|Alger Jordan Gochenour|
My father was a teenager when the station was built. Dad learned on the job. When my grandfather's health precluded him from working Dad took over the business, supporting his parents and unmarried sister Alice as well as his own family.
I grew up behind The Station in a large 1830s farmhouse, seen on the right in the photo below. Sometimes I would go into the garage to buy a cold pop from the vending machine. There were tools and supplies all over, cement floors and cinder block walls. I remember the hydraulic lift that raised the car into the air while my dad worked from below.
Dad's hand always had grime deep into the lines and under the nails. He would scrub with Lava soap. I would kiss all his "owies" better. Sometimes when he was plowing snow at night I would ride along with him. The factory parking lots were empty and dark.
|Dad as a young man|
|The house had a large front yard on Military Road|
|Alger working on the station. Dad's car.|
Finally we were ready to open the station for business. We had just received a load of gravel and I was spreading it on the driveway when a car pulled up to the gas pumps. He practically had to bulldoze his way there, but he said he wanted to be our first customer. He lived up the street on Military, and his name was Witmer, and we always called him Witt.
|Levant (Lee) Becker, dad's uncle|
"In the (above) Lee is painting the fence. Years later I replaced the fence and I said “the first person that damages this fence will be killed!” Well soon after, I was working on a car that had no brakes, and had to park it so I could work on another car. When I drove out I forgot it had no brakes, and drove right through the fence. So much for threats and predictions.
|The Rosemont Station and tuck|
"When we first opened I quit my job and dad continued working at Chevy, on the night shift, and at the station during the daytime. But not long after he started having chest pains and could no longer work. He had always worked hard, had been a Fire Chief at the Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Company, been a Boy Scout leader, hunted and fished, so the inactivity was hard on him.
|Uncle Lee Becker|
|Dad about age 17|
"In the winter I only wore a T-shirt and a Navy turtle neck sweater because if I sweat, then went outside in the wind to pump gas, I would freeze, so I was always cold. One night after I had worked about twelve hours during a snow storm I went into our apartment. All I could think of was to hop into a hot tub to warm up. I stripped and jumped in when the tub was filled. Then I noticed that some of my toes were black. This scared me because I knew they must be frozen, so I jumped right back out so I could slowly thaw them. I felt colder than ever then! I had bought new boots, and that day [had] decided to wear them. They were too tight, that is why my toes froze. I learned a lesson that it is better to have boots too loose than too tight! Since the boots were new, I gave them to a friend, Bob Cole, that worked at the station. Luckily, I did not loose any toes. [I personally remember this incident!I never saw Dad so upset.]
"Work during the winter was hard. Sometimes when it stormed it would drop up to 18 inches of snow overnight. The wind always seemed to blow, and when it stormed there could be snow drifts six to eight feet high. Then I would have to get up early in the morning to plow out the station, the house driveway, and snow blow a couple hundred feet of sidewalk, before I could open the station.
During bad storms, many customers’ cars would not start, and I would take mother with me in the tow truck. She would steer the broken car and I would tow her back to the station to repair it. Mother also did bookkeeping, drove to pick up parts, went to the bank, and took home customers while we worked on their cars.
|Typical winter snow; back of the Military Rd house|
"During the winter storms, the cars we worked on were loaded with snow on top, and underneath. Sometimes when we had them on the hoist, large chunks of frozen snow would drop on us. Also icy water dripped on us as we worked from below. Even though the engines were like blocks of ice, we had to work with bare hands, because gloves were too bulky. Since I could not afford to hire someone to repair things around the station when they broke, I did the work myself. I repaired the roof when it leaked, replaced broken windows, built shelves, sent out monthly bills, made out tax forms, and any other thing that had to be done.
"Sister Alice was a big help by entering the daily sales into the ledger. Occasionally I would have to hire Charlie Tingly for a plugged sewer, or a plumbing problem. The Oil Company repaired the gas pumps, hoist, compressor, lights, signs, and other equipment. Many hours were spent plowing snow from nearby business parking lots in the winter. Because my hands were wet so much of the time, they were calloused and cracked, and black with dirt and grease. When I got married I used steel wool to try to clean them. They looked bad! It was dirty work, and at the end of the day I would remove my shoes before I went into the house, and change before I sat down.
|The Station at night time|
"The man that bought the house and business was named Harper, and he used the station to run his gutter business.
"Harper ran his gutter business from the station for several years. Mother had sold the house and station to him on a land contract, which he eventually paid off. He either lost or sold the property, and it was torn down and a condominium was built there. They say the wrecking ball had a hard time breaking it up."
After moving to Michigan Dad found work at Chrysler and became an Experimental Mechanic. He loved his work.
|Dad at his job at Chrysler in Highland Park, Detroit|