At 79, Carl Jackson still descends into a grease pit to change the oil for customers at his full-service station in Rock Hill. For 65 years, he hasn’t just collected money for gas – he has pumped the gas himself.
At Jackson’s at the corner of Anderson Road and East Main Street, full-service means full-service.
But crime has descended even lower than Jackson as he heads down the seven steps of the station’s grease pit. On Friday night, Jackson was robbed of a week’s receipts.
The crime happened down the street from the station at Jackson’s home, after he had closed up shop as he does six days a week, every week of the year.
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Jackson told police he went to get something to eat, came home, and three men robbed him in the dark with a weapon that could have been a knife or a gun. Jackson was told to drop the money he was carrying.
Jackson, who has worked his whole life with hands that are now gnarled and cracked, said what tough old men say to criminals who want to steal his money: “No.”
Then one of the cowards pushed Jackson down, and the three fled with two bank bags containing more than $2,000 in cash and checks – money Jackson had spent a week earning, on his feet, at the place where he has been helping people since Harry S. Truman was president.
Jackson’s nose was cut, but he was able to crawl toward his home. He then called his son, who called police.
“I just thank God above they didn’t do more damage,” Jackson said Monday.
It’s “no use” getting mad about the robbery, he said, but he sure would like the case solved. His family is upset.
Jackson has worked at the station – which his father, Herbert “Big Jack” Jackson, opened after World War II – since he was 14. The past 54 years, Carl Jackson has run the shop.
“My uncle has helped people at this station, been good to people, his whole life,” said niece Dwana Jackson. “Whoever did this, I am sure their parents, or their grandparents, came here and Uncle Carl took care of them. He probably gave them gas when they didn’t have money or gave credit.
“We are just glad it wasn’t worse. Bruises heal. Cuts heal. Those kids could have hurt him. They could have shot him.”
Detectives have not made any arrests, according to a spokesman with the York County Sheriff’s Office.
Along with Workman’s service station just south of downtown Rock Hill, where a customer can get gas pumped by an attendant, and Killian’s in Clover, Jackson’s is the last of the full-service stations.
The pumps still register gallons and dollars on rolling tumblers – no electronic displays here. Even with full-service, gas doesn’t cost any more at Jackson’s than it does anywhere else.
And if a little old lady needs her oil checked, Jackson checks the oil and then thanks the lady for her business.
If another little old lady needs her oil changed, Jackson changes it.
He wipes windshields and smiles and tells people, “Thank you, and come back” – and he means it.
Jackson works in the heat of summers and the sleet of winters.
“He is out here in the rain, in the cold, and he is nice to people,” Dwana Jackson said.
He has no plans to retire. It has been years since he took a vacation.
Even crime cannot stop Carl Jackson.
Jackson might be a little more wary, a little more suspect. But on Monday morning – just like he was Saturday morning, just hours after the robbery – Carl Jackson was back at work.