Stories from the past: At Hagood’s Gulf station, you got a tank of BP and a social life

Station attendant Buck Lyles greets a customer at Hagood’s Gulf in 2004.

BLYTHEWOOD – A faded Coca-Cola sign featuring the words ‘Hagood’s Gulf’ sat high above Blythewood’s only full service gas station for 14 years after the station switched from Gulf to BP.

Like the sign, little changed during the 32 years John Hagood ran the station before selling it and retiring in 2004.

Hagood died in 2012, leaving the community with fond memories of a unique brand of service that superseded the draw of any brand of fuel.

Today, the station is owned by Blythewood Oil. It still sells BP and still offers full service, but many folks in Blythewood still, out of habit, refer to the station as ‘Hagood’s’ or “Hagood’s Gulf,’ even though the sign is no longer there.

That’s because Hagood’s station was one of the last of its kind …a service station where full service was the only service offered, where gas tanks were filled the way God intended them to be filled – by a service station attendant who knew customers by name, where customers didn’t drive away with gasoline splashed all over their shoes from wrestling the gas pump hose, and where female customers were treated with a special respect and given a yellow pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum with their change.

The station was built sometime around 1963, when Blythewood’s Main Street (Hwy 21) was a thoroughfare between Columbia and Charlotte.

Hagood’s father, Franklin Hagood, bought the station in 1972, and John Hagood worked there until his retirement.

When Interstate-77 was completed in the late 1970’s, Hwy 21 was mostly abandoned by everyone except for locals.

But Hagood’s Gulf survived. In fact, it thrived.

That’s because John Hagood, a quiet, focused businessman who at first appeared stern, had a caring, compassionate heart. He provided his customers with the kind of service that kept them coming back.

The late John Hagood in front of the gas station he ran for 32 years on Main Street in downtown Blythewood.

He cashed their checks, extended credit and sometimes quietly forgave that credit when a well-intended customer fell on hard times.

Hagood’s Gulf was a popular daily gathering place for locals. From 4-5 o’clock in the afternoon, the station was always packed with mostly guys who stopped by every day on their way home from work to visit, unwind and drink a Pepsi or cold beer. Sometimes their wives or kids accompanied them.

If the crowd of guys got noisy and a female customer walked in, a quick look from Hagood brought the room down to a respectful hush.

Hagood didn’t get rich off his gas station, but he gained something far more lasting than money – the trust and friendship of his many customers in the Blythewood community and beyond.

And so, on a cold, sunny day in February in 2012, many of those former customers gathered at his funeral at Sandy Level Baptist Church to honor John Hagood’s memory, his friendship and his 32 years of service to the Blythewood community.

This story first appeared in the March 1, 2012 issue of The Voice. 

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