Guilderland garage gives a glimpse of bygone days

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Gas and go: The service station at the corners of routes 20 and 146 was once leased as a Mobil station. A new Sunoco station has been built at the site.

Most people (women usually) dislike it when they have to take their car to the garage for an oil change, new tires, or to fix “something.” This historian actually enjoys that task.

At Bruce Mance’s station on the corner of Route 20 and Route 146 (Carman Road) in Guilderland, the waiting room there is a short retreat from today’s frenzy.

There are two tall, slim ancient gas pumps, astutely refinished to their original splendid red color, holding fort in the waiting room. “Mobil” shouts the name though today it is a Sunoco station.

Pictures of many years gone by adorn the walls, and recall the history of the western end of town and the station itself. In a glass-enclosed case, models of automobiles of every type draw the oohs and ahs of present car owners awaiting repair of their modern car.

And then, nicely stacked magazines are shelved above, the kind you don’t find in the beauty salon. Preservation, American Hunter, Golf, HGTV Makeover, LaCucina Italiana, and Conservation keep you informed of the important things in life. All of this makes getting the oil changed an informative respite.

On the other end of the room, if you are lucky enough to be there in early spring, large wooden shelves against a sunny glass window hold the beginning sprouts of a garden salad. Lettuce, peppers, parsley, rosemary, basil, and even tomatoes begin their life in that bright, warm spot.

Bruce Mance Sr. leased the Mobil station in 1976 and purchased it in 1984. There was a Wil Roy Drive-In for ice cream also on the property at that time. He later demolished those buildings and built new ones in 1994. 
The front “store” is well stocked where all sorts of necessaries are available.

Mance and his son, Bruce Jr., station manager, are life-time residents of the town of Guilderland. Bruce Mance Sr. spent his childhood on Schoolhouse Road. Both Mances were students in the Guilderland Central School district.

“It was a great place to grow up in,” said Bruce Mance Sr. when questioned about running a local gas station, “I like to give back.”

This historian feels that the Mances are doing just that.