Going to get gas for the family car used to be fun. When the family car pulled under the canopy at the Campbell & Ranz Conoco station in Huntington, the workers sprang to action. One person pumped your gas and cleaned the front and back windshields while another raised the hood and checked the fluids. Someone else wiped the headlights and taillights and, if you purchased a certain amount of fuel, someone presented the driver with a gift. The gift may be a placemat with famous artwork depicted or perhaps a collectible dish. The kids in the car may get something as well such as a pencil or a toy of the Conoco tiger.
Donald and Naomi Campbell and Leroy and Marie Ranz went into the service station business in December of 1946. Donald and Leroy were brother-in-law’s. They opened the place at 5:30am and didn’t close until 10:00pm, 363 days a year, closing only for Christmas and Thanksgiving. The price of gasoline in 1946? Twenty-five cents a gallon!
The full-service service station was also a bus stop for Greyhound Lines. A long, wooden bench sat by the right side of the angled platform going into the building. Just beside the bench was a tall, wood telephone booth. To the left of the doors was an ice machine that you passed before you got to the tire-changing area. Donald Campbell is said to have usually fixed more than twenty flats a day.
The inside of the station was busy with hanging fan belts and water hoses for any car imaginable. A Coca-Cola machine sat in the center where you could pull your drink around a ‘cattle-guard’, dragging it through cold ice and water that chilled the sodas and made your wait for the mechanics worth the time. The ceilings were unbelievably tall. Several rows of vintage Coca-Cola advertisements on hard cardboard circled the interior walls from the ceiling down.
The building has stood at the corner of Broadway Street and Highway 71 since the very early 1900s. Rumor has it that it was once used to build and repair wagons before automobiles were introduced to the area, but the early photo above shows how the place appeared in 1926. It was owned by J. W. Harwell during this time.
The nation was involved in a gas crisis in 1973 and gasoline became hard to get due to embargoes of the OPEC nations. Campbell & Ranz’s began closing on Sunday for the first time and having shorter work days. They sold the business to Byron and Betty Puckett in 1976.
The two families, their children and grandchildren provided wonderful service to the residents of Huntington and surrounding area for so many years. The memory of this old gas station is forever in the memory of the people it served.
(Some information taken from A History of the Mansfield School District Area, date unknown)