Friday, March 09, 2001

Ludlow pumped over gas station

Town did without for six years

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LUDLOW — After six years, residents of this tiny Ohio River town have no more excuses for running on empty.

        Just in time for Wednesday evening's rush hour, commuters celebrated the opening of Ludlow's only gas station.

[photo] Darryl Crawford, who works in Ludlow, fills his truck at the new gas station in Ludlow.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        “The gas is flowing again in Ludlow,” said a jubilant Lance Little. The co-owner of the town's AmeriStop Food Mart watched for nearly an hour as a steady stream of Elm Street motorists pulled in to fill their tanks.

        Fifteen minutes before the station opened for business, Mr. Little had two customers waiting to purchase his Shell gasoline.

        “Are you pumping gas yet?” Terry Michael shouted as he parked his Chevy S-10 by one of four new gas pumps.

        Mr. Michael hadn't planned on being the first customer, but the 41-year-old Bromley man said he couldn't resist when he saw the sign advertising that the station was open for business.

        “I've been waiting ever since I heard they were building the gas station,” Mr. Michael said as he pumped $16.25 worth of gas into his vehicle. “Now I don't have to go out of my way to get gas before I go to work.”

        As recently as the 1970s, Ludlow's downtown boasted four gas stations in a five-block area. But by 1995, tough market conditions and stiff federal regulations had put the last of Ludlow's gas stations out of business.

        Since then, many of the town's 4,700 residents have had to travel up to three miles to buy gas.

        Ludlow Mayor Tom Stacy, who had trumpeted the return of gas pumps as critical to the city's economic rebirth, was among the station's first customers.

        “I'm going to frame my receipt,” the mayor said, after his daughter, Jessica, 10, pumped $14 worth of premium gas into their Ford Crown Victoria.

        While the station's finishing touches — including a permanent sign and vacuum air tanks — are on back order, Mr. Little figures he'll soon have a regular customer base through word of mouth.

        If longtime Ludlow resident Grace Floyd is any indication, Mr. Little won't have to look far for customers.

        “I don't drive, but there are a lot of people around town who do,” the 74-year-old woman said, as she shopped at the nearby Family Dollar store. “The next time I ride with my daughter-in-law, I'm going to tell her to fill it up at our new gas station.”


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