It was unusual to see a service station with an attractive flower garden in front. Those flowers were an
indication someone really cared about their business.
Behind the flowers was the service station with two bays where vehicles were being repaired and a small canopy covering the gas pumps. A place like that kind of draws you in.
When I went in to prepay for gas at the pump, the man behind the counter smiled and said “Just put in what you need and come in and pay.”
When I paid I asked how long the station had been in operation. “This year is number 50 for me. My dad operated it 36 years before that,” he said.
His name is James Weaver, but folks call him Jim. The station that has been in his family for 86 years is titled Jim’s Amoco & Food Shop. It is located on Highway 60 in Brewster, Minnesota, population 473.
Jim took a few minutes away from his busy day to visit and give a brief history of his business. Sue was interested in the moon flowers in his garden, which he pointed out were about to bloom when he gave her a tour. There also were giant Mexican marigolds and colorful petunias. An ornamental, stone-crafted fountain stood in the center of the flower garden.
Jim’s father, Henry, opened the business in 1933 during the Great Depression. Jim recalled his father worked on Model A Fords in those early years. The highway those Fords rolled on was a constitutional road, then. Minnesota Highway 60 was formed a year later by linking three constitutional roads. It was two lanes. Now four lanes front the business.
Henry opened his business as a Skelly Oil Company station. In 1933 Skelly was supplying Amarax gas. The company touted the fuel was high octane and would reduce engine knock. Gas was selling for less than 20 cents a gallon that year.
The business survived the Depression and changed with the times. Jim recalled the Weavers have had a number of suppliers. He listed Skelly, Getty, Standard, Amoco and BP. Recently he has become independent, buying gas for his station on the open market. After 86 years, it is a well-established business.
Jim said he couldn’t place a date on the time his station moved away from being full service to self-service. But at some point, car windows were no longer washed, no one checked under the hood and tire pressure wasn’t measured. He observed those services were discontinued many years ago.
He added food items to the business in 1992 and it was obvious that has been a successful addition. While we were visiting, people were coming in to buy supplies on that Monday morning. Jim seemed to know everyone,
that happens when you operate a business for decades. Especially when you treat people right.
There have been a lot of changes since the Weavers opened their business in 1933. Today’s automobiles have little in common with that Model A Ford Henry worked on. It was a major star in America’s early love affair with the automobile. But one thing has remained the same for nearly a century, a Weaver continues to take care of business on Highway 60 in Brewster, Minnesota.
Donald Richter’s column appears every other week in the Commercial-News. He is a member of the Vermilion County Museum Board.