There’s two kinds of signs on the office wall of M. L. Morrison-Sons Service Station that say a lot about the 69 years it was open. Both signs say Morrison’s Citgo— Est. 1951. But one’s a fancy cut-out metal sign and one was painted on a piece of wood. There may be another one inside somewhere that was chiseled out of rock.
It was in business five years before I was “established” on December 19,1956. Morrison's was the service station by the hospital “going south out of town.”
I remember four other service stations on Main Street. Forgive me if I get these wrong.
I believe Marvin Chittom had one where city hall is now located. John Miller had a Texaco station on the corner just across the street from Chittom’s.
I’m thinking that Clem Henry and later Terry Otts had a service station where Jeffus Family Dental is now located.
Lamar Roberts, Sr., had the service station on the east side of South Main, near Baldwin Funeral Home.
Claude Jones, who remembers much better than me, said that Sam Wages had that station before Mr. Lamar did.
Claude reminded me that Carpenter and Son was a full-service service station and car dealership at the Main/Reynolds Street intersection.
Claude also remembers three other service stations. He said “Sarge” Griffin had one where the PEPA museum now stands. Former Pontotoc Police Chief/Sheriff Jim Hubbard had a Shell station where Dr. Black’s dentist’s office now stands. And he said that Ellis Reeder’s dad, Lynn Reeder, had a service station at the corner of North Main and Oxford, across from the Community House.
I remember Mr. Marvin Morrison at Morrison’s Service Station and of course his two sons, James Ray and Lamar. They are retiring and at 6 p.m. last Friday Morrison’s closed for good.
One thing I clearly remember is how good of folks Mr. Marvin, James Ray and Lamar have been to thousands of customers for almost seven decades.
They pumped a lot of gas, greased a lot of cars, washed a lot cars and trucks, changed oil and antifreeze. They jump started a lot of dead batteries and replaced them. They fixed a lot of flat tires.
And lots and lots of folks stopped by and used their air compressor and they didn’t charge.
They gave a lot directions to folks who were lost, listened to a lot of news and gossip and washed a lot of windshields.
When I worked at Peoples’ Bank, which is now Renasant, Mr. Marvin came in the bank at 5 p.m. every Friday afternoon. We didn’t close until 5:30 on Friday, but when Mr. Marvin hit the door someone shouted “quitting time.”
In so many ways Mr. Marvin was so much more reliable and delightful than computers. He always made you feel better. He was solid and believed in what was good and right. He passed those qualities on to his sons and daughters (Joyce and Patsy).
He worked hard and taught them the value of an honest days’ work. He helped those that needed a helping hand.
Joyce told me recently that years ago a car with three Ole Miss students stopped at the station for gas and one of the girls fell in love with Mr. Marvin’s Levi blue jean jacket.
The jacket was old and tenderized with some grease and oil, but it was still solid. The young woman offered Mr. Marvin $75 for the Levi jacket. He couldn’t quite understand her infatuation with the garment, but he obliged and sold his coat.
There were plenty more hanging on the wall inside the service station and several of them were still hanging there last Friday, waiting on a cold, rainy day and an old friend.
For me there’s lots of treasures inside the old service station.
There’s a push button telephone, an ash tray full of cigarette butts and a green map dispenser. You won’t find those three items just anywhere today.
There’s a red Coca-Cola drink box that still works and a calendar full of pretty girls in bikinis.
There’s a match box size #3 Dale Earnhardt stock car and collector’s card, an Anco wiper blade and arms dispenser, and a shelf full of old soda pop bottles. Some of them say “money back bottle.” Explain that to your kids and grandkids.
There’s three Tom’s Peanuts and peanut butter sandwich jars.
There’s a poster congratulating Morrison’s Citgo on their 50th anniversary. That was back on August 4, 2001.
But it’s not the things, it’s the memories of the things and the customers, who were mostly all friends.
James Ray Morrison said it best last Friday. “The people here are different, in a good way. That’s the best I can say it. They’re family. That’s what’s made this town what it is and this station what it is.”
For those of us who were blessed to know all these “service station” folks I’ve mentioned it will always be a special time and place.
You might Google the information but not the feelings.