Signal Station Prospective…..#43 (the 50’s)

A typical neighborhood Signal Station

A typical neighborhood Signal Station

Gary having relinquished his Oakland Tribune paper rout as did his friends,  Hank Ball and Don Bryant had before starting high school.  The midterm student in his final semester at Frick Junior High, discovering a subtle change in his now high school friends.


Sirens wailing,  the sound echoing from Gary’s bike,  bellowing its approach down Shone Avenue,  getting closer to Fletcher’s Signal Station across Mountain Boulevard.  Several high school teens with modified cars,  their header pipe covers removed having heard his approach. They  quickly began turning off ignitions,  silencing the deepthroated engine sounds emitting from the by-passed mufflers.


The teen gathering stood waiting for the appearance of a law enforcement black and white, presuming someone had complained about the noise.  Heads turning toward the oncoming sound,  a nervous shuffle detected among the group,  save one,  Ted Riley, the older high school graduate who worked evenings at the Signal Station,  he knew that it was only Gary and his bike siren.


Ted having graduated from Bishop O’Dowd Catholic High School, the newest school in Oakland,  a member of its first graduating class.  He worked weekends and evening from five till ten, being the only station employee in addition to Ed Fletcher, the owner. Ted watching the street rod group scramble.


Releasing the cord fastened to the latch which swiveled the bike siren against the tire,  the sound coming to an abrupt end.  Gary pedaling across Mountain Boulevard to the  service station, promptly discovering he wasn’t the most popular person in the assembly… The teenager was spending more time at the station in the evenings, Ted letting him assist in full service stops.  He also had a new-found interest, Ted’s 1950 red Oldsmobile convertible.   Ted having yet to modify the engine from stock, but having glass pack twin mufflers and air-lifts shocks installed in the rear to give a forward rake appearance.

Gary having made a decision, but was hesitant in approaching Ed Fletcher about a position as an attendant or helper, but finally deciding otherwise.    He was disappointed with Ed’s explanation, the teen would have to be older to pump gas for reasons of  insurance, but could perform the other service tasks,  such as windshields, checking the oil, tire pressure and general shop cleanup.  But, There was one major difficulty,  the station didn’t need another employee.


The Station was mostly a neighborhood business, patronized  by  local residence, the staff  and visitors of Oak Knoll Naval Hospital located a half mile down the road.   The two lane meandering Mountain Blvd. wasn’t considered a major thru way,  but was used by many in Hayward or San Leandro wanting to bypass Oakland’s congested traffic when going to Richmond,  the North Bay or Caldecott Tunnel to Orinda and Martinez.


Gary understood the employment situation,  having an awareness of the stations business aspect and volume.   His spring enrollment to Castlemont High was approaching and for the time being it would be best to maintain the status quo and continue to hang out and be of some help to Ted, besides just to be party to the 50 Olds boasted his resolve.



Setting aside his employment situation,  he reasoned some ambitions need to go undiscovered until ready to be fulfilled, and was confident a solution was destined to  come with time.


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