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Texaco Super Service Station

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Writen By: Kelli Phelps

Many have known the building at 210 E. 12th Street, in Sioux Falls, as the former Sid’s Crown Liquor addition. In 2011, three years before the downtown liquor store closed, a $50,000 grant was awarded to restore the exterior of the building to the original late 1920’s style of the previousTexaco Super Service Station.

In 1958, Arthur Hansen and his wife, Ruth, were licensed operators of what was then the Hertz-Drive-UR-Self-System. They operated, and rented vehicles out of the old terminal building at the Sioux Falls Airport. Needing a service station to maintain and clean their Hertz vehicles, they leased and operated the Texaco Super Service Station under Clarion Peterson.

At the time, the service stations in Sioux Falls only had one or two bays in which they could service vehicles. Any vehicle work performed typically did not include washing the vehicle’s windows, checking fluids or filling the tires with air. If there was a restroom on the premises, it was only for employees.

The Texaco Super Service Station housed five bays with manual overhead doors. The first bay, directly next to a door that led to the shop, was used for general repairs and changing tires. In the second bay was a hydraulic hoist that the vehicle would be driven on and then lifted into the air. The hoist was not a new concept to the auto service industry, but in the 1950s many stations were still using the jack-style hoists. The third bay contained a pit underneath it, allowing the mechanics to work under the vehicles if the hoist in bay two was occupied. Bays four and five were typically used for washing the Hertz or customer vehicles. Any vehicles that required multiple days’ work were also kept overnight in these bays.

Being a full service station, the equipment and services available included a large water tank used to check tires for leaks, room to store racks of new and used tires, AND a machine that was able to “hot” patch leaky tires. There were also many tool chests on site that housed several gauges and tools needed to assess a vehicles spark or RPMs. A large air compressor tank was located in the basement of the building and was used to operate the hoist and fill tires.

At the Texaco Super Service Station, the level of customer service was unlike that at a general service station. Not only could you have your vehicle serviced, but it could also be filled with fuel. It was standard practice for the mechanic to check the oil, antifreeze and battery cell level before the vehicle left the station. Also, upon request, they would fill the windshield wiper fluid, clean the windows, and fill the tires with air.

Arthur and Ruth, who ran the station until the late 1960s, kept an old green Jeep on site that was used for many purposes. If a vehicle needed a jump, or if a vehicle arrived on site and was not running, they would use the Jeep to push the vehicle into a bay for service. Ruth’s cousin,

Gordon, would help out at the station on Sundays after church. Gordon was a heavy equipment operator with the Sioux Falls Street Department (1953 -1974) and would bring his son, Griff, with him on Sundays. It was here that Griff would learn the art of general vehicle maintenance and has since passed this on to his son and son-in-law.

Griff distinctively remembers helping with various housekeeping tasks around the shop as a young teenager. The water tank used in assessing tire leaks needed to be emptied every so often due to a sour smell from the use and time spent sitting in the tank. On one particular

Sunday, they were working on a bread truck on the hoist, two feet in the air, when the one-inch bolts broke. The van rolled backwards off the hoist, and luckily the garage door was open and another vehicle was not parked directly behind it in the lot. At Christmastime, the red toy Texaco

Fire Engine Trucks would decorate the customer service desk and would be the envy of any child who entered.

Just as Sid’s Crown Liquor left its mark on downtown Sioux Falls, the Texaco Super ServiceStation had left its mark years before. It is where families maintained the vehicles they had worked hard for, and where fathers brought their sons to teach them basic vehicle maintenance skills and a ‘fix it’ work ethic that would be passed down for generations.

 

Griff Anderson was born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. He graduated from Washington High School in 1965. He worked for the Federal Government in the Department of Treasury for 39 1/2 years. Having retired in 2010, he continues to maintain and work on his own vehicles. Griff and his wife Cindy have two daughters, one son, and nine grandchildren, and reside in Sioux Falls. 

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