‘Gus’ Station’ may be moved to fairgrounds
‘Gus’ Station’ as it sits today
By KATHY PAULSEN
For many years, the highlight of the day for a kid at the Ellendale School was a quick run across the street for candy at Gus’ Service Station.
Those days are long gone.
The kids are probably grandparents now and the little building on the corner of School Street and 8th Avenue has been closed since 1981. But look inside and you can still see the image in your mind of the good times it provided. It looks just as it did when LuAnn ran the candy counter.
Now, the building’s future is in doubt. But there’s a movement afoot to preserve the building and the memories.
The owner of the building has agreed to donate it to the Ellendale Area Historical Society with the stipulation that the building be moved and the lot cleaned up.
The Steele County Historical Society found a place suitable for Gus' Station at their Village Of Yesteryear at the Steele County Fairgrounds.
This is a great opportunity to preserve a part of our history, but it will cost money to not only move the landmark, but to reset it on a foundation, rebuild the bays, which are beyond repair, remove the cement block from the service bay area and clean up the lot once the building as been moved.
In considering ways to finance the plan, the enterprising Ellendale Area Historical Society thought of all the "kids" who used to visit this building while they were growing up. When people were approached about the project it was like writing a book about the memories they all could remember of "Gus' Station on the corner by the school" during this particular era of their lives.
With that in mind a campaign was started, letters drafted and sent via the U.S. Postal Service or e-mails, trying to contact any and all that had a part in the adventure. The response so far has been great.
With an estimated cost from $10,000 to $15,000, its worth is measured with nostalgia beyond dollar value.
If you want to be a participant in saving this landmark and want to help or contribute to the project, checks can be made out to the Ellendale Area Heritage Society, Gus's Station in the memo and sent to Barbara Mrotz, at P.O. Box 255, Ellendale, MN 56026.
The history of this little building includes the fact that in 1931 Hember Steele built what is believed to be the first gas station in Ellendale. Highway 30 at that time ran a different route through Ellendale. Through the years this little building has been a symbol of progress and served any number of purposes besides selling gas and oil products. For a time in the 1930s, the Jefferson Bus Company had a bus stop there.
Many people have owned and operated the station over the years. Franklin Dahl bought it from Hember and operated it until he built a new gas station on the "top of the hill" in Ellendale. In 1936, Harvey and Mabel (ZuelkeI) Mohs took over the Phillips 66 franchise, and ran a bulk truck. Harvey later switched to Mobil gasoline for his delivery truck. Neil Johnson operated the station from about 1937-1943. Neil left the retail business world when he became a police officer in Ellendale. Neil later moved to Blooming Prairie in 1948 and worked in law enforcement until his untimely death in 1951 while on duty.
In 1941, during World War II, newlyweds Iris and Norman Kuntz, called the building "home" and lived there during the war years. Adolph and Martha Anderson and their family also lived there at one time. Martha was an excellent seamstress. She sewed, did alterations and clothing repairs for many people in the Ellendale Area from her home.
In 1946, Gus and Hilda Jacobson purchased the building and once again it was used as a gas station. Gus changed the franchise to Stardard Oil and added two service bays, one for oil changes and lubes and the second for tire repair. The Gates Rubber Company awarded Gus several service awards. Gus did many types of service work over the years while operating the station. But, the best was yet to come.
Gus and his wife, Hilda, were host and hostess to a multitude of children who used their noon hours from school to make a trek to Gus' Station for the candy counters inside the building. They contained Black Jack Taffy, penny Tootsie Rolls, Mallow Cups, Cherry Humps, Sweet Tarts, Peanut Butter Cups, Rainblow Bubble Gum, licorice and jawbreakers, and much more, all priced from a penny. Ask anyone who attended school what their best memories were of Ellendale High School and they will immediately say, "Going to Gus' Station during our noon hours."
At one time, Roger Sommers used the building for an office selling used cars. His wife, LuAnn Lee Sommer Granholt, kept the candy counter open from 1976 to 1981. It wasn't the candy so much as the adventures of going to Gus' at noon hour that the students enjoyed.