A Fond Farewell

This may not seem significant to you, but this is the end of an era. This gas station, Prairie Village 66 and before that Prairie Village Standard, is a neighborhood icon. Was. Mr. Blandings’s family has known the owners from way back and we go out of our way to get our gas here because, well, that is what we do. Did. We took our cars to Roney’s for gas and air and tires, but we also took them there when something was wrong, something that we knew they couldn’t fix, knowing that they would send us somewhere good and fair. Because, well, that is what they did.

One of my best friend’s husband has a flat and while they run their own company, well, they are a little befuddled about what to do now that Roney’s isn’t there. The lever that pops open my mother-in-law’s gas tank has been stuck for months, little trouble as the guys at Roney’s knew how to open it without a hitch. You may see her driving around town with that little door flung open. Helpless.
I know it will be one of those things I will continue to refer to, one of those things the boys will tease me about, “Mom, Roney’s hasn’t been there for thirty years,” as my friend teases his mother who still refers to Stix Baer Fuller.
But they will remember it, too, because they envy not just Mr. Roney but his son as well. To my boys, at least, very few things could be cooler than owning a gas station. How could you beat fixing things with your hands, having a legitimate reason to be dirty, while your friends stop in to get their oil changed, leaning on the counter for longer than they should while the fumes of gas and oil and hot cement drift in through the open door? The fact that the coffee resembled discarded WD-40 mattered not.
The thing that I love about this town is the same thing I loathe; it feels like Mayberry. But a little less so today.
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22 thoughts on “A Fond Farewell

  1. I admire you for buying your gas there, whenever I know I'm crossing State Line I make sure I have enough in the tank to get back. That extra nickel on the Kansas side just irks me. For repairs I was the same way about Wornall 66, it seemed like they could fix anything and they always beat the estimate.

    Here's hoping that whatever goes in next is still something useful for everyone.

  2. I can't believe it's gone! Where will I pump my stroller tires…and burst them…and have John drive me home with stroller & boys in tow?! Great tribute to Roney's – Mayberry has some great qualities.

  3. We lose our towns & our shared history bit by bit, sometimes without even noticing, but not this time. Who'd ever guess that a gas station would inspire a more memorable & heartfelt eulogy than a lot of people do?

  4. I so understand how sad it is when small beloved institutions close. We have had that happen to several of our family owned operations where we live also. We recently had a Whole Foods open in our town and while I certainly appreciate all the wonderful products they offer, I still shop predominantly at our small local family owned grocery store because well that is what I do too.

  5. Don't you hate to see icons go? Alas, we still have one here in my town on the prairie. And all of the "little old ladies" go there! For they pump your gas! (what a concept!)

    And I remember as a child Sunday drives where we would stop for gas and everyone would get a pop from the machine! That was a Sunday treat!

  6. David – There will be a UMB branch there.

    Lara – I love that story and it so easily could have been me.

    Magna – It was one of those places where one would always be happy to be – can't say that about many gas stations.

    quintessence – I'm with you on that one as well.

    Martha – they still had full service at Roney's, too. I overheard a, no old, woman at another gas stations saying, "It's not that I can't pump gas; I don't want to. I miss Roney's."

  7. I believe in old fashion treasures, and a Mayberry town is my kind of life. I live in NJ, 50 mins. from NYC (which is fun), however, I treasure our corner gas station that pumps the gasoline, the town hosts family day festivals in the Summer and Autumn and values small town life.
    I would put a photo of that gas station in the family photo album, as a rememberence.

  8. I know exactly what you mean. I think it has a lot to do with faithfulness, honesty, love of place, neighbors and steadfastness. All wonderful time tested values that we sometimes forget to honor in this technology driven era. Thanks. Mary

  9. I worked at Styx Baer and Fuller!!! – Cosmetics – 1975 – Independence – across I-70 from Crackerneck Country Club. HA!

  10. My mother in St. Louis still refers to Dillard's as Stix. She can't even bring herself to address the loss of Famous Barr to Macy's. One of her fondest memories is going to the downtown store with her mother for lunch and a fashion show.

    I'm not familiar with the service station in question but having lived in KC in the early '80s, one of the things I appreciated the most was the collection of one-of-a-kind shops and small-scale retailers who were so pleasant to deal with. I remember one store that was nothing but English muffins.

    And back in those days, the Plaza was filled with stores and restaurants unique to the area. While it is still nice, it doesn't feel nearly as special now that most of the places are just branches of a national chain. Time marches on.

  11. I swear you should visit Rye sometime. Talk about Mayberry! The gas station I use has been there since the 50s, at least. I am now spoiled b/c they pump the gas for me. It's literally across the street from my neighborhood, so very convenient. I could pay less if I drove farther, which my husband would prefer, but I love supporting the little guys.

    ~ Elizabeth

  12. I grew up in a small town in NW Florida can understand the sadness at seeing a long time business close, this touched my heart. Keep the great post coming. xx peggybraswelldesign.com

  13. What a lovely eulogy on a kind of life…..that seems to be leaving us……
    'Hope Springs eternal! Here in Montecito!

    I wasn't allowed to watch TV;;;;;;;;

    However…..I snuck!

    Ozzie and Harriet! (how to go back to how to raise polite children……..and table manners………family dinners…..

    "Klunk" coming!

    I went to a reception

  14. I attended Prairie Grade School so Prairie Village was my Mother's shopping area. The corner drug store, the Cake Box Bakery, Cricket West Dress Shop and up on the other end was a fabric shop owned by one of my classmates mother's, Mrs. Swift. All along the creek were tall old weeping willows. JC Nickols built a wonderful small commercial district that supplied everything one needed. Now it has all changed, the stores I remember are long gone and so much more commercial development has gone in on the south end. Growing up in the 1950's was charmed, and even then I knew it. I just didn't know how much I would miss it. My family left Kansas City for Los Angeles in 1956 never to return. But I hold Prairie Village in my heart.

  15. I don't remember any of those places because I am from the east, but… I love how you wrote your farewell. Just lovely.

  16. Another one bites the dust. I truly don't think of myself as an old fuddy-duddy, but something I'm really noticing is that change is increasingly not for the better. The day our local garage, where the spirit and service is exactly what you describe at Roney's, gives way to another art gallery is the day I move.

    Great post. It turns out that the world is not necessarily becoming a better place.

  17. I, too, have been reeling since learning P.V. Standard was no more. I still call it Prairie Village Standard…shows you how long I have been going there. I wasn't sure where I would go for repairs and servicing. I trust them. Good news though….while driving by the station one evening two weeks ago, I saw two of the "guys" (employees) helping load up equipment. I pulled into what is left of the station and was asking where they would be working. They told me not to fret, John Rhoney is working very hard to find a new location, probably in Fairway. They have not taken new jobs and will call me when they know where & when. I keep hoping they will move to 60th & Mission…close to the Hideaway. A station closed on the NW corner a long time ago. It's vacant. Keep your fingers crossed!

  18. Of course the thing about Mayberry that make me sad, when old spots disappear. My dad avoided the old Standard for years after he got yelled at for filling his tires, without asking, when he was about 10. He was able to move on eventually, and would be sad to know the old filling station had gone the way of far too many other things. Please, not a bank.

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