Letters From Leton: $19.66 or 1966

To help the busy ladies here at the Wise office, I go to the post office for the mail. It gives me a chance to interact with other masked folks – the community and personal interaction I miss the most as part of COVID.

On a recent post office run, I stopped by a gas station just up the road to fill up the Bank car. Card swiped and fuel hose activated, I walked into the convenience store to get a water. 

The lady who managed the place – a sharp witted lady – and I spoke, giving one another our usual “hard time”. 

During our conversation I asked if she remembered the original station. She said no. 

As I walked back to the car, I remembered my father pulling up to get gas at this same station years ago.

Gas was twenty-five cents ($.25) a gallon. Two fellows would come out of the garage to take care of you. One would take your money and pump your gas, and another would check your oil, radiator fluid and air pressure. And you got “Green Stamps” to boot, which you accumulated to get china (my momma still has some).

When I got to the gas pump I replaced the hose. The cost was $19.66. I pressed for the receipt which did not come, so I returned inside and asked the manager for a receipt. 

“The pump with $19.66,” I said, and she printed my receipt.

As I walked back to the pump I thought back to the station in 1966. The attendees servicing the car. The fact that you could not – even if you wanted to – pump your own gas. A man-made rule, I thought, and one that could not outlive commonsense or consumer choice.

Times have changed at gas stations. Yet here was this station – in the same physical place – yet different though – still adapting and surviving.

Times are changing in banking too. I wonder if banks will adapt and survive or try to prevent people from learning how to use technology and convenience services to take care of their own finances? If we are not helping people, aren’t we stopping them?

After all, people did learn how to pump their own gas, and the convenience stores are still there.

– Leton


“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.