Maurice Schmidt

Gulf Station - Maurice  Schmidt

Gulf Station, 1970

Painting oil on linen  
48 x 60 in

"A scene no longer with us in these days of self-serve, the Gulf station was the first to disappear. I tried to catch something of what it felt like being in the car and people rushing out to you, leaning over, hopping all around your car, opening the hood, putting gas in the tank, air in the tires, and smiling at you through the windshield as they wiped it, their hands making waving gestures as the chamois clothes wiped the glass clean. Where else could you get that much service, that many servants coming to you at one time in a few minutes? It didn't matter what kind of car you drove, an old used one, a jalopy, a high end, literally Cadillac, Buick or Lincoln. I never thought it would all disappear someday. Looking back on it now, I see it as kind of a metaphor of America. It gave equal service for all; every carriage carried a king or queen. In time, many of these so-called "filling station boys" would equal or excel the drivers and if not that, provided for their families. They, too, were car owners and drivers, who themselves pulled into filling stations and were served like kings and the ladies like queens. All across the country, it was this way; the innate, unspoken democracy that sparked between a car driver and the filling station. Is it another "only in America" story? I never thought about it this way until now, after it has disappeared. I don't think a self-service station comes near it. It's all self and no serve. Getting gas doesn't cost more now. It has become a lot lonelier too." excerpt from the book "Maurice Schmidt, A Life in Art"



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