In Memory of J.B. Milano

The Oil Change

John Milano and I were a couple of 17 year old Juniors in high school that worked part time at our neighborhood Pure service station washing cars and pumping gas on Saturdays and sometime Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. The station offered different brands and several grades of motor oil. The owner of the station Mr. Johnson told us to ask the customer as to what grade and brand of motor oil he wanted when we did an oil change. Easy enough to do and it made the customer happy. One Saturday we were busier than a one arm paper hanger in a hurricane. Our in house mechanic Big Bill had the gout so bad in his foot he finally had to get off his feet and Mr. Johnson's' young brother Pete sent him home. We had a waiting area in the station where the customers could wait while we serviced their cars. Mr. Harry Meachum drove a 1939 Packard straight eight and brought it in for servicing. While waiting his turn he sat in our waiting area looking at the different ads and new products that we offered. What caught his eye was a new detergent motor oil that could clean your engine from the inside removing dirt and other impurities with this new oil. What a lot of people didn't understand was that older cars ran non-detergent oil simple because it was the only oil available. When Mr. Meachum's car was put up on the rack and the oil drained, John asked Mr. Meachum what kind of oil did he want? Mr. Meachum had been impressed by the high detergent oil ad and told John to put it his car 30 wt standard. What Mr. Meachum and John didn't know was this was a no no in older cars, had Big Bill been there he would told Mr. Meachum not use the HD oil in his engine because it could create problems.

Mr. Meachum paid for the oil change and lube job and drove out of the station. Like I said; we were running our tails off this Saturday washing, pumping gas, and now changing and lubing cars. While I was pumping gas in a car at the pumps I could see a pale of white smoke coming up the street about a block away. I thought to myself that guy needs a set of rings in his motor. That smoke was coming from Mr. Meachums car and he was coming in our station. I finished up the gas sale and walked over to Mr. Meachum's car where John and Pete were talking to Mr. Meachum. Mr. Meachum said; my car started smoking about a block from home and got worse the closer I got my house. Pete ask Mr. Meachum to step out and let John put it on the rack where we could look for the problem. I went back to work. Pete and John were looking under the car for an oil leak scratching their heads. Pete called Big Bill on the phone and told him what happened. While talking he ask Mr. Meachum what kind of oil did he have John put in his car? Mr. Meachum said; I wanted try some of the new high detergent oil because the ad said; it would cleam my motor from the inside and it had never been cleaned on the inside. Pete relayed the information to Big Bill. While listening Pete began shaking his head from side to side. I was busy helping Willie in the wash pit and couldn't hear anymore of the conversation. Later that afternoon I got a break and ask John what happened with Mr. Meachums car? John said; Pete just said; never put high detergent oil in an old car. As to the smoking Packard, I assume that either Big Bill or Mr. Meachum took it to the Packard dealer and they fixed what to be fixed.