Princeton, as any self-respecting town does in this day and age, has its share of what we call convenience stores. Those stores include gas stations, stations that have all kinds of other items for sale, including in freezers that usually dominate a wall. There are shelves of grocery items that many years ago you could get only at grocery stores. There are pastries, sandwiches with condiments nearby, fountains where you fill your own drink cups,  soup you can ladle into containers, ATMs — you name it, the list goes on and on.

What we don't have anymore, and haven't for many years now, are full-service gas stations. You know, the ones where you sat in your car as an attendant pumped your gas and meanwhile washed your windows, and then checked your oil if you made a request.

Twenty-five years ago when Park Alignment made a business decision to discontinue selling gas we were left with only one station in town that had "full service." I remember one local resident asking the question, "Where are little old ladies going to go now? They only have one place left where they pump gas." It wasn't a sexist comment, just a real concern because that generation of customers had grown up without having to pump gas and some deemed women incapable of pumping gas.

Depending which old-timer you talked to, there was a time where there were about 15 gas stations in Princeton through the years and they all had attendants who pumped your gas. You had to tell the attendant whether you wanted regular or ethyl (no unleaded determinations back then) and then he would take over from there.

The next thing you knew he was washing your windows and inquiring if you wanted your oil checked. And if a tire was low, you could ask to have it inflated to the proper level. An extra-special touch for some of those guys was to wipe off your headlights and taillights, that act sometimes leading to a tip.

There was an occasion once when I wanted to make a hurry-up 600-mile trip from Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Princeton. So I determined that I wouldn't get out of my beat-up old Ford on the way. I pulled into a full-service gas station (we didn't call it such a thing, true, because it was the norm) in Nebraska, got my gas pumped and asked the attendant if he would bring a Coke and a candy bar out with him when he brought my change. I managed to make that trip in record time.

Once when I was rolling across the flat farmland of Iowa on a trip from Ft. Riley I had a flat tire. Since having a spare tire wasn't in the budget at that time, I rolled that tire down the shoulder of the road in the dead of night and stopped at the first gas station I came upon about a mile-and-a-half from my car.

The attendant, between pumping gas, washing windows and other chores, cheerfully patched my balding tire for $2, trustingly told another motorist he'd be right back, and hauled me and my tire to the pitch-dark spot on the road where I'd had the flat. He helped me put it back on and sped off into the night, saying he remembered what it was like to be a young GI far from home with little money.

I don't remember when this self-serve craze began. I do remember the worry by some older people about how the heck females were ever going how to learn to pump gas. Those fears were unfounded but you've got to remember it was the Dark Ages (50 to 60 years ago) when this happened.

I think the inconvenience of it all — having to pump your own gas, wash your own windows (no buttons to push to set your wipers in motion back then), etc. — was what bothered people the most when the self-service thing started.

George Freichels at Freichels' Super Valu in Princeton was adamant about keeping on with the tradition of carrying customers' groceries to the car. And, wonder of wonders, he also had an employee who made home deliveries without a charge. Those were the kinds of personal touches that kept customers coming back, as well as enticing new ones.

With the disappearance of full-service stations we entered an era in which nearly everything was automated. I drove into a station in the South in the 1990s and spent a couple minutes figuring out how to run the bank of gas pumps that defiantly, it seemed, dared me to try to figure out what to do. I finally completed my transaction and triumphantly jumped back in the car with my credit card receipt. I hadn't even gone into the store, my gas tank was full and I was headed back to the freeway for about 300 miles before I had to encounter such a gadget again.

Now many stations demand that you pay before you pump, either by going into the store or sliding your card into a slot on the pump before you fill up. There might be three or four grades of gas and you have to make sure to get the right one. If you go into the store you might stand in line behind someone collecting their lottery or scratch-off winnings, or getting that piece of pizza and  a soda that passes as breakfast for some.

