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Pieces of the Past: The Lighthouse

October 26, 2023

Competition in the gas station business is a whole lot different today than it was 60 years ago. Back then “you could trust your car to the man who wears the star” or “You put a Tiger in the tank.”

Back then you’d pull into Munksgard and Logan and Jake would be out there like a one-man NASCAR pit crew. He’d fill your gas tank, check the oil and clean your windshield. Refineries made gasoline and sold it to independent businessmen. It was up to the local guy to “market” himself. Two fingers on a sign indicated Kendall motor oil lasted TWO THOUSAND MILES! A Dinosaur stood for Sinclair gasoline. Gas stations sold gasoline and auto service. Grocery stores sold food.

Each gas station had its own personality. Of the many gas stations that dotted Pennsylvania Avenue the Lighthouse gathered the most attention. Standard Oil owned the Esso brand of gasoline. Once they saw Warren’s Lighthouse they were all over it! If a local guy was willing to build a “sign” like that, they’d work with him. I was told that when the structure was first installed, there was a light at the top. In the mid 30s the lighthouse was a beacon (I couldn’t resist) on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Conewango in Warren.

The gas station, and its lighthouse served the neighborhood into the late 70s and early 80s. By then, corporate greed came into play. Franchises were “adjusted” making it impossible for local owners to make a living. I can remember when the gasoline business as a whole started to turn, Pennzoil was the first to publicly admit that even though the sign at the station displayed their name, the gasoline was no longer Pennzoil. Kendall, Sunoco, Philips, Texaco and even Esso did the same. Since only a portion of America needed gas but EVERYBODY has to eat: the refineries got into the food business.

The lighthouse disappeared because both it, and the gas station were past their prime. A beverage distributor is where the actual gas station was. The spot for the lighthouse is part of the parking lot.


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