Downtown gas station offers full service

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Natchez-area drivers who depend on assistance at the gas pump now can get it again.

The Chevron station at the corner of Homochitto and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets offers full service to motorists every Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Ross Partridge of Buffalo Services.

&uot;When Forrest Foster closed, a lot of older people used to going there had no place to go,&uot; Partridge said, referring to the Foster Chevron station on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, which closed in July due to the Natchez Trace construction at Liberty Road.

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Foster catered to people who did not want to pump gas or were physically unable to do so. Partridge knew the void that closing would bring.

With requests from several former Foster customers, Partridge began to look for someone to provide services at the Homochitto Street station. He turned to Frank Pitchford, whose experience includes 35 years in the service station business.

Pitchford said he gladly came out of retirement to spend a day helping customers with gas and other services. The most recent Tuesday, his second day on the job, was busy, he said.

&uot;A lot of them were former customers, and there will be quite a few others, I’m sure, once they find out about it,&uot; Pitchford said. &uot;There’s such a need for full service.&uot;

Pat Cox was not expecting full service when she stopped for gas Tuesday. She was pleasantly surprised.

&uot;My mother-in-law and I both went to Foster’s. I think it’s a great idea.&uot;

The new service began on Aug. 31, at no extra charge to the customer. &uot;We’re pumping self-serve gas,&uot; Partridge said. &uot;And it seems to be going fine. Today, there are still a lot of people who want their windshields wiped and their oil checked. We’re trying to give them what is expected of a full-service station.&uot;

Amon Jordan was one who took advantage of the Tuesday service. She, too, was a former customer at Foster’s station. Furthermore, she and her family for many years were customers at Pitchford’s former Texaco station.

&uot;It’s wonderful to have this service,&uot; Jordan said. &uot;And it’s so good to renew my friendship with Frank Pitchford. He had taken care of our cars for years. Many of us are grateful to Ross Partridge for offering this much-needed full service.&uot;

Mary Rogers Jones was another one glad to take advantage of the Tuesday service. &uot;I really don’t know anything about checking my oil,&uot; she said. &uot;Natchez needs at least one station like that. We have more older than younger people.&uot;

In Vidalia, La., Automotive Services, 1204 Carter St., also provides full service for its customers, said owner Chris Allen.

He follows the lead of Charles Rankin, who owned the station for many years before selling it to Allen.

&uot;There are so many elderly people who can’t get out and pump the gas, and they like to see the familiar faces, too,&uot; Allen said. &uot;And the ladies who dress for work and stop for gas don’t like to get the smell of gasoline in their good clothes.&uot;

Allen offers all the services that gave stations the name &uot;service station&uot; years ago. His customers can come to Automotive Services for all the general repairs and tune-ups, as well, he said.

His station is open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.