Ah, the glories of internet search engines like Google and Yahoo! I received a remarkable e-mail today from Maria Avtgis, who actually lived at Coaldale. With her permission, I am reprinting part of her e-mail below:
Thank you for bringing a part of my past back to me.
My family and I lived at Coaldale for a short period of time when my children were young (about 15 years ago). We lived there when there was a much-needed operating gas station and a coffee shop with the best white clam chowder soup served by Mario, the cook. Mario was much like the other workers working the 'circuit'... He would work for a period of time, then vanish... only to return six months later, asking for a job.
Coaldale has a special place in my heart. I can recall strolling my baby, Stacey, around the front and calling out to my four-year old son not to ride his tricycle over the scorpions.
I can't remember why the owner, my father, left so much merchandise there. Shortly after the EPA claimed that the gas tanks were leaking and closed the gas station portion down, people no longer stopped in except for an occasional cup of coffee or to use the phone. Well, now you have my part of the story. No, there were no giant ants, only a couple of hard-working people trying to make an honest living.I can't express how grateful I am to Maria for her memories. When I visit ghost towns and similar sites, I am always wondering about the people who lived there and what their lives were like. Thanks to Maria, I now have an idea of what went on in Coaldale; I can visualize her son riding a tricycle toward some scorpions!
Maria's mention of the EPA cracking down on "leaking gas tanks" is why almost all gas stations today are owned by major oil companies instead of independent retailers. Guess who pushed the EPA to insist gas stations install new and expensive gas storage tanks to fight the non-existent problem of leaking storage tanks? That's right; companies like Chevron, Exxon, Mobile, etc. And when independent retailers couldn't afford those new storage tanks, they went out of business and were replaced by stations owned by Chevron, Exxon, Mobile, etc. And-----warning: this is a how damn stupid are you anyway?? question-----what do you think happened to the retail price of gas when those independent retailers were replaced by company-owned stations?
I never cease to be amazed by those, especially from the more leftish parts of the political spectrum, who think a company or industry is being "public spirited" or altruistic when it advocates more regulations for its business area. Bullcrap. They do so for one reason: to strangle competition and increase their oligopolistic advantage.
And, in the process, they sometimes kill towns like Coaldale.