Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pete’s Home Texaco

To passing tourists driving motor coaches and towing campers, Home Texaco is another stop on the road to paradise. It's where you refill your propane bottles before continuing on to Penrose Point or Joemma Beach, or top off your tank before heading home. If Pete’s Home Texaco were in the city, it wouldn’t be a gas station. With its view out across Jones Bay to Anderson Island to the East, it would be a fancy eatery or a luxury condominium complex. But in Home such views are taken for granted.

Home Texaco is the place to borrow a tool for an auto or tractor repair. Pete doesn’t get to do as many mechanic jobs as he might if his service station were in Tacoma, but he doesn’t mind. He likes the slow pace of life here and having friends for customers and customers for friends.

To locals, Home Texaco is a social hub. While filling your tank, you find out how far down Herron Road the County is going to be chip-sealing this week and when George and Leona’s 45th anniversary celebration will be. You already know it will be at the Longbranch Improvement Club. That's a given. Pete’s knowledge about the lives of those he serves makes him a better source of news on the Key Peninsula than any newspaper you could buy.

Pete is more of an ear-witness than an eye-witness because he hears about what happens to people rather than seeing it most of the time. But he did get to watch one of the most exciting events to occur on the Key Peninsula for the entire year of '96 when Jason Barns raced his '77  Trans Am up the Key Peninsula Highway –  Pete figures he was doing about 120 – careening down the patch of road that runs through Home and past Home Texaco. Here the road makes a 30-degree turn, a few feet from Pete’s doorway. When Jason tried to make the curve, the Trans Am rocked sideways onto two wheels and flipped. The car was wrecked. Jason walked away.

We all thought that would be the end of Jason’s racing, but six months later he was back to it. We just hoped we weren’t in his way the next time he flipped. Pete said that Jason’s wildness started when his mother died the year before. This kept folks from getting too mad at him, even though he was “an endangerment to the community.” But that’s what Pete does. In his own way, he helps everyone understand everyone else.

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