From the Courier-Post archives: 2011 interview with Harold Norman regarding full-service gas station
Norman's full-service gas station when it was located on South Main Street, Hannibal, Mo.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERYINTERVIEW: 2011
Harold Norman lived at 2307 Chestnut when he was a boy. At the time, his father, Rixie, operated a gas station on Mark Twain Avenue, and his mother was a homemaker. They only had one car, so when Harold wanted to go somewhere, he took a city bus. Now retired, Harold fondly looks back at the days when his family played an integral role in supplying the citizens of Hannibal gasoline for their vehicles. His father operated three different gas stations during his career. The first, on North River Road, is at the site of Hannibal's water pump house. Harold said the green tile from the floor of the Phillip's 66 station is still visible. The station was located by the railroad bridge, which also served vehicles until the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge was constructed in the mid 1930s. When the new bridge opened, Harold 's dad moved his station to Mark Twain Avenue to take advantage of travelers on U.S. 36. In 1956 his station fell victim to the state's plans to widen U.S. 36 (Mark Twain Avenue). The next move would be the last for Rixie, but not for his son Harold . Along with Harold 's brother, Richard, the Normans would operate a station on South Main Street until 1973, when the flooding Mississippi would seal the station's fate. Harold , by now working with Butch and Kenny Wilson, relocated out of the flood plain, operating a station at North Third and Bird streets until the station closed for good in 1991. During the last 20 years, Harold has witnessed the evolution from full-service gas stations, to today's self-serve models. Back when he was working, he always checked tires and oil, and washed windshields for his customers. "I never thought I'd see a woman pump gas," he said. His wife, Mary, readily admits that she has never pumped her own gasoline. "I haven't had to," she said with a coy smile.