This is a 1988 photo of Groveland’s Mobil Service Station, across Main Street from the Iron Door Saloon. You remember those places, where full service meant your gasoline was pumped by an attendant, your tires, oil, and water were checked and your windshield washed all without asking. Local gossip was dispensed and if you were traveling through, recommendations for dining and lodging were also freely given.
In 1937, the frame building with stucco walls, large wooden garage doors, and island of gas pumps was originally Caplinger’s Texaco Service Station. By today’s safety regulations, the gas pumps would have been considered far too close to a busy State Highway but past standards were much more relaxed.
Carlo de Ferrari, our county Historian, worked for Earl “Cappy” Caplinger while a high school student in the 1940s. Earning 25 cents per hour, he offered gasoline customers full service and also sold tires, batteries, headlamps, fuses, spark plugs, and two grades of motor oil. Then regular gasoline was selling for 13 cents a gallon and ethyl for 15 cents. Those were the days. Caplingers also offered towing for disabled vehicles and full repair services.
During the 1950s, Fred Osborne owned and operated the service station calling it Groveland Auto Service. One unique feature was the large hole in the garage floor allowing a mechanic to work on a car’s undercarriage without needing a floor lift or hoist.
This important structure from Groveland’s past is now home to the Iron Door General Store. The Caplinger Family is interred in the Oak Grove (Divide) Cemetery in Big Oak Flat.
— Frank Perry is director of the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society.