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Guy Dean's Old Gas Station

Updated on September 18, 2015

Old Conoco Station

Large slices of my childhood were spent in North West Arkansas. The foot hills of the Boston Mountains, a part of the Ozark chain to be more exact. I know it’s not true, but almost everything seemed to be located on or directly off of Highway 71 North.

That’s where Guy Dean’s old Conoco gas station was…stuck atop a high crest between the two small towns of Alma, to the south, and Mountainburg to the north. One would be hard pressed to get more than 4 vehicles parked on the property at one time. I guess you could call it an unofficial land mark.

I don’t know when he set up business in that location, but it had been there since the early 1950’s when I was born. Old timers in the small community would stop at Guy Dean’s place whether they needed gas or not. They just enjoyed passing the time of day with him.

There wasn’t much to the gas station. It was a small, one room cinder block affair with an adjoining rest room…nothing fancy. There were only two pumps and a hydraulic lift for changing tires. If you had women folk with you who had to “tinkle” everybody knew to keep going and coast down to the bottom of the hill where “Meadors’” General store was.There was no mechanic since Guy never hired one. What little mechanical work needing done, he did. He never did more than sell gas and fix an occasional flat anyway. The furnishings consisted of not much more than a small old propane heater, a couple of worn wooden chairs and an aged coke vending machine.

Guy Dean

Guy was always called Guy Dean, not just Guy. Folks seemed to think it rolled off the tongue a whole lot easier that way I suppose. He was a slender, tall unassuming sort and never said a whole lot. But, when he did folks paid attention. Guy Dean was a local institution around Lancaster Township in Crawford County and a bit of a character besides. He could spin a yarn with the best of them. I suppose that’s why my grandfather and he were such good friends. Grandfather was a notorious prankster and could also tell a “whopper” or two.

The Dean clan had settled in the area along about the same time as my folks, the Gregory’s, back in the 1840’s. Some of the Deans’ got into the real estate business. Dean Springs was another small town not too far away.

Everybody knew Guy Dean as an honest, upright Christian and a good man to “trade” (do business) with. In those parts your word was still your bond. Break that trust and your entire family could be ostracized.

Most folks couldn’t help but know Guy Dean because of where his gas station was located. It was more convenient and accessible for the locals living out of town. That included the majority of folks. You had to pass it coming and going. Besides he was just the sort you couldn’t help but like. He was always courteous and friendly to people, even if you were just a little kid like me.

He had a pair of scraggly old brownish cats who had adopted the place as their home. They could both usually be found draped over the small counter in his store sleeping. One snored which always amused everybody, no matter how many times they heard it. The cats would curl up next to the candy and snacks crammed up next to the old-timey cash register.

I believe Guy didn't make much off those items, since many was the time youngsters didn't have any money to buy any and Guy would simply give it to them.

The gas stations’ décor was done in what you could probably call “early junk”. Guy Dean had an impressive collection of old car license plates displayed throughout the place. A lot of tourists passing through had offered big money for them but he wouldn’t sell any.

Guy Dean didn’t seem to have any interest in running that business. But his customers were glad he did.


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Although, I had nothing to do with that little station, it stands out as one of my fondest memories also.

    • profile image

      Johnny Dean 

      6 years ago

      Glad you remember my Grandpa and thank you for posting this story about him. I had a feeling it could be memories from a younger kid. We did have a propane stove in the station and the property did have a certain look to it. Most of the grandsons worked there at one time or another. Some of us more than others. I'm not sure how people would deal with a 12 year old changing their tires in today's world. But we did it quiet often and never had a problem. We were pretty good with a 4 way lug wrench for kids! I learned so much from working there. I learned how to respect people and how to talk to all kinds of folks from all different backgrounds. Our customers included lawyers, doctors, farmers, factory workers, septic tank pumpers and everything in between. I would not trade working with my family there for just about anything. It was an ugly little gas station and we never got rich, but it is one of the most important memories I have. My sons have heard me tell stories about working there and they wish they could have had the opportunity I had to experience such a unique piece of our family's history. Thank you again for the article and for remembering a man, who in most eyes, was just a normal "Guy" , but to us, was a hero!

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I'm glad you verified some of the facts. I knew your dad, and he was a good, honest man. I could have sworn there was a wood stove. Most of what I remember was when I was just a little kid. It looks like I may have confused some of my memories with other places in the area. I did know Guy as an adult, but it was mostly from visits I made over the years to see relatives while on leave in the military. My grandparents were Ora and James Sharpe. (Gregory clan)

    • profile image

      C.L. DEAN 

      6 years ago

      Amusing story but very little truth about it,I know because I worked there with him for 36 years and believe me,we didn't run it for fun. We worked hard 10 to 11 hour days,sometimes 7 days a week to make a living and we did until the EPA shut us down along with every one else like us. We never had a wood stove,he never went fishing behind the station and the candy was never stale and we sold a lot of it and he gave most of it away to any kid who came in. My dad was quite a man with strong opinions and he didn't care if you liked them or not and he would tell you so. You know,the only people who didn't like my dad,was people who owed him money. My dad believed in hard work and if you couldn't pay cash for it,don't buy it. He has been gone now for several years and folks still talk to me about him all the time and its all good. He was one of a kind for sure and I am proud to call him my dad. C.L.


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