3 (now Highway 2) in 1939.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 01, 2015, Page 4

By Mike Avitt

I recognized this photo immediately when I saw it. This fantastic picture is looking west along State Highway No. 3 (Madison Street to you and me) showing Day Shafer's filling station on the left.

You may remember I ran a picture of this station not long ago but didn't know when the photo was taken. This is a later photo because we now see an electric gas pump between the two gravity-flow pumps. Also, I can now see the ice cream stand says "Pines Ice Cream" on the side. Helen Reynolds called to tell me that [the] ice cream stand is currently located in her backyard, although it has undergone some modification.

When Day Shafer moved his business out on the re-routed Highways of 2 and 169, he bought the Skelly service station at 100 East South Street from Sada Dowling. Harry Dunlany leased this station in early October 19490, and O. B. Mack leased the same station in late October 1941. Mr. Mack was still the lessee in 1944 when Day bought it. Day didn't take possession until August 1, 1945 and, as I have said before, I believe the reason for this was to let the Skelly contract expire so Mr. Shafer could sell Standard Oil products.

The subject of this week's photo is the sign in front of the West End Service Station and is one of five photos showing the information and advertising signs, which seems to be newly constructed. Since the picture came from the Orr Fisher collection, I assume he built the sign so I'll tell you about two photos I didn't run that help date the picture.

One shows the sign supported by wooden posts and has an advertisement for Cook's Rexall. Harry Cook sold the Rexall Drug Store to Barney Horne April 15, 1938. So we know the sign was erected prior to that date. Another photo shows the back of the sign with brick legs and boasts of Mount Ayr's 300,000,000 gallon capacity reservoir (1939) along with other Mount Ayr information, including an advertisement for sign painting (Phone 96).

So I put the date on this week's picture at 1939. Advertising on this sign included ads from Hawkeye Lumber Co., Irving's Clothing Store, Perry Dress Club, Mahan Granite Co., Prentis Hatchery, and Mowry Real Estate.

For many years, Frank Mowry was located in the front upstairs room at 115 N. Taylor (The Early Bird restaurant). He sold the building to C. D. and Edna Lamb in March 1946 but remained in the same office for some time after that. The Perry Dress Club was located at 105 W. Monroe, where Dick's Barber Shop is, and was an early dry cleaning business going back to about 1924 but not always at that location.

A piece of paper with the photos showed a sketched outline of the advertising sign with different prices for the different sized advertising blocks. I think the cheapest was $2 a year and the most expensive was $5 a year. But, of course, Highway No. 3 was re-routed to the south side of town in 1939 so the monetary value of this sign may have fallen after that. The aesthetic value of this historic photograph, however, never decreases. Look at the house at Lawhead's Corner. Have you ever seen it before? I had not.

Okay, next time we'll see another great picture from the Orr Fisher collection. In the meantime, I've almost finished putting together the Mount Ayr Historic Calendar for 2016.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

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