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Service Stations

February 2, 1996 | AARON CURTISS / Times Staff Writer
These days, as the interstates cut concrete swaths across the desert and back-lit corporate logos zip by like giant lollipops at 75 mph, it's easy to miss the past, lingering and decaying just off the offramps. The funky old gas stations that once promised cheap fuel, clean toilets, free road maps and, most of all, safe harbor, long ago were replaced by the stark, polished steel islands of the big petroleum companies where folksiness takes a back seat to efficiency. Now considered little more than automotive necessities, gas stations grew up with the American automobile industry and the country's obsession with driving, evolving from entrepreneurial showcases of schlock and service to mechanized convenience stations just as likely to offer slushies and shaving cream as gas. "New gas stations are a little harder to come to terms with," said John Margolies, New York author of "Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station."
February 22, 2013 | By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times
A bank's branch office in Alhambra is helping Fame Rybicki become famous. The 91-year-old former school administrator and community activist was startled to discover that a photograph taken of her in August 1926 had been incorporated into a large mural that decorates a newly opened Wells Fargo office on the city's Main Street. The mural is a montage of historic photos that salute 112-year-old Alhambra's early days. A 5-year-old Rybicki is shown standing with family members and uniformed attendants in front of several cars gassing up at her father's service station.
July 15, 2006 | Elizabeth Douglass, Times Staff Writer
Chevron Corp. said Friday that it would buy most of the gasoline stations owned by USA Petroleum Corp., the California independent retailer believed to have invented self-service fueling in the 1940s. Privately owned USA Petroleum, based in Thousand Oaks, plans to sell 122 of its 160 stations -- amounting to nearly all of its California network, USA Petroleum President Mark Conant said. All but a handful of the affected stations sell fuel under the USA name.
November 24, 2012 | By Peter Slavin
The artist who painted the mural that greets drivers entering the little town of Welch in West Virginia's coal fields added the figure of Ed Shepard at the last minute. Ed, as everyone calls him, is a fixture in town. He has manned his service station for 62 years. Plain-spoken, self-educated, and blessed with a remarkable memory, at 89 Ed is a seemingly endless source of knowledge about Welch and surrounding McDowell County. McDowell County used to dig more coal than anywhere else in the country.
October 7, 1985
It is appalling that our "service stations" should charge as much as 20 cents a gallon to pump gasoline into a car. This places an unfair burden on the handicapped and elderly who are unable to manage those infernal hoses. With unemployment high among the disadvantaged, it seems that putting the service back into the "service stations" would help many people. WILMA SPEARS STELLA Whittier
October 24, 1994
An unidentified gunman held up a clerk at an Arco gas station Saturday night and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash, authorities said. The clerk, Riad (Mike) Kabbara, 22, told police the robber walked into the market of the gas station at 17502 Golden West St. in Huntington Beach at 10:35 p.m. and showed him a revolver before demanding money. Kabbara complied with the demand and the robber fled east on Golden West Street on foot, Sgt. Brian Tidrick said.
July 12, 1990
Tighter controls over the city's service stations would be imposed under a series of zoning code amendments approved Tuesday by the Board of Directors. The new codes, which must be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, establish two categories of service stations: minimum stations with no auto-repair bays and full-service stations with one or more auto-repair bays. Under the new codes, minimum service stations in certain commercial districts must have at least eight fuel pumps.
May 2, 1990
An ordinance requiring new service stations in unincorporated territory in Los Angeles County to provide restrooms for their customers was adopted Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors. The measure, introduced by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, was approved on a 3-1 vote with Supervisor Deane Dana dissenting. A state law that went into effect Jan. 1 requires new gas stations along major highways to provide restrooms to the public during business hours.
August 2, 2012 | By Ronald D. White
Retail gasoline prices have risen for a third straight week, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. But motorists might find some solace in the fact that it could be worse. They could be living in New York City or Chicago or Detroit, to name a few other big cities. “Oil prices are still in the $85-$90 a barrel range and providing some upward pressure to gas prices,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “However, other states have seen much larger price increases over the past month.
June 19, 2012 | By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times
The $930-million light rail Expo Line will finally reach into Culver City on Wednesday, marking the first time rail service will serve the traffic-choked Westside since the last days of the Red Car trolleys in the mid-1900s. Transportation officials will open the Culver City station - near Washington and National boulevards - beginning about noon after a celebration with elected leaders. Officials opened most of the first phase of the line in late April, allowing commuters to travel 7.9 miles between downtown Los Angeles and the eastern edge of Culver City in about half an hour.
April 19, 2012 | By Ronald D. White, Times Staff Writer
The fifth straight week of gas price declines in Southern California has finally brought motorists back in range of what they were paying at the pump last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, for example, fell another four cents since last week to $4.228, the Automobile Club said. That was 15.7 cents a gallon lower than last month's price and just a penny a gallon higher than what motorists were paying last year.
December 17, 2011 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
A federal inquiry has concluded that the U.S. Forest Service failed to use all the aircraft that might have been available during the critical early hours of the 2009 Station fire, but the findings left unanswered key questions of why the planes and helicopters were not deployed. The report Friday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also said the Forest Service should clarify its policies on using aircraft and ground crews from local and state agencies.
April 29, 2011 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
Foothill residents and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) criticized the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday for moving too slowly to commission a new fleet of night-flying aircraft to fight fires like the devastating Station blaze. At a packed meeting in the Altadena Library, residents who lost their homes in the 2009 conflagration also pleaded with federal investigators to determine how and why the Forest Service let the fire become the biggest in Los Angeles County history. A U.S. Government Accountability Office representative said it had assigned two full-time investigators to its Station fire inquiry, which began several months ago and is expected to continue until the end of the year.
March 31, 2011 | By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times
Bernard B. Roth, founder of South Gate-based World Oil Corp. and an early promoter of self-service gas stations at a time when pumping your own gas was considered novel and possibly dangerous, has died. He was 95. He died Sunday night at his Beverly Hills home from complications of old age, his sons Steve and Bob said. Like many of Southern California's older entrepreneurs, Roth came to California from elsewhere. Born June 27, 1915, in St. Louis, Roth was 15 when he moved with his family to California and only 22 when he bought his first gas station at Florence and Normandie avenues in South Los Angeles.
September 24, 2010 | By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Forest Service said Thursday that dispatch recordings illustrate that the agency aggressively attacked last year's Station fire with the nearest available planes, but the conversations also show that officials did not place a commander's orders for air tankers on the critical second morning of the blaze. In the telephone exchanges, dispatchers and firefighters become alarmed at the overnight spread of the flames in the Angeles National Forest and note that the commander has asked that the tankers and other aircraft arrive by 7 a.m. Shortly after midnight, however, dispatchers say that the Forest Service will divert tankers from a nearby fire in the morning, instead of ordering them through a regional operations center.
June 28, 2010 | Ronald D. White
Jesse Torres, an avid sport fisherman, says he's boycotting BP products out of anger over the company's handling of its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But the other day, he could be found filling up his GMC Yukon with BP gas at an Arco station in Santa Monica. "Oh, I see it now," Torres said, squinting at the BP's small green-and-yellow sunburst logo on the Arco sign. "It's horrible what is happening down there. Next time, I'll go somewhere else for my gasoline, and I'm going to start reading the signs more carefully."
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