Saturday Morning Oil Changes at Lawson’s Gas Station

((( A Memoir )))

Saturday, March 17, 1973

At 4 years old, I remember asking daddy could I stay in the car at Lawson’s Gas station as the car got an oil change.  The gas station attendant name was Mr. Charlie. He was white & from the Bahamas.  He had a Caribbean accent.  But, anyways he told daddy it was not any danger in me going up with the car.  Daddy said “Hey man, don’t bother around with that gear shift.  Other than that you good to go.”

It was awesome seeing the car being pumped up.  The car started off on ground level, and then Mr. Charlie reached over on the nearby wall and pulled a lever. I heard an air pressure sound.  I guess it was hydraulic. The car slowly began to move up in the air.  As it did, I reached out the car window and said “hey daddy, touch my hand.”  He did. I would grab it. Then, I let it go. 

Daddy most times, would let me experiment, and be as adventurous as I wanted be.  Only did he say anything, if danger presented itself. 

As I went up with the car, I remember the feeling that I had–I wanted to stay up there for a long time.  Now, I was even taller than Daddy and Mr. Charlie.  Right across the street was Brooklyn Church.  I was up in the air, way up pass window level on the church.  It was amazing to be up that high.

Once I got up in the air, I climbed up front with my little radio that I kept with me everywhere I went. I turned it on.  Most times, Motown music would be playing.

Here I am Lil Man, now, in the air in my own world.  Just like daddy told me, I did not bother that gearshift.  But, I did get in the driver’s seat, even though I could not see over the dashboard. 

Most times I would just stand up and hold the steering wheel and pretend I was driving like I saw daddy and mama do.  Daddy, would always keep his eyes straight ahead, and when anybody called him while driving, he did not even look to see who it was.  He would just throw up one finger to acknowledge to the caller that he heard them.  Years later when I got older, friends would say “man when Chief be riding, he don’t turn that head for nobody.”

Every now and then while up in the air at the gas station, daddy would say “how is it going lil man?…”fine”, I would say.

Sometimes, daddy would reach up and hand me a soda or some chips. 

Man, those were the days.

1973 (Memoir)

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