It was 1938.
Millions of young men and women were unsettled about their lives. America
was still experiencing the economic collapse called the Great Depression,
and war was on the horizon in Europe.
Into this setting two Douglas boys, Orville and Stephen Millar introduced
a gasoline station, in response to the public's passion for the
The location was perfect - the Douglas end of the new bridge. The age-old
Douglas-Saugatuck swing bridge had been removed and replaced by a modern
bridge for a new highway called U.S. 31.
Indeed, the station was proof that the new age of travel had arrived -
offering not only to "fill-it-up, sir?" but lubrication, tire sales, and
general repair. It was the day when "service station" meant service;
windshield washing, oil check, air pressure check for the tires, a ladies
restroom, a Coca-Cola machine - and even a credit purchase plan. The
records show that some people who got a "fill-up" did not pay up.
The square building was of cream-colored glazed brick and with a large
display window. Lubrication took place on an outdoor hoist. Three handsome
pumps, including one of the new "computing" types, were surrounded by
modern lighting for nighttime service. The brothers became local heroes.
But World War II ended the venture. Only a few weeks after the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the brothers informed the
Standard Oil Company that "we are resigning our position as operators of
this station." Soon tires and gasoline were rationed. The once-busy
Highway 31 Bridge was deserted except for trucks and busses and
Stephen enlisted in the U.S. Navy and Orville in the U.S. Army. Both
returned home in Douglas - Stephen to work for Chris Craft and Orville for
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