Oil in his veins | Doctor remembers his early years working in the automotive industry



Dr. Tim O’Kelley got into a vehicle and took part in the recent Steve Smith Memorial Cruise-In on June 11 in Atlanta. It was his first participation in the event.

He had a special reason, and not just the fact that he had recently acquired and remodeled a 1932 four-cylinder Ford with his parents’ name and their gas station on its doors.

“I did it because it shows that I had oil and fat in my blood and that I did a lot of work there in Bloomburg when I was young,” Dr O ‘said. Kelley, now a family doctor in Atlanta.

His parents were Edward and Laura Jean Harrist O’Kelley, who for a time operated a Gulf gas station on the west corner of Main Street, next to the large red brick building that would be the Arklatex cinema. It would also be the post office, too, for a while.

An interesting note is that to accompany the Gulf gas station in Bloomburg there was once a Gulf Hotel which was built in 1895 by TJ Grogan.

At other times in his life, the Gulf Service Station was known as Puckett’s Store.

The 1932 Ford was popular especially with young people as a hot-rod with a V-8 engine. It would be lowered, painted and polished just to roam the streets before WWII.

“I found this one at a real estate sale in Rome, New York,” said Dr. O’Kelley.

For the person familiar with Bloomburg, there is a little more to this story. These are the city’s Gulf and Texaco gas stations. It involved the parents and owners of these stores and each of their sons.

On the east side of Bloomburg’s business district was Harlan Haynes Grocery and Service Station. Texaco station, it was appreciated by young and old. The Gulf Service Station, on its west side, was also popular.

One way or another, gas stations and their families produced a doctor. Harlan and Evelyn Haynes’ son John Harlan Haynes Jr., born in 1937, became a family physician. He just died.

Edward and Laura O’Kelley’s son was, of course, Timothy, who was younger than John Haynes, but also became a family doctor.

The O’Kelley gas station of the past was once that white, wooden corner building at the time. Concrete blocks were used to rebuild after a fire. The red brick building was once the Arklatex cinema and also the city’s post office.

It looks like the two boys learned something from medicine during their hot, greasy and rough working days at rival gas stations.

There was another company with Gulf in its business name. It was the Gulf Hotel which was built in 1895 by TJ Grogan.

Some Texaco signage also still exists in the Haynes Grocery building. The Gulf name is gone, however, except now on Dr Tim’s sleek 1932 Ford.


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