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San Juan Bautista celebrates Luck Gas Station centennial

Rain forces venue change; difficulties installing plaque.
Attendees filled the Community Center for the centennial event. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Calendars and pamphlets were placed on tables for attendees. Photo by Noe Magaña.

The San Juan Bautista Historical Society didn’t let rain dampen its centennial celebration and plaque dedication of the Luck Gas Station on Feb. 2.

The station was built in 1919 by Carl Martin Luck nearly seven years after the first Ford Model T rolled off the line. It was converted into the Luck Museum in 2008, but served as a “fill-er-up” business into the 1930s, according to a 2017 BenitoLink article.

The museum now houses historical books, records and photographs. Visitors can also see a collection of artifacts, documents and tools by appointment.

The historical society hosted the centennial celebration at the San Juan Bautista Community Center, where over 100 people filled the room.

“We were really worried about the weather,” society president Wanda Guibert said. “We were initially going to be at the Luck Museum for the actual dedication of the plaque but we made a last minute decision to come [to the center].”

Members of the Native Sons of the Golden West led the ceremony. Formed in 1875, the organization, which proposed the commemorative plaque to celebrate the station, focuses on preserving the state’s history, according its website.

Attendees ate lunch while they checked out old articles from San Juan Mission News and other news outlets before the dedication ceremony.

Mounting the plaque on the stone located outside the Luck Museum proved to be difficult.

Guibert said she was not present when the group attempted to install the plaque Jan. 31 prior to the celebration, so she wasn’t sure if it was an issue with the drill bits or that the stone was too cold to drill on.

“We’ll get it done,” Guibert said.

As for Carl Martin Luck, Guibert praised his timing and sense of vision.

“It was really the beginning of auto travel and I guess he had foresight to build the station,” Guibert said.

She recalled a historical society meeting where the “long timers” counted about 12 gas stations on Third Street, formerly El Camino Real.

“Kind of like today, we have gas stations in every corner, they did then too,” Guibert said.  



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Noe Magaña's picture
Noe Magaña (Noe Magaña)

Noe Magaña is a freelance writer for BenitoLink. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School graduate with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.

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