A visit to Gay Parita

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.”

7 thoughts on “A visit to Gay Parita

  1. ….and a Sinclair station to boot…my favorite brand! What a great era in family businesses, when you could start with repairs, and later add on gas and cabins.

    Not that it’s important, but any idea when the cabins were around?

    Also, for my education, was it so clear by ’55 that Interstate highways were going to ruin 66? Just curious why the station wasn’t rebuilt after the fire. Seems like, with a repair business and cabins, this was a flourishing little business.

  2. DynoDave, according to the maps I have, Route 66 bypassed the Paris Springs area in the 1960s. Therefore, I’m almost sure that the folks at the station knew that their alignment’s days were numbered.

    Then again, maybe the Gay Parita station simply wasn’t insured when it burned down. I noted that the original owner died five years after the fire, so he must have been ill or near retirement age.

  3. Ron I love Gary and his station. He is a must see! And he can almost out talk my sister Melba. I enjoyed the story on his station.
    Thanks for all you do.

    4 Women on the Route

  4. Was there last June and wanted to fill up with the 15 cent a gallon gasoline but Gary said he had just run out and the truck was on the way but he didn’t sound as though it would be coming in the near future and to come on in and we’d talk. I went in and we talked and talked and talked, will never forget the hospitality Gary showed us. Definitely one of the highlights of our Route 66 road trip. Looking forward to visiting him again.

  5. Although I made the Route 66 trip almost two years ago together with two friends, everything at the gas station is so present. Finally I am creating now 5 volumes of a photobbok from our tour and Gary and his gas station will get a place of honor in it. He probably cannot remember the 3 guys from Germany but I will send in the very near future some pictures, thanks God he gave me his address. Hope Gary is still doing well.

  6. Passed by on March 30th 2011 and was warmly greeted by Gary who made us very welcome and was a real pleasure to meet & talk to. He gave us a tour of the station and told us a few tales of R66. he also played us his latest R66 song and as he said ‘ You are the first English Guys to hear this ‘. Great place to vsit – allow your self plenty of time and make sure you get your photo taken with Gary.He then told us about Red Rock II which is a few miles up the road and definately worth a visit. Many thanks Gary had a great time – much appreciated

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