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Coupeville's Prairie Center removes pumps

By JUSTIN BURNETT Whidbey Examiner Staff
January 20, 2013 · Updated 1:00 PM
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Joe Black, of Concrete Northwest, fills empty fuel tanks at Prairie Center Red Apple in Coupeville. The store sold fuel to Central Whidbey motorists for at least 65 years, but had to quit last fall. / Justin Burnett photo

All things must eventually come to an end and this week it was Prairie Center Red Apple’s old gas pumps.

That chapter in the town’s history was literally sealed Tuesday with a blurp and gurgle as workers topped off the store’s three underground gas tanks with concrete.

“We just couldn’t be competitive,” said Ken Hofkamp, the store’s owner for the past 40 years.

The pumps, which have also been removed, were actually shut down this past fall, pumping their last drop of gas sometime around September, Hofkamp said. They will make way for additional parking, he said.

Hofkamp couldn’t be sure how long the store had been providing Central Whidbey motorists with fuel, but said they were there when he bought the store years ago from the late Herb Pickard.

Daughter Jan Pickard didn’t know how long they’d been there either but confirmed that she couldn’t remember a time without them. She has many memories of pumping gas at her dad’s store during the 1950s.

“I consider myself to be the first female gas jockey,” she laughed.

According to Long-time Coupeville farmer Al Sherman, they have been there, at the very least, since Herb took over the store for his father, Moe Pickard, in the mid-1940s but likely were there even long than that.

Hofkamp said he’s replaced the stores underground tanks twice. One worker estimated that it took about 15,000 gallons of concrete to fill all three tanks.

Work should be finished this week.

 


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