Full-service gas station era ends as Mask closes his doors in F’ville

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The last full-service gas station has closed in Fayetteville, not to mention the last station owned by a native Fayette Countian.

Jerry Mask, 69, has lived and worked here most of his life. He began delivering groceries on his bicycle at the age of 12, delivered them by car at the age of 16 and was graduated from Fayette County High School in 1962.

One of nine children of Roland and Mary Lou McElwaney Mask, he has worked for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Police Department.

In September 1985 he purchased the service station on Ga. Highway 85 South, near the former Melear’s Restaurant. The station had been in existence since 1957.

What does owning a small local service station require? Knowing your customers, for one thing. Many of them either grew up with Jerry or went to school with him, and Jerry knew which ones he could allow to charge their gasoline and which ones he felt should pay cash.

Back in the day, local businesses had books with duplicate pages. If you were privileged to charge your gas or your groceries for a month, and the end of each month you came in, charges were added up, and you paid them in full for that month.

At closing, Jerry had 34 booklets on hand, with many coming in and paying him for the last time. For those who forgot to do so, remember, Jerry knows where you live.

After being at the station from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. since 1985, Jerry decided it was time to retire. Besides being time to retire, here are a couple more reasons.

Yes, his gasoline might be 10 cents more than the new commercial service station down the street, but anything else you might need there, there will be a charge for it. Jerry did not charge for putting air in your tires or wiping down your windshield after a rainstorm.

Then there were the ladies who would drive in and tell him their husband told them to go to Jerry’s and have him check their tires. Jerry would ask the ladies if they needed gas, and the reply was always, “No, my husband filled up [somewhere else] last night.”

He has found a good job for his longtime employee, also a native Fayette Countian, Jerry Lindley. It’s a good one, Lindley said, with good benefits.

Jerry is now looking forward to enjoying his membership in the Fayetteville Masonic Lodge #711 and the Fayette County Shrine Club.

He is also going to enjoy his children, grandchildren, and yes, even great-grandchildren.

Thus ends an era of the way things used to be.