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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Carl Sellers ... Mapping the changes in downtown Thayer

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Carl Sellers goes through some old photos taken of the shop soon after it was built in 1935. The shop was once a Sinclair gas station. Photo by Emily McIntosh
The Golden Age of the automobile started soon after Henry Ford created his Model-T and the assembly line for it. Soon shiny new cars were rolling off the line for waiting customers to drive them off the lot. Many dirt trails and highways that once led horses, buggies and wagons to their destinations had to be upgraded to smooth paved roads for the newer automobile, which was becoming more and more popular.

Carl Sellers, owner of Sellers' Shop on Front Street in Thayer and a local amateur historian, knows a lot about the history of Thayer and surrounding areas.

He said his interest in history started with looking up his ancestry information about his great-grandfather, who was in the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Some of the early photos of the shop show the gas station with glass tank pumps which were used to measure out the gas.
Before gas stations came around for cars, Thayer relied, and still does, on its railroad industry. According to an old map of the town, Sellers said there used to be what was called a division house ran by the railroad and was used as a hotel for the railroad workers. Another map Seller has indicates that where the police station is now was once a chicken pen. "Where the police station is now was a chicken pen to raise eggs and chicken for the people traveling on the railroad," Sellers said. He said the train depot had a hotel and diner inside.

Old maps can tell quite a bit of history. "I've got maps of this town going back to 1883," Sellers said.

According to an old title to the shop, before a petition was passed in 1886, Thayer was known as Augusta.

The maps Sellers have were drawn up for insurance purposes back in the day. He said he was able to get copies of these maps and donated them to the Thayer Historical Club. Sellers kept copies. According to the maps, several buildings, including a building were The South Missourian News office is, burned down along Chestnut Street in 1893 and were mapped as empty lots at that time.

But, as the maps updated, so did the roads. Automobiles came on the scene, and a couple of gas stations began to pop up on the maps.

Sellers said his shop was built in 1935 and owned by Fred M. Daniels Jr. and his wife Artha. Daniels' father was known as the man who built most of Mammoth Spring, Ark., Sellers said. In 1972, Sellers bought the shop from Artha.

The architecture of the building has a Spanish look to it. The building has beige stucco walls leading up to Spanish-style clay shingles on the roof.

When it was built, Sellers said, the building was rented from the Daniels couple and used as a Sinclair station. "They (Sinclair) agreed to pay Mr. Daniels $45 a month payable on the 25th day of every month," Sellers said.

In an old photograph Sellers was able to obtain, the side car bay was used for washing and greasing, or lubrication, as it was later called. The front bay, facing Front Street, which was once a part of Highway 63, was used to pump gas.

"In 1937, they had to measure (gas) in the old glass jugs. You could get one gallon or two gallons. You couldn't buy $2 worth or $3 worth to fill it up, and by 1940 they had changed two of the pumps out to the new-fangled pump," Sellers said.

In one of the photographs, a small sign with a hand pointing behind the station advertised liquor. Sellers explained there was an old log cabin behind the station where the proprietors sold spirits. Sellers said, at that time, liquor was still outlawed in Arkansas, so Arkansans would come up to Missouri to buy their liquor. Sellers said the liquor store was a pretty rough place. "There were people killed," Sellers said.

"In 1972, I purchased it (the shop), and I ran (through) Gulf (Oil) and then Gulf pulled out, and I will be starting 38 years (in business) in July," Sellers said. "I bought it when I was 19 years old."

The shop is no longer a gas station, but it is still used to service vehicles. Sellers said he does exhaust work, minor welding, mufflers, oil changes and other selected repairs to vehicles. Sellers is now semi-retired but his shop is still open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon and by appointment.

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Hey, interesting article. Would be nice to see the old town of Thayer restored. Your building is looking really nice. Loved reading about the history of Thayer.

-- Posted by Garden Girl on Sat, Jun 20, 2009, at 11:26 AM

Good article cousin Carl. Enjoy you retirement.

Barney's boy, chobee

-- Posted by troutman on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 7:06 PM

Carl I remender when We charged gas at your station and you had the fastest car in town, Raleigh

-- Posted by Raleigh on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 9:16 PM

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