Life moves fast and you gotta keep gassed, filled up.
But despite the hurry scurry, the double time to hut hut stay on pace, out of no where happens. Like you’re driving scenic Maine US One, our version of Rt 66 to get your kicks. The rock bound craggy coast and salt sea air left shrinking way way behind in the big rear view chrome mirrors. As you venture north into the heart of interior Maine.
And out of the corner of your eye, coming in to full ten and two hand position vision ahead you arrive at a yesteryear garage mirage. Stuck in time, rusting relics, static, waiting for the gas filling station pump attendant. The oil topping, tire changing, battery boosting grease monkey. The missing driver, passengers in the car under the canopy at a Topsfield Maine way way out in the country gas station. All gone. That must of been collected. Rounded up, sucked up, lifted slowly skyward. Bathed in a pool of hot bright blue UFO light vacuum and whisked away.
Topsfield Maine, population 237. Not far from Danforth Maine. Population 589 and many of those households are lakeside, empty much of the year. When snowbirds fly away to lands where winter snow shovels are not operated, needed, sold.
Business at the Twilight Zone Gas Station as I call it is not brisk.
In fact, the same collection of rusting relics continue to wait for parts to come in. Repairs to be performed as weather happens. Seasons change. People come and go, buzz by on the highway the gas station is parked smack dab within the right of way. Of this four rod wide once vibrant artery.
Waiting lines, a small mom and pop Maine business pulsating, percolating with a steady string of cars, trucks. Mostly locals, a handful of straggling tourists. The occasional horse or Maine farm tractor. A laughing collection of local kids. On bikes, trading in empty soda bottles for candy. The highway establishment a whisker too handy to the shoulder of the now not so well traveled Maine roadway.
The stop for a pop spot. To poke change, for Clyde to fish, then drop a dime down the slot. To place an important long distance pay phone call. To stretch, remove leg, shoulder knot joint fatigue. For Bonnie to freshen up, splash some water on her face, adjust her lipstick. The entire dog and pony started with a bark of fill ‘er up. For gallons of gas, quart of oil, new wiper blades paid for with unfolded green cash. Not a magnetic strip plastic card. Where you settle up in thirty days. Or carry the bill with interest and increasing debt.
To witness, watch the whip out and wipe off the dipstick maneuver.
For the gas station jockey to squint, decipher, measure oil levels in the crankcase of big V-8s. Heavy, framed cars with skirts, sleek curved swooping lines, straight pipes, real steel bodies. And power plants that lacked smog emission control devices. Sedans, coupes, two tone colored station wagons, pick ups, farm machinery with a motor. Or tires needing air.
Some panel delivery trucks with real “woody” grain side panels. But no power windows, missing air conditioning, sans leather seats. Just limited AM radio stations to sing along to the words, to just hum if you don’t know the song. But each vehicle equipped with triangular front side windows. That cranked, rolled out to redirect wind. The velocity, gust controlled by the lead level in your foot. Inviting a breeze to pass into and through out the car’s interior as the accelerator is squeezed, pressed to the metal. The man made wind, drifting in and out with distant radio frequency broadcasts that are turned up louder the hotter it gets. The faster you drive.
The lone white painted cedar shingled building, a refreshment center of fluids for man and modern tin lizzie combined.
Set ready freddy as a filling station ding ding rural outpost. Providing road maps, verbal directions for the lost. Those new to the local turf. Not from these parts. Being of service to all who swerved, rolled in, then out. Labeled with hanging and nailed porcelain coated gas company logos. From flying A’s to soaring winged horses. Staged, ready for Maine seven decades ago for a real deal backdrop movie set for the right script. If it’s time for a vacation life experience, if you’re on empty, your story begins in Maine. Don’t keep her waiting. Fill ‘er up. Pull out the map, log some memory miles.