Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Full Service, Flint Style

All these memories of Shumaker's reminded me of Schmitzer's Service Station, located on Dupont near Stockdale, not far from Welch Blvd. It seemed like our car was always there when I was growing up. (There was an upholstery shop up the street run by Enoch Washington, if I remember right.) Bob Schmitzer was a great guy who weathered the economic storm and the declining neighborhood into the eighties — I think — before retiring to Florida.

Once, when self-serve was a cheaper option than full service, I rolled into the station with my mom's car and for some reason decided I'd opt for a little luxury and spend my $2 on full service. Mr. Schmitzer came out, took one look at me, shook his head, and basically told me to get my ass over to the self-serve pump. "Save you mom some money," he said.

No idea if there's still a gas station on that corner or not. The satellite image indicates there's still a building standing.

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UPDATE: J.L. comes through with some current information:

"Yes, the gas station is still there, now a Sunoco. Here are two pictures (taken from a former co-worker's Facebook) from that corner taken in 2006; my radio station was doing a gas giveaway. Go here for the first photo. And this is a picture at the corner of Dupont and Stockdale (you can see the street sign)."


  1. Yes, the gas station is still there, now a Sunoco. Here are two pictures (taken from a former co-worker's Facebook) from that corner taken in 2006; my radio station was doing a gas giveaway.


    This is a picture at the corner of Dupont and Stockdale (you can see the street sign):


  2. I loved this place as well. My late only took his car here. he was well treated and never ripped off by the owner. Mr. Schmitzer did not discriminate against my father which I remember quite well. The last time I was in Flint and I saw this place, there was a gas station there. jar with Most would know for sure though!

  3. J.L., you are fast. I just put this up. Thanks for the links. It's good to know it's still there. And I think one of the houses in the background of the second photo may be the old home of the Burke family. I spent a lot of time on that street and that area.

    Is that you with the mic? Or your co-worker?

  4. Yikes! Forgot that there was such a thing as full service gas stations. Do they even exist anymore?

  5. I grew up at Odette and Iroquois and my mom still lives there. I bought the very first gas I ever purchased at this station. I was 16, only had my liscense a week and dad let me use the car. I drove to the McDonalds on Clio Road to cruise the loop. My mom would sent me to buy her cigarettes there too.
    you earn trust and its a rapidly dying commodity. Anyone need a good repair place with honest owners, email me thru my blog. Its in Flushing btw.

  6. Oh no, that's my co-worker. I was bummed that I missed out on that event, since my girlfriend (now wife) and I were out of state on a vacation. It was quite an eye-opener for my brother, who was a seventeen-year-old intern at the time. We grew up in the middle of nowhere (LakeVille area) and working that intersection was a completely different world from what he was used to.

  7. I spent many of what seemed endless hours in the waiting room of Schmitzer's watching a black and white TV while our oil was getting changed. He was one of two mechanics (the other being Bruce Howe at Baker and Dupont streets) that my father trusted. He is still trying to find service like that and at the same prices.

    Kathy W.

  8. I dunno about you, but if I had a pair of kicks that needed to be repaired the only place I'd take'em was Johnny's Shoe Repair on Stockdale.

    Hearkening back to the old north, east, south, west side debates of yore, methinks I recall not one but TWO businesses right aound here with "Westside" or something akin in their name. For sure that colored my own understanding of the perceptual regions o' Flunt. I could be wrong bu..., nah, I'm right. South of Pasadena was still west... only a fool woulda trusted their Buster Browns to be resoled by some north end bum.

    Uh... wasn't there a shoe store in the plaza that included the bank that sold Buster Browns? I'm talking about the same one that housed Johnny's, a few party stores (Haffenrefer 64s for $2.39 !?!?!), Baskin Robbins, Pet Shop?? etc???

  9. I live on Patterson & Mt. Elliot in the 50's and that gas station then was a SUNOCO. My mother always bought her gas there, when I got my first car, (1931 Chevy) I bought my gas there too, fity cents at a time. They sold fresh eggs, a couple of my friends and I one evening swiped some eggs and later when it was dark we threw them at buses on Dupont. One bus driver stopped when we hit his windsheild and chased us, we cut through some backyards and I ran into a wire clothes line that put a real creas in my forehead but we outran the driver and all went home. Bad Boys


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.