Friday, December 8, 2023

Living at the Standard Oil Service Station

Scott Coopwood recently attended a reunion of the friends he made as a boy at the Standard Oil service station

By Scott Coopwood, publisher of Delta Magazine and CEO of Coopwood Publishing

As many of you know, I grew up in the small town of Shelby. In my neighborhood, there were no children to play with. I had to ride my bicycle almost a mile to another neighborhood in order to play with my friends.

However, the Standard Oil Service Station was located next to my home in Shelby on the historic Hwy. 61. From about six years old to 11, I lived there every day, hanging out with some wonderful people who recently returned from locales throughout the county for a reunion.

I learned a lot about life from these guys –– a lot! One day, a guy named Bullet was there playing a guitar. That was the first time I had ever seen someone play a guitar. I was fascinated by this!

After that day, I was hooked on music and in later years, I picked up a guitar and learned how to play it.  However, Bullet opened the door on this and playing the guitar has been a huge part of my life.

All of these guys listened to the largest and most powerful black radio station in the South that came out of the Memphis, WDIA, and of course, through them, I listened to WDIA also. From that radio station, I heard all of the great soul and blues music of the time, and none of my white childhood friends knew one thing about this music. That music coming out of WDIA and those outstanding songs were instrumental in my music ear training.

Until this photo was taken at a recent funeral in Shelby, it had been 40 years since we were all together in one place, and I had not seen a couple of these guys in 20 years.

Left to right: George Baker, an architect living in Chicago; Harold Billings from Shelby, who is a blues club owner and Shelby Alderman; me; Mac McDonald from Shelby; Ed Sneed from Shelby; and Jerry Baker who works for the McDonald’s Corporation in Chicago. George, Ed, and Jerry, also drove me back and forth to elementary school in Cleveland for many years.

George and Jerry Baker’s sister, Lillie, helped raise me, and I have always considered her to be my real “mother”.

Some of the best memories of my childhood are the times I spent with this group and, I was thankful to reunite with these wonderful people after so many years.