Walker's Sunoco Station in Landing, New Jersey 1932-1999
Walker's Sunoco Station, Landing New Jersey, 1937 photo
William H. Walker inherited some money, he decided
to use it to open a gas station. He felt that
gasoline would be something that people would always
need. Together with his son, Elmer, they had erected
a small building, got some gas storage tanks and
pumps and gasoline. The result was Walker's Sunoco
Station, opened in 1932, a family business that
would exist in Landing for decades. Many young men
in the area got their first job during high school
pumping gas there.
The station started simply as just a small building with two gas pumps but would evolve over the years to include service bays and other changes. Our father worked at the service station from its inception into the next few decades except for his service time abroad during World War 2.
A neighboring business was the Lakeside Theater (which is now the Leber Lakeside Funeral home). My father would recall how actors from the theater would walk by the station practicing their lines. The theater brought a number of then name celebrities to the area. Many times dad would mention how John Carradine had performed at the theater. My father took my mother to several shows there while they were dating and the programs we found in her estate show that among the other actors that appeared at the theater were James Dunn, Jackie Coogan, and Bela Logousi.
In 1957, my grandfather turned over the business to the "younger" generation and my father became owner of Walker's Sunoco Station. Dad recalled that the changeover was an unexpected surprise. In order to pay for the first load of gas for HIS station, dad had to use the money he had been saving for a new car.
During the early 1960's the station got some unexpected "reconstruction".
One winter's day, a man lost control of his car on the snowy road and ran into the gas pumps. The incident was thought to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime events and then . . . within a month . . .
My grandfather and another worker were sitting inside the main area of the building, relaxing between customers. Even though he had "retired", my grandfather missed the station and would put in a few hours a week part time. Many times people came in when business was slow and visited for a while. That night was quiet and my grandfather and the other worker were watching a small black and white TV when suddenly a car came through the building. A woman had run into one of the pumps, knocked it down, and then ran into the building. Any Columbus DUI attorney can attest to the fact that these types of car accidents can also occur as a result of driving under the influence.
During my father's tenure as owner, one of his biggest aggravations was over gasoline price wars. To increase business, gas stations would lower prices (can you image that). The idea was that the lower prices would draw business from one station to another and customers would continue to buy there even when the price rose again. However, there was only a certain profit percentage per gallon. Sometimes dad felt he was between a rock and a hard place in needing to cut prices to keep competitive but at the same time being able to make enough to cover expenses and feed his family. Plaid stamps, contests (such as Sunny Dollars) and promotions were other lures used to get customers to come in. Walker's Sunoco Station saw them all come and go.
|The 1970's saw the gas
shortage. People came on odd or even days to get
gas. Instead of being opened a full day, the station
was opened until the day's allocation of gas ran
out. Usually, one man handled the morning shift.
However, things were busy and people were strained
over the shortage. One could not do it alone so two
people got the morning shift.
When our dad retired, he didn't sell the station at first but started renting it to Brad Treacy. In 1999, a about a year after dad's death, Treacy bought the station which is now called Speedway.
Elsie Walker & Bill Walker
Walker's Sunoco Station, Landing New Jersey, photo 1947
Thanks Elsie & Bill for sharing these
unique photos and story of your Landing NJ family business.
These photos are not to be reproduced without permission from the Walker Family.
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