From gas stations to sidewalk dining areas

DEL MAR — Addition of a half-dozen sidewalk dining areas will definitely fatten the city’s coffers, and entice more folks to visit downtown who will even become shoppers.
Changing the face of Del Mar has never been easy and has always been a slow process. A few residents still remember when there were gas stations on almost every corner and some in between. It will forever be a mystery why there were more gas stations in the village than elsewhere on Highway 101 between Leucadia and Torrey Pines.
Not surprisingly, competition for business was rough and tumble. For a 10-gallon purchase of gas, a motorists would receive a piece of Chinaware and were encouraged to collect the entire set by returning every week. The Richfield station offered a Jimmy Allen pin for a kid to wear on his shirt. Allen was a popular pilot that was the fictional character on a radio program. It was expressly for the younger audience. But you could only pin so many pins on a shirt so the promotion had a short life.
The Flyin A station included a garage and Kenny Fitzhugh’s Union 76 station garage maintained a tow
truck that picked up
wrecks between Leucadia’s “Slaughter Alley” and the Torrey Pines grade.
All stations provided a free oil check, windshields were washed, and tire pressures were checked. Most stations sold tires, fan belts, batteries and other accessories. These were installed while the customer waited.
This era faded out in 1966 when Interstate 5 opened and motorists abandoned “Gasoline Alley” as it was called. It was a time for residents to celebrate but a sad happening for the kids who became jobless.
So, yes, a half-dozen sidewalk places to dine are far more attractive and lucrative to the city than a dozen stations where motorists paused only long enough for gas and to use the toilet.