We're well past the time of lamenting the passing of the full-service era, which included some wondering where the little old ladies would get their gas tanks filled. When Park Alignment stopped selling gas that left only the Cenex station in town where you could pull up, roll the window down and say, "Fill it up, Duane. And while you're at it, can you check the oil?"

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end.

Twins are way, way behind the eight ball

It's the morning of Thursday, June 3, and the Minnesota Twins have fallen back to last place in the Central Division after losing two of three games in Baltimore, a team that had lost 14 in a row before winning the last two games of a three-game series. On Memorial Day I predicted to a friend that the Twins would lose two of three in Baltimore to the 19-37 Birds, simply because their starting pitching is better than their record. The friend thought I was, to put it mildly, off the mark.  He, like many, assumed the Twins would make hay against Baltimore and Kansas City. It didn't happen, even after a recent hot streak by the Twins.

The Twins' record today is 22-33 (.400) a day after one-third of the season had been completed. If the Twins are to reach 90 wins (a reasonable number of games to qualify for the playoffs) they will have to go 68-39 (.636) the rest of the way. The final nail in the coffin (OK, there is still a very slim chance and it would be the story of the MLB season) might have come on a three-run homer off reliever Alexander Colombe (2-4 record, 5.31 ERA) in the seventh inning that made the score 6-1 in a 6-3 win for the Orioles last night. Minnesota was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

True, injuries are a problem, even moreso now with five Opening Day starters out as a series begins today in Kansas City (11-6 after an 11-game losing streak). But the problems are deeper than that for the Twins, even though they won an extra-inning game on Monday for only the second time in 10 such games this season. Two former Gold Glovers (Josh Donaldson and Andrelton Simmons) are tied for the team lead in errors, and Donaldson is 0-for-12 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season. Nelson Cruz, who has had two great years for the Twins and started hot this year with a .329 average in April that included 7 home runs and 19 RBIs, hit .221 in May and drove in only 6 runs. I may be in error but it seems, at least lately, that fastballs are getting by him more than previously. And Miguel Sano, who had a nice streak earlier in May with 6 home runs in 9 games, and 13 RBIs, is now 2-for-27 in his last 8 games, with 15 strikeouts, although he did hit a three-run homer last Monday that won a game.

It's true the Twins have guys playing out of position, and/or rookies in the lineup, partly because of injuries. One, outfielder Gilberto Celestino, was going to be moved from AA ball to the Twins' AAA team in St. Paul but skipped that move to St. Paul and came straight to the Twins Wednesday because of injuries. He made his debut as the team's sixth center fielder Wednesday. Rookies Alex Kirilloff (.242) and Trevor Larnach (.238) are playing nearly every day in the outfield and, while showing some promise, have struggled a bit, although Kirilloff leads the major leagues with a .500 average with runners on base and a .455 average with runners in scoring position. That's impressive and he appears to be the real deal. 

             

If you are into what-ifs, what if the Twins had kept veteran lefty Rich Hill, named American League Pitcher of the Month with an ERA of 0.78 for the Rays while pitching 34 2/3 innings in six starts during May? Or kept reliever Trevor May who is doing well with the Mets? Or had Eduardo Escobar instead of Josh Donaldson at third base, Escobar with 39 RBIs that at last report is leading the National League? Donaldson has been a huge bust so far in the second year of a four-year contract that right now looks like a big mistake. The Twins got three so-called prospects when they traded Escobar to Arizona in 2018  and none have made it to the major leagues.

The list of non-performances is long, such as scoring only four runs in the 36 ninth innings in which they have batted this season. That's hard to believe but it's a fact. Can the Twins get back in the race? It looked like it about 10 days ago but now they're farther back at 11 games behind Chicago than the 8 they had it down to - and there are three other teams they have to climb past.  It doesn't look doable, especially with the kind of pitching they're getting from starters other than Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda. They need a great month of June, a month in which they're already 0-2.

Standings update, June 4: The Twins lost 6-5 Thursday night, the deciding run by the Royals coming on a two-error play, and Chicago won its game. That leaves the Twins 12 games behind the division-leading White Sox and now the Twins are 0-3 in June.

PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

June 14, 1951 - Santiago pitcher Larry Hanson hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning as Santiago beat Princeton 5-3 in town team baseball.

June 16, 1961 - Frank Fischer, PHS football coach who later coached at Edina, was running the summer baseball program that allowed anyone from ages 8 to 17 to participate.

June 9, 1966 - Rollie Benson was the winning pitcher in a 4-3 win for the Princeton town team over Clear Lake. Roy Valentini drove in the winning run.

June 16 1971 - Ron Deglmann hit a grand-slam homer off former PHS teammate Bob Soule as Princeton beat Santiago in town team baseball, 16-1. Jerry Bergeron had four hits and Luther Dorr was the winning pitcher.

June 16, 1976 -Dave Mingo struck out 10 in six innings and Dan Kne whiffed eight in three innings in a 7-0 town team win over Milaca. Doug Patnode and Buzz Johnson each drove in two runs.

June 10, 1981 - Les Nelson pitched a no-hitter and struck out 10 in a five-inning 11-1 win over Long Prairie in Legion baseball. Nelson had been named to the state high school all-star series . . . Doug Burns, passing seven runners in the last lap of the 3200-meter run, was seventh in that race at the state track meet and ninth in the 1600

June 12, 1986 - With a jump of 21' 3 1/4", Ward Thompson placed fifth in the long jump at the state track meet . . . Mike Sternquist threw a three-hit 6-0 shutout over Mora in Legion baseball, striking out 10 and walking three.

June 13, 1991 - Princeton won one of three games at the state softball tournament, beating Rochester John Marshall, Leslie Werner hitting a three-run triple in the win . . . Jill Carling, Rachel Brown, Janelle Gerth and Corrine Lundell were chosen all-conference in softball.

June 13, 1996 - Lu Schwochert tied for 17th in the state Class AA golf tournament with 177 (86-91) . . . Chad Carling, Justin Priess, Mark Stay and Jesse Zimmer were all-conference in baseball . . . Phil Holinka of Princeton had a hole in one on No. 8 at Princeton.

June 7, 2001 - Matt Anderson, with a jump of 6'4", finished second in the high jump at the Section 7AA meet and qualified for state . . . The Princeton Panthers scored 69 runs in four games, scoring 60 runs on 52 hits in only 16 innings of batting in a weekend sweep of three games. Jesse Zimmer drove in six runs in an 18-6 win over St. Joseph, and then the Panthers beat Forest Lake 24-0, with a 16-run second inning, as Brian Julson and Brian Dorr each drove in five runs.

June 8, 2006 - The Princeton Panthers went 2-1 at a tournament in Perham, beating Ada 14-3 and Frazee 16-2 with 36 hits in those two games after losing 6-2 to Perham. Jesse Zimmer drove in eight runs in the three games . . . Dylan King placed fourth in the 3200-meter run at the section track meet and was sixth in the 1600.

June 9, 2011 -  Isaiah Mayerchak advanced to the state tennis tournament, beating Toby Boyer of Forest Lake in a three-hour match . . . Dylan Hass advanced to the state track meet in three events, winning the 300 hurdles and high jump, and placing second in the 110 hurdles. He set a school record in the 110 hurdles . . . Kadie Savage also advanced to the state meet by placing second in the 300 hurdles, breaking her school record along the way. 

June 9, 2016 - Larkin Walter earned a return trip to the state track meet by winning the 100-meter hurdles at the section meet in Grand Rapids . . . The PHS baseball team (10-14) stayed alive in section baseball, beating Cloquet 9-2, losing 9-2 to Hibbing and beating No. 1 seed Chisago Lakes, 12-11. Sam Larson got the win over Cloquet. Drew Scharber hadpitched a 7-5 win over Zimmerman in the first section game.

(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has written about sports in the area for the past 54 years.)

 

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