Gas pump museum to be open one day only

{gallery}/05_24_11/sherwood{/gallery} There was a time when gas was nineteen cents a gallon, air pressure was checked in tires, the windshield cleaned without asking and all performed with a friendly smile. Those days are pretty much gone. Gas is $4 a gallon and the rest is either do-it-yourself or, as suggested, done in exchange for a tip. For a journey back in time when a set of glasses or salt and pepper shakers might be offered with a fill-up, a visit to Don Sherwood’s Vintage Gas Pump Museum is the ticket for a return trip to a bygone era.

For the first time ever, Sherwood will open his Shady Cove museum to the public on Saturday, June 18 during Father’s Day weekend. Sherwood is offering the tour to benefit senior programs at the Upper Rogue Community Center because he feels URCC is a vital part of the community with valuable services such as transportation to doctor’s appointments.  

When walking into the museum, visitors are greeted by Darrell, a life-sized figure of a gas station attendant. Although only a mannequin, his eyes have a way of following people as they absorb the history Sherwood has managed to collect in 29 years. Adding to the ambience is a large model airplane hanging through a skylight.

Tickling the senses is the smell of old grease— a not unpleasant smell that is reminiscent of old garages and cars. In fact, it can be addicting, says Sherwood with humor or is he serious? Whatever, Sherwood obviously feels a deep connection to the past and gets pleasure in showing what he obviously considers objects of art.

Over 60 gas pumps dating back to the 20’s are on display. “I just love history. I love the stories behind it and the styles behind them (the pumps). They reflect different eras,” says Sherwood about his collection. Some are art deco and one pump reminds him of the Chrysler Building in New York City. Workmanship was everything in those days, Sherwood marvels as he runs his hand in admiration over intricate workmanship.

Two of the displayed pumps were featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 2005 and that is another story Sherwood likes to tell.

As well as pumps, the museum is filled with memorabilia such as antique toy giveaways, bright neon and porcelain signs, old oil cans filled with the original oil, vintage magazines and so much more.

Sherwood gives credit to his wife Nancy for taking his focus from the original collection of just gas pumps. Nancy gifted him with five or six cast-lead English made miniature pumps that range from about two to three inches high. “I really changed direction. I now have lots of toys but the trouble is, I can’t give up the pumps,” says a smiling Sherwood who at one time got a hernia from moving a large pump.

According to Sherwood, Nancy says he collects rust. During the telling of this, he is wearing a custom T-shirt that brings a laugh and reads, ‘My wife says if I bring home one more pump, she is going to leave me… I sure will miss her.’ He adds, “She always knows where to find me—in the museum.”

Visiting the 2,400 sq. ft. building is sure to be a visual, sentimental and educational treat for anyone, whether a man, woman or child. Six-foot tall signs with the Mobil Pegasus or the Flying A, along with items from discontinued gas stations such as Magnolia, Seaside and Gilmore, will remind people of the old days. Trucks and other vintage toys dating back to 1936, original graphics and a Shell Sign with wings from the Grants Pass Airport are sure to bring back a memory or two when premium gas was called ethyl. And for those not so old, it is just plain fun to see the museum.

Sherwood, a retired auto-theft detective from Torrance, California is asking for a $3 donation from adults, with kids under 12 free. 100 percent will go to URCC. It is his way of helping senior programs that he feels are “pretty cool.” For the hungry, an on-site BBQ by Jeffro’s Grill will be available.

The museum is located at Highway 62 at Cedar St., near the former Two Pines restaurant. A huge sign with a beckoning gas station attendant on the corner of the intersection will point the way to the museum. For more information, call Sherwood at 541-878-5068. Visit his website at www.vintagegas.com
By Margaret Bradburn
For the Independent

 

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