One of my favorite rules of the road trip is pull over often! Roadside America is a destination in itself! The teardrop is a little harder to pull over on a moment’s notice, but I take it pretty slow. No need to speed when your home is the road!
Cruising the scenic “high road” to Taos, also known as Highway 68, I spotted rows upon rows of vintage gas pumps and then a sign: Classic Gas Museum. This I had to see!
The proprietor, Johnnie “In Rust We Trust” Meier, has been collecting Route-66 era gas station memorabilia at this location for about 15 years, in tribute to the glory days of cheap gas, cold sodas and gas station attendants who would not only pump your gas, but also check your oil, inflate your tires and wash your windshield, all in the name of good customer service.
You can’t buy gas at the Classical Gas Museum, most of the pumps have been out of commission for decades, but you can get a cold soda out of a vintage freezer. Some of the memorabilia is for sale, but there are no price tags anywhere. I get the feeling that if you want to buy something, you have to talk Johnnie into parting with it and the price reflects how good a home he feels like you’ll give it.
I’m always interested in where collectors get their stuff. Johnnie said most of the more than 100 antique gas pumps at the museum came from farms. On a few rare occasions, I’ve come across old analog pumps at gas stations way out in the middle of nowhere. The kind where the numbers flip on a reel. Still no attendant (unless you’re in Oregon or New Jersey!) but the old pumps have no credit card reader so you at least have to go inside and exchange pleasantries with the clerk.
I’m too young to remember the classic gas days, when road tripping was as American as apple pie. It seems these days we’ve traded customer service and conversation for credit card convenience. Me, I’d rather go back to the good ol’ days, gas prices, cold cokes and all…
In the market for your very own vintage gas pump? Johnnie’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.