Horton’s Esso Garage was at a rounding corner just as one would cross the boundary from Hillside into Trenton, Nova Scotia. If you were coming up through Pictou Landing you would be making a very smooth right turn while cruising around that corner. When Trenton had more fuel stations this was one of the most popular. For some it was the closest gas station to their homes.
I can remember vividly sitting in the back seat of my Dad’s old Ford Maverick when he used to pull into this station. His well rehearsed customer demand sang the same timbre every time I heard it. “5 of the Regular”, Dad would call out, easily in command of the situation as he shuffled a bill in his hand. The guys who ran the station were old familiar hats. These were guys who knew their way around a car but probably could never find their way around their kitchens. The old style gas pumps were fun to watch. The dial of the numbers acted as some banker that was gradually draining your wallet. 5 bucks worth of regular used to get a person to almost the half a tank mark on the car’s always unsteady gas gauge.
The Hillside Esso was around long enough for my brother to stop in and ask for $5 of the regular. One time they did not hear him correctly and filled the gas tank. Despite my brother’s protests, he ended up paying the full amount which was somewhere in the low 20’s. By this time, the station was owned by a guy named Sid. Long going were the days of $5 bucks of fuel to be put into their car. My Dad’s Maverick, which was really similar in size to a lime green Lobster boat, was also long gone.
When this garage closed, Sid ended up taking over some other station off the highway. I don’t recall if he still owns that particular garage, but it is still located off an in-between section of the old highway, near a new highway. This new garage still gets business from nearby Greenhill and Alma residents.
Meanwhile, the building where Hillside Esso once stood is no more. What appears now is an empty lot with grass and gravel reminding customers that the place was once home to fuel tanks buried under the rocky Hillside soil. Trenton no longer has any fuel stations, with the last one closing in the 2000’s. Most residents of Hillside and Trenton now travel into New Glasgow or Blue Acres for fuel.
In the age of elevated commodity prices, anyone asking for $5 of the regular today are just filling up a small jerry can for their lawn mowers.