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Friday, March 4, 2011

In memoriam: Mr. Jewell 'Bullet' Gray, a true car guy

The gas station of the modern era, it seems, is almost more Wal-Mart than gas station: Sleek, shiny Exxons and BPs advertising gourmet coffee to morning commuters and nearly everything you could want on your way home from work, from dijon mustard to toilet paper to fresh pastries and multiple exotic flavors of Jelly Bellies.

Gray's on Main Street in Warrenton is not among those.

Gray's is a service station. You came in, Mr. Bullet would pump you some gas, or fix your fan belt, or change your oil. Notice I said he would pump gas. This isn't a self-service operation.

You didn't ask Mr. Bullet what aisle he kept the dijon mustard on. Or the gourmet coffee. He was a car man. The last time I was in his station, I think he may have had a couple of brands of candy bars for sale on the rack, but had a much greater selection on offer of chewing tobacco, along with several sizes and types of fan belts.

I'm sad to report that Mr. Bullet passed on a couple of weeks ago. You can read his online obituary from the Augusta Chronicle at this link.

Mr. Bullet had serviced my family's vehicles and pumped tanks of gasoline for a long, long time. He fixed tires on my car and changed the oil on my grandmother's Toyota, and dutifully jumped off her battery when it went dead, over and over again, from disuse.

Like I said, he was a car man. They just don't make them like him anymore.

I never did think to ask him how he got the nickname "Bullet."

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