Large dance held at gas station grand opening

Hannah Gross

Hannah Gross

NLJ Correspondent 

With Leonard Cash, historian


For the past four weeks, Leonard Cash has been going through the history of Weston County Bank, which was located on 204 W. Main Street (lot 1 of block 11). However, the bank building burned down in the 1912 fire, and when the bank reopened, it was located in the present-day Cashbox Ceramics store. So, the lot remained empty until 1929 when lots 1 and 2 became the site of a gas station, owned by Craig Chevrolet Co., which is where we pick up this week. 

According to an article in the Feb. 7, 1929, issue of the local paper, Lane Construction Co. received a carload of bricks to begin construction on the filling station.

By May 30, 1929, it was scheduled to open on June 8. Manager Thomas Shoemaker planned to give away coupons at the grand opening for a free half gallon of motor oil with the next refill, and toy airplanes and rubber balloons were to be passed out for the “kiddies.” That evening, the community was invited to a free dance hosted in the garage of
the station. 

“It occupies lots that have been a hole in the ground for about 15 years and the fine building is a credit to our principal street … completely equipped to give up-to-the minute service to auto owners whether it be gasoline, oil grease job, battery or tire service,” the article says. 

On June 13, 1929, the paper reported that the grand opening was a success, and the management team was well pleased with the turnout. Bringing in a “spirit of festivity,” there were more people in town at one time that day than any other in the last year, the report says. Throughout the day, patrons watched a demonstration of motor oil qualities by a factory representative, which was both informative and time worthy. At 8 p.m., the “big dance” began and “attracted a crowd that packed the large room to capacity and overflowed into the street,” with music furnished by the Black Pirate Cambria Casino Dance orchestra from Kansas City, Missouri. 

The Aug. 1, 1929, issue of the paper announced that T. Schonoled of Denver joined the management team to take charge of the body and
paint shop. 

“Drive in and let them take a shot at the damaged car body or fender,” the article says. 

A few months later, Chevrolet had plans to construct an addition, according to a news report from Jan. 2, 1930.

Changes in management came around April 28, 1932, when the Newcastle Service Station was leased to Charles Martens and W.K Paulson, who were the owners and operators of Wyoming Oil & Gas Co. 

Joe Slenker, a mechanic, took over the lease a year and a half later, announced a September 1933 issue, and he added an agency for Essex
Terraplane automobiles. 

According to courthouse files in Miscellaneous Record Book 7 from Sept. 17, 1934, there was a party wall agreement between Martens and Walter and Margaret Dickey, owners of the adjoining lot to the service station. 

By Dec. 20, 1934, the station received new shipments of 1935 Model Terraplanes, including two sedans, a coupe and a coach. Four more vehicles arrived in March. 

The Jan. 10, 1935, issue of the News Journal announced that Ford Motor Co. appointed E.C. Hunt as their dealer in the region. A year later, around Feb. 19, 1936, Slenker of Newcastle Service Station assumed the dealership for Ford Motor Co., changing the name to Slenker Motor, reported the Feb. 19, 1936, paper. 

Three years later, Slenker no longer ran Ford dealership, so according to the March 2, 1939, issue, the Wyoming Motor Co. was moving to the Martens building. The building was renovated and redecorated, and J.E. Oliver was the new manager. The Wyoming Motor Co. was formed by locals to offer a complete line of Ford, Mercury, Lincoln Zephyr and Lincoln automobiles. The gas produced came from fields in Wyoming and from the Barnsdall Corp. 

“They quote Mr. Ford’s statement that ‘many adjectives have been used to describe cars, but only say this year’ this is the car that we have always wanted to build, it speaks for itself. See it,” the article says. 

Unfortunately, the motor company was victim to a fire around Dec. 13, 1945, possibly caused by a bale of cotton waste stored in the basement under the tire rack. Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire, but when the tires and tubes started to burn, the visibility decreased. Martens reported the estimated damage to be about $5,000. 

In August of 1956, Naramore Ford Sale became the new dealer, but by March 19, 1959, a new building was being constructed on West Main and Second Avenue. The new building would have a display room for three cars, an office and a service department area. The shop was to be built of block, while the rest was made with glass and brick trim. 

On July 27, 1959, Naramore Ford Sales opened for business and manager Joe Naramore invited the town to visit the new location.

Since the building on block 11 was vacant, B and H Skelly Service, owned and operated by William Holwell and Howard Sorenson, opened up its business there around Oct. 8, 1959. 

By the Oct. 19, 1961, issue of the paper, the B and H Repair Shop was named the GMC dealer for Newcastle and already had a 1962 truck
on display.

According to an article from July 13, 1967, Naramore sold his business to Ed Siel and Blake Williams from Denver. The Sept. 21, 1967, paper said they had their grand opening, and the 1968 Ford Mercury was on display, along with other Lincoln and Ford trucks. 

A year later, Jack Walkup joined the Ford sales department, reported the Oct. 24, 1968, issue, and on Feb. 8, 1973, it was announced that a body shop managed by Clifford Wilson was opened. 

Williams eventually bought Siel’s interest in the company because Siel purchased an interest in the McGee Murphy Ford in Rawlins, stated an article from Sept. 12, 1974. The company was renamed      Blake Williams Ford.

A news report from March 5, 1981, announced that Roger Anderson of Cheyenne purchased the shop from Williams and Don McColley, changing the firm‘s name to Roger Anderson Ford Inc. Mike Waggener was hired as the salesman to work with another salesman, Roger Lindley. Anderson grew up in Montrose, South Dakota, graduating from Dakota State at Madison. He was a free agent for the Kansas City Chiefs football team until he was injured, and later, he played for the Continental League in Omaha. 

That wraps up the discussion on the gas station that was in the building, so Cash will discuss the history of the National Bank in next week’s installment of “History on Main.” However, Cash wanted to announce that after we finish up this block and do an article on the Chief Hotel, “History on Main” will be discontinued indefinitely unless a sponsor for the series can be found.


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