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Lucks Zephyr Service an icon on the avenue



T.C. Luck, as photographed during his time with the military during World War II. Photo provided by his daughter in law, Marcia Luck.


MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


In February 1955, Kenneth Campbell Baker announced the purchase of J.D. Streett and Company of Maryland Heights, Mo., marketers of Zephyr gasoline and oils, with outlets in Central Mississippi Valley states.


The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, “Baker said all activities of J.D. Street & Co. Inc., will now be directed toward the transportation and sales of petroleum products and the expansion of outlets for Zephyr products.”


In November of that same year, the Western Zephyr Service filling station opened at 2610 St. Mary’s Ave., selling Zephyr gasoline for 24.9 cents per gallon.


The lot where the station was located was carved from a hillside on property previously owned by James P. Hinton, and subdivided by his widow, Mary Richmond Hinton in 1930. The property became known as Hinton’s Subdivision.


The owner was 39-year old Kenneth Domingo Yount, a station manager for Fischer’s Fleet Service in St. Louis. No evidence could be found showing that Yount ever lived in Hannibal; instead he resided in St. Charles, Mo. By 1959, Thomas C. Luck, a World War II veteran and former baker for Rupp’s Bakery in Hannibal, was managing the Hannibal service station.


On Jan. 1, 1961, the Quincy Herald Whig announced that Yount had sold the station property on St. Mary’s Avenue to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Luck. The Lucks, in turn, entered into a 10-year lease agreement with the J.C. Streett Company, to sell Zephyr gasoline products.


Legacy

The service station would carry the Luck name for nearly a quarter of a century.


The Luck family continued to sell Zephyr gasoline until the mid to late 1970s, when they switched to Standard Oil products. The business name was changed to represent this; the station became Luck’s Standard Station by 1977.


In the early 1980s, the station expanded to include Uncle Tom’s Sports Center, selling hunting and fishing gear. A second building was added for this expansion.


T.C. - as he was known - died on the first day of February, 1985, at the age of 67.


By 1986, the business operating as Shortstop Convenience Center, selling Amoco products, deli, groceries, beer, wine and liquor.


Neighborhood staple 

T.C. was on St. Mary’s Avenue to witness many changes between 1959 and 1985.


He was there to watch the end of one era, and the beginning of another, when the old Goody Goody Sandwich Shop building across the street on St. Mary’s Avenue was torn down to make way for Crawford Smith’s new funeral home in 1963.


He was there when the St. Mary’s Pharmacy moved from 2702 to 2900 St. Mary’s Avenue.


He was there during a short period when U.S. 36 came past his station. The highway entered Hannibal on James Road, went south onto St. Mary’s Avenue, onto Broadway, then north on Third Street to the entrance of the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge. U.S. 36 was rerouted along Mark Twain Avenue in the late 1950s.


He was there to provide gasoline for the new Corvair, introduced in 1959-60, as Chevrolet’s response to the popular foreign-built Volkswagens, Renaults and Fiats. (My siblings and I remember when our mother, Mary Louise Spaun, would trade at T.C.’s gas station, asking for a dollar’s worth of Zephyr gasoline for her Corvair.  As was true with all gas stations at the time, T.C., or an attendant, pumped the gas.)


He was there when the A&W Rootbeer Drive-In, owned by Alfred Borgmeyer, was located on the south side of the St. Mary’s Avenue/James Road intersection.


He was there when George D. Bastian had a barbershop at 2705 St. Mary’s Avenue.


He was there when James M. Dillinger, long-time music instructor, lived directly across the street from the service station, at 2611 St. Mary’s Avenue.


He was there when Tandy and Gertrude Hayes operated Hayes Market nearby at 2527 Broadway.


He was there when Hurley G. Adams operated Adams Market at 2921 St. Mary’s Ave.


And he was there when the Piper family operated Piper Service Station, Tourist Court, Auto Transmission Shop and Trailer Park nearby at 2901 James Road.


Early years

T.C. Luck was the youngest son of a Hannibal tailor, Thomas C. Luck Sr., and Mrs. Luck, the former Nellie Reneau.

Mr. Luck Sr. died in 1930, at the age of 55, when his son was just 12. To support herself and her young son, Mrs. Luck took on a job as a “canvasser for toilet articles” with the J.R. Watkins Company of Winona, Minnesota.


T.C. left school at the age of 13, in order to help his mother with deliveries.


T.C. registered for the draft in 1940. This record shows that the blue-eyed, blonde 23-year-old was employed by the J.R. Watkins Company at the time of his registration. A later Hannibal city directory suggested that he was a distributor for the company.


T.C. enlisted in the Army on May 19, 1942, at East St. Louis, Ill. After the war, he returned to Hannibal, going to work as a baker for Rupp’s Bakery.


T.C. was married to Vivian Reynolds (the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Reynolds) in the spring of 1947.


His mother, Nellie, died in 1954, at the age of 77. His wife, Vivian, died in 2011.


Childhood memories

Tim Rice, who graduated from Hannibal High School in 1964, remembers T.C. Luck. He said that there was a sign in the shape of a horse on the Luck station lot, cut out of plywood and painted black, that said, "Free ice water." He also remembers that boys from the nearby St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary, 245 N. Levering, would sit on a log on the hill behind the station, and smoke, while they watched cars drive by. The wooded seminary property backed up to the Luck property.


Brand continues

J.D. Streett & Company is still in business, distributing the ZX American brand of fuel, including gasoline, diesel, bio-fuels or ethanol based E-85.


The company website states that “ZX® takes it name from Zephyr® Express.” The business headquarters remains in St. Louis.



T.C. Luck stands beside the gasoline sign in front of his service station, located at 2610 St. Mary’s Ave. This photo was contributed by T.C.’s daughter, Linda Luck Tymchek, of Stow, Ohio. She believes the photo was taken in the mid to late 1970s, after the service station switched from Zephyr fuel to that provided by Standard Oil Co. The house behind Luck, at 2603 St. Mary's, was owned by John B. Antweiler in 1925, and was later occupied by Antweiler's daughter, Annie Delphanie, and her husband, Waldo Emerson Jones. Waldo died in 1955.




The Western Zephyr service station had its grand opening in November 1955. At the time the station was owned by Kenneth Domingo Yount of St. Charles, Mo. T.C. and Vivian Luck purchased the station in January 1961. Otis Howell photo/Steve Chou collection


Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on Amazon.com by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Montgomery.editor@yahoo.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com

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