Fourty-four years ago, Jim Smith opened the first Mobil service station at Garland Road and Buckner Boulevard. The station’s unique Spanish architecture and distinctive red Pegasus horse became the cornerstone of what is known today as Casa Linda Plaza.

“Gasoline was 20 cents per gallon then,” says Smith, who sold the station and retired last month at the age of 79.

“Times were different then. My salary was around $80 per month.”

Smith began his automotive career in California, but wife Virgie convinced him to move to Texas.

“After three years of vacation here, I just found the people so very nice and the women so pretty that I couldn’t resist,” Smith says.

“It was strange to me how the summers in Texas would hit 100 degrees, and the women looked so fresh,” he says. “In Oakland, once it got to 80 degrees, the ladies looked hot and tired.”

Virgie Smith joined the Jim Smith Car Care Center 35 years ago as bookkeeper. The Smiths didn’t have children of their own, but Smith says they feel as if they have a family.

“Some of my customers have been trading here for 40 years,” Smith says. “Then, their children began trading with us, and now are proud to have their grandchildren as customers.”

Known as a talkative, quotable man, Smith was more sentimental and reflective as he discussed the end of his Mobil tenure.

“So many of our customers have been by to wish us well,” he says. “We all feel like family.”

So what’s in store for the Smiths now that they’ve sold the gas station?

“Well, my customers have me traveling all around the world,” Smith says, “But we think for now we will rest up and do a lot of things we haven’t gotten to do yet.

“We live in Lake Highlands, and it will be nice to come here (to the station) and let them take care of us.”

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