Kendallville Man Pumps Gas From the Past

By Eric Olson

September 24, 2010 Updated Sep 24, 2010 at 5:37 PM EDT

KENDALLVILLE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Catchy jingles and 26-cent gasoline once made the corner gas station a local staple. Those days disappeared with the service attendants who washed your windshield. In some corners of You Country, though, the local gas station is still held in high regard.

Take, for instance, Butch Lash’s recreation of a 1950’s era service station he’s built next to his Kendallville auto body shop. Butch grew up working in his dad’s gas station. Once he started his own business he decided to start collecting old gas station equipment and memorabilia.

“The first piece is the gas pump back here in the corner,” he says on a recent visit to the station. “That is a pump like my dad had, it’s a Wayne 80”.

Butch has traveled the country poking in abandoned gas stations, finding treasures and hauling them back home…usually to be refinished in his body shop before going on display. One item that shines like new is an old oil dispenser, circa 1910.

“And it’s when you used to pump it up and fill a glass bottle and that’s how you’d sell it to your customer,” he says.

Butch has lots of Coca Cola memorabilia too but it’s then automotive stuff he loves, things he used to handle when working for his dad all those years ago.

“Shell made a lot of products,” he says, “they had all kinds of cleaners, waxes, filters, tune up kits. You name it Shell sold it.”

And if Shell sold it you’ll likely find it here. Occasionally folks pull to the antique gas pumps out front and try to fill their tanks. “I always tell them if they can get any gas out of the pump help yourself” he laughs. Asked when he’ll be finished collecting he says “I’ll never be finished. This is not something that you quit. Every week’s another venture, and another piece. The hunt, that’s the fun of doing it, just hunting for it.

Eric Olson reporting, out in ‘Your Country’.

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