Violet Ray Gas Station

The Violet Ray Gas Station was located where the Linda Apartments and traffic lights now stand. 

In 1928, Violet Ray anti-knock gasoline was introduced by 3,500 dealerships into the Pacific Coast states from San Diego to Canada. Carpinteria had one of the dealerships under the proprietorship of Federico Gonzalez at the intersection of 7th Street and the Coast Highway (Carpinteria Avenue).

Violet Ray gasoline was unique. Its name was derived from Violet Ray technology, popular at the time, and espoused by the sleeping clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce, who was a sensation of the era for his healing remedies. Note that the Violet Ray Gas Station sign has a futuristic look to it. The pumps had a clear top so the gas color would stand out. Ads for Violet Ray claimed that the pure violet color would change if it came into contact with an inferior grade of gasoline. How’s that for keeping customers coming back for more!

Violet Ray Gasoline Stations were advertised as full-service stations; that is, they’d check the oil, wash the windows, and check the air pressure in the tires. Mr. Gonzalez’ operation also had a mini mart and several cabins behind it—an auto court—for traveling motorists. The auto court had a mysterious, eerie quality, hidden from view. The circumferance was covered by tall, thick, green shrubs that formed a triangle. The way in was through an aperture in the back, off Reynolds Avenue. (Yes, that Reynolds Avenue which has its own exit on the southbound U. S. 101 Freeway—could it be the shortest avenue anywhere in the world?)

Violet Ray gasoline and Mr. Gonzalez disappeared quickly from the scene, but William and Mary Owens followed with a long run as proprietors. They rebranded the business as the Hoosier Auto Court. The Owens’ proprietorship roughly coincided with the opening of the relocated Aliso School (1935), directly across the street. Mr. Owens’ usual attire was that of a sea captain, making him a fascinating figure to the kids. He was well-liked by the Aliso children who frequented his mini mart.  

Searcy’s Auto Court replaced Owens in the late 1940s. This incarnation of the business was replaced in the 1950s by an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Baker. The business was called “the Gas Station,” “Baker’s Point” or “Baker’s Triangle” by then. The children who bought their ice cream, candy and sodas there, as well as seasonal toys like baseball cards and kites, have fond memories of the Bakers. They had a gentle and warm demeanor despite a countenance that suggested otherwise.

John and Vera Welty were the last proprietors of the gas station/mini mart/auto court, taking over in 1961. They kept the brand name Baker’s Triangle. The Welty family (including daughter Karen Welty Graf, like her father, a future Carpinterian of the Year) arrived from Ohio, just starting their still ongoing relationship in Carpinteria community affairs. But, for the business enterprise where 7th Street and Carpinteria Avenue come together, 1963 was the end of an era. The place was razed. The Linda Apartments would erase all trace of the stories and memories made at the old gas station across from Aliso School.

If you have a story or photo that tells a unique part of Carpinteria’s history, please contact Jim at drsjcampos@gmail.com. To learn more about Carpinteria’s unique and interesting past, visit the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 956 Maple Ave.

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