Witherspoon’s will be missed

Sometimes my memory fails me. But in this case, I can remember everything in almost perfect detail.
I was sitting in the front seat of my grandfather’s brand new 1956 Olds Delta 88. It was a beautiful car. He had just purchased it and I was going for a ride with him.
The car was coral on the bottom and cream on top. And there was chrome everywhere. The car had that new car smell to it. It was that new.
On this particular night, our ride took us to the newly-opened Witherspoon’s Mileage & DS station. We obviously were going to fill up.
But I remember some details of the night. The lights above the pumps were bright and today I believe they were probably fluorescent. Between the two pumps—regular and premium—stood a large glass cabinet that sparkled in the evening light.
And it was filled with glasses that glistened as the light shone down through them.
We purchased our gas, and I remember my grandfather and Jim Witherspoon talking about his opening. And that night, I took home a small juice glass.
It seemed a really special ride.
I don’t have many great memories of my grandfather, but there was something that happened that night that caused me to remember it.
That stop began a long friendship between the Fort Frances Times and Witherspoon’s. Our newspaper business, and the Cumming family, bought a lot of gas from Jim and then his son, Glenn.
The gas service building was much smaller than the one that will be torn down. At one point, it had two service bays and Jim was never too tired to help someone in distress.
The building and business seemed to grow by need and continued to meet the changing times.
Tackle, rods, reels, and maps were added. Hunting and fishing licences have been sold since the service station first opened, and several generations of U.S. tourists have stopped there annually on their trek north.
Later, the bays disappeared, and milk, bread, pop, party snacks, and sandwiches filled those holes.
Last Thursday, after work, I pulled in to buy some gas for the last time. It wouldn’t have mattered what the octane level was, I was going to be one of the last customers.
Unfortunately, the pumps were all dry—and much of the interior of the building was already sold.
I got to know Glenn a little and his children. I knew Jim. Stopping for gas at Witherspoon’s service station was not so much as stopping for a quick fill, as it was stopping for a social chat.
Glenn always had the gift of conversation as did his father, and seldom were he or his staff ever down. And when you stopped, you would leave feeling good.
I’ll miss pulling in to Witherspoon’s, as will many other friends from across the district.

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