Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Write it down

One of the challenges of writing a book about historic gas stations, or about any type of historic structure for that matter, is finding the personal stories. Making connections with the owners, operators, and individuals who worked in the 59 stations spread throughout the state was one of the most rewarding parts of the project. Families graciously shared their snapshots and engaging stories with us for Fill ‘er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations.

Mark Mowbray, a former employee of the Yellowstone Garage in Fond du Lac, was kind enough to recently share a history he compiled. The 20-plus page history details the history of the station which was built about 1920 along the Yellowstone Trail. Mark’s father, Jim Mowbray, operated the garage from 1949 to 1966 and Mark’s interest grew out of his “employment” there.

The History of the Yellowstone Garage documents the names of those who owned and operated the garage over the years, notes how roads changed in the area, and includes several historic photographs. Mark also included fun anecdotal memories about tow truck calls for cows and drunks alike. All of the information included in the short history represent an important effort to document pieces of personal, architectural, and local history. Clearly, the Yellowstone Garage was an important part of their lives.

Thank you Mark for documenting this part of your family’s history and slice of life. I hope that others follow your lead and choose to write it down.

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