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On The Road With Johnny B: Praising Old Fashioned Gas Stations and Why eBay is Ruining the Old Car Hobby

Remember the good old days when you jumped into your Land Barge and went on a road trip? Before your journey you stopped by your local service station..

I was raised in the 1960's. In fact born July 4th, 1960. So yes I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy and a big fan of an old fashioned American road trip.

Long before cable TV, reality TV and Nav Systems people climbed in their no A/C bench seated road hogs and took a family trip. You had no iPod or videos just an AM radio and my Dad's 1964 Buick Electra 225. Gas was cheap so if you got 12 MPG in your highway barge you were king of the road. We took alot of trips when I was young. We would all pile into the Buick and hit the road.

The first stop was the local gas station or "service station." My Dad would say "Fill er up with super!!" With "Ethel" being only 36 cents a gallon you could afford the best in your Electra or Eldorado. A man in a uniform would fill your tank, check the oil, check the tire pressure and wash your windows. All with a smile and the tip of a hat. Alot of these gas stations were palaces of light and colors. Squeaky clean and had a great old Coke machine outside.

They had no convenience stores just gas and oil. That was OK because you went to the Bohack or A & P to buy your groceries in those days. They had great names. Texaco, Esso, Shell, Sinclair and Power Test. Even the TV ads were cool. Texaco had "You can trust your car to the man who wears a star" and sold you "Sky Chief" gasoline. Air was free from the old Ding Ding air pump. You could ask for directions. Get a flat fixed and use the rest rooms. Most of those great old gas stations are long gone. Replaced by self serve and places that are open 24/7 with cold looking convenience stores.

 In some places you can get full serve but the pump jockey looks like he is one step ahead of immigration. No more clean uniform. No tip of a hat. No "can I check your oil?" No old Coke machine outside. Only swipe your card and move on. The modern gas station is like our society it moves 24 hours 7 days a week. We text, blog and email till we sometimes have no conversations or human contact. In those days most places were closed on a Sunday including your local Power Test or Sinclair. What did you do? You actually spent time with your family on a Sunday. Monday would come around again and you would go fill er up at your local gas station. Your friend Gus would fill it with super, wash your windsheild and you would chat about what you did on a Sunday with your family.

Let me say this: eBay is ruining the old car hobby. Tough words from a person that has used and made money buying and selling automotive crap on eBay motors. So yes I'm a hipcrite. The problem as with most thing in life eBay motors has just gotten to big. Much like cable TV the original concept has been lost. When cable TV came around in the 1970's it offered you the basic channels plus cable access, movies and yes later MTV. Those days MTV only showed music videos. hence the name "Music Television".

All this with NO commercials. Now that we have 900 channels (and still nothing to watch) you are subject to dozens of commercials regardless of what you watch. Ebay's original concept was a giant yard sale or swap meet for the masses. What a fantastic idea.

When eBay motors arrived all of us car nuts were thrilled that we could find our bargains with just a click of a mouse. It worked at first. Part of the fun and the horror of building or buying a classic car is the hunt. Plodding thru a swap meet like Carlisle or Hershey is part of the adventure. eBay had that at first.

Then something happened. Dealers and greed. You have now car dealers selling new and used vehicles. Hell if I wanted to go to a dealer I would. No bargain to be found. Most of the new auto parts are now sold by retailers faking that they are giving you a deal. The used parts are buried under 1000's of new listing next to impossible to find. I even know of some retailers gobbling up inventories to corner the market. If I wanted to pay full price for a new part I can visit my local NAPA store.

Even vehicle prices have been effected. At a recent swap meet I heard a dealer say "Why would I take that price when I sell it for more on eBay to a foreign buyer" Hmmm really !!  I see all this corporate attitude changing the car show scene. Heavy hitters with big trailers are now out pacing the old Mom an Pop vendors at every car show I attend. The old guard is being pushed out by eBays might and a monopoly on internet classic car sales and parts market. If eBay was a bank or utility the federal government would of sanctioned it years ago. Ebay needs to be split into two divisions. One for new cars and parts by dealers. The other for used cars and parts by Mom n' Pop. People should be given the choice. Bargain or over paying for item they can buy anyplace else.

If eBay isn't controlled soon we risk a new generation of car lovers never having the experience of a swap meet or finding an old car in a barn. Control eBay now or the entire destruction of the old car hobby is around the corner. 

This story brought to you by Port Jefferson's own Carlisle Johnny aka Johnny B  www.carlislejohnny.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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