Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Chevron Daze

I stayed working at the Ritz through grade 12 and first year of college after cutting my hours back because after all, my candle only had two ends and I was burning both pretty steadily. After my first year of college (called grade 13 back then) I became available for daylight work and my boss, Walter Jackson, asked me if I wanted to move over to the Chevron gas station he owned on the corner of Hamilton and Georgia streets. I would be running the front end (gas pumps and cash) while my friend Al would be the lube and oil guy (remember those full service days?). It was a much less frantic job and paid a little more, plus it was days. A win, win situation. I think my hours were noon to six, six days a week. No union here.

Vancouver's Queen Elizebeth Theatre was just across the street and had performances many nights. Seeing an opportunity to earn a few overtime dollars, Al and I asked Walter if he wanted us to stay at night and sell parking to the theatre patrons. His response was, "We are too small a lot to make it pay, so no". The station closed at 6:00 and we watched many cars park for free on the lot as we left so we asked him again several times. His answer was always, "No".

Well, Al and I thought it was time to be a little enterprising on our own. We could squeeze about 12 cars onto "our" lot and there was a tiny empty dirt lot next door that would hold another ten or so (3 wide, 3 or 4 deep) if they parked like sardines (we had no idea who owned that lot). One night we stayed late and charged people $.50 to park. It was a big hit and we were sold out in a half hour. We were so successful that after a week or so we raised our rate to $1.00, a lot of money in those days of $1.50 per hour wages! All we did was stand at the entrance collecting cash and handing out a slip of paper with "Paid" hand written on it to leave on their dash, not that we ever checked. They parked themselves at our instructions and were so packed in that they had to leave in the reverse order they arrived but we had no complaints. We only hung around until we were full or the performance started at 7:00 or 8:00 so that meant we were splitting $20 plus the odd tip for that extra hour or so! Walter never got a cut as we had given him every opportunity to cash in himself. I don't know if he knew what we were up to or not. If he did, he never mentioned it. The free enterprise system in action!


  1. Great read. My story is quite different but the conclusion is similar. Those were quite the fun days, weren't they?

  2. We sure did have a lot of fun back then and so many ways to make extra cash as well.

  3. Good for you! Even way back then you were successful and an entrepreneur, the promise of great things that came to be you today.

  4. The best job I ever had: I was 15 years old sunning my self at the local sprung a leak rock quarry when the new owner walked up and asked if any of us lay-a-bouts wanted a job. I took the job. It involved tearing down all the old mining buildings and building campsites. Tractors, bulldozers, chainsaws and explosives were my new friends. These people had deep pockets, the equipment was all new, like nothing I ever saw on the farm. The best part was the quarry, this was the early 70s, clothing was hit and miss for the swimmers. The smoke was on the water, the best summer job I ever had. The place is still going strong, google Nelson Ledges Quarry Park for a look see.

    1. Interesting site Norm! I read through the list of bands that have played there and I think I am safe in saying I do not recognize even one of them! ;)

  5. I took a van load of boys there ten years ago, 13-14 years old . The bongos did not stop until dawn. I reciprocated in kind with my pots and pans while cooking breakfast for the kids. I fed the bongo players as well when they rolled out at the crack of noon. No hard feelings.
    As to the bands-I hear ya brother.