Station preservation

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

Off the Water photo/JOHN EBY Roger Pecina recreated this long-dormant filling station. With glass overhead doors and windows along the back, it affords a scenic view of Stone Lake — especially for Dino on the roof.

CASSOPOLIS — Dr. Roger Pecina nails details in recreating a Sinclair gas station where there never was one on the bluff overlooking Stone Lake.

His pursuit of authenticity has consumed three years.

Pecina remembers old-fashioned service stations of the 1950s and ’60s already lost to Americana.

“I loved gas stations growing up” in Michigan City, Ind., “and I spent so much time there. It was a big part of my life, mowing the grass for a buck and a half, pumping gas, washing windshields, doing oil changes and busting your knuckles on the tire machine. I always thought it would be cool to have my own gas station.

“There are two, three generations now who have no idea what a gas station is. It’s gone. Now, it’s a convenience store.

“I’ve got kids in their 20s and 30s, and they’ve got no clue things like this ever were. By restoring it and letting people see it, not only does it nurture memories of people my age, but it allows other generations to see a piece of history, like any other museum.”

Sinclair, with its trademark green dinosaur Dino on all kinds of products, from road maps and calendars to paint and inspect spray, is particularly popular with collectors.

Pecina, a dentist who built 90-employee Afdent clinics, allowed only two reproduction pieces inside the DX station vacant for 30 years — a Roger’s Garage sign “since 1952,” the year he was born, and a personalized can. Relics include a radio to listen to baseball and a Life magazine with Dr. Martin Luther King on the cover.