We travel the old alignment of Route 66 in west of Springfield, Mo., at least once a year. That stretch of the Mother Road is a joy to drive, but many of the old gas stations have fallen into ruin.
But just a mile or so west of the spot where Missouri Highway 96 forks to the left and Route 66 continues straight is a re-creation of a historic gas station that disappeared decades ago. It is the Gay Parita station, which sits in the hamlet of Paris Springs.
Gay Parita is a re-creation of a gas station once owned by Gay and Fred Mason. It was built in 1930, and was destroyed by fire in 1955.
But Gary Turner, a Route 66 buff, decided to revive it in the past year or so. At first glance you’d think it’d been there for generations. It includes the old Mae West-style gas pumps.
Turner (here sitting with Emily Priddy) is more than happy to show a Route 66 traveler around if he’s there. He’ll regale you with stories about the station — both past and present — and might offer you a cold can of orange pop. Turner is as much of a Mother Road attraction as his station is.
The interior of the station is crammed with memorabilia, too.
Gay Parita isn’t entirely a re-creation. The separate garage, where auto repairs were made, was built in 1926 and still stands. Parked in it is a 1948 pickup truck.
The garage contains more gas-station memorabilia, including the pay window.
The “Cabins” sign is an original, too. The guest cabins at Gay Parita are long gone.
And this gasoline truck parked between the garage and station sure isn’t a re-creation, either.
The day we stopped on the sparsely traveled road, we heard soft 1950s music coming from the station, and cottonwood seeds floated in the wind. Turner and his wife were sitting in outdoor chairs next to the station, contentedly watching the world go by as the sun started to set.
I thought to myself: “That’s not a bad way to live, right there.”