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    Texas | Architecture | Gas Stations

    35 Years of Humble Service

    San Antonio's C.K. Brown

    by Mel Brown
    Humble Oil Mule Drawn Wagon and CK Brown , San Antonio Texas 1920s
    C. K. Brown started delivering by mule drawn wagon
    Photo courtesy Mel Brown
    Editor's Note: The following letter from Mel Brown, author of Chinese Heart of Texas, furnished us with these two photos and the accompanying story, which will begin a new series in TE entitled Texans at Work.


    At age five, I went to live with my grandparents in San Antonio. My grandfather, C. K. Brown was nearing the end of a 35 year long career with The Humble Oil & Refining Co. as a truck driver and was then marking time daily by running errands for the regional depot. For most of the previous three decades he had delivered Humble petroleum products throughout South Texas and all over San Antonio first by mule team, above, then motor transport. But for that first year before entering grade school, I became his pint sized partner running around S A with him to the various Humble stations in a '49 Chevy pickup truck. We delivered tires, parts and products, picked up extra cash on hand for bank delivery, took orders, etc. and I had the time of my young life. "CK" was well known and loved by all, so at each stop the garagemen vied for my attention by offering me cold soda pop, peanuts from the penny vending machines, or candy bars etc. And naturally, there was always the omnipresent bell in the office to ring by jumping on an air hose laid across the driveway for customer's tires to hit. Those were needed to alert busy or inattentive gas station workers to customers needing service in the years before Self-Serve came along.
    Humble Oils tile sign, San Antonio old gas station
    "The Last Humble Gas Station"
    TE photo
    Anyhow, my very dim recollection is that the old station featured as "The Last Humble Gas Station" was out on either South Nogalitos or Flores streets. Whichever it might have been, it was a delightful surprise to see it again and still standing.
    Humble Gasoline Truck Humble depot San Antonio 1930s
    Photo courtesy Mel Brown
    That's "CK" on the right with his assistant driver in the photo which was shot at the old Humble depot on El Paso St. just west of downtown. His truck was decorated for the annual Battle of Flowers Parade of 1930 because in those days the historic event included a commercial section made up of businesses, merchants and vendors from all over town. - Mel Brown, Austin, June 11, 2007
    CK Brown and assistant driver, Humble oil, San Antonio Texas
    C. K. Brown (right) and assistant driver
    Photo courtesy Mel Brown

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