Casey Brothers Sinclair, a fixture of Johnson Drive in Mission for more than 50 years, is closing its doors.
The station was one of the few full-service gas stations still left, offering customers an experience reminiscent of a past era. The gas is already gone and Sinclair will start taking out the pumps and tanks next week. Casey Brothers will keep its auto repair business open until Aug. 1 and then close completely.
It’s been 56 years since Hersh and Ray Casey set up shop, running a gas station and auto repair on Johnson Drive. The brothers came to Mission from Arkansas in the early 1950s. Hersh was just 18 when he arrived. Ray is older by three years.
“What I’ll miss most is the people,” Hersh said this week as customers were still streaming in for repairs. “(Closing the station) is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
In 1954, Hersh says, he went to work for the Sinclair station where he is today. After five years, he and Ray took over a Texaco station on Johnson Drive. By 1962, the brothers were back down the street as new owners of the Sinclair.
As the decades rolled on, the brothers never dropped their full service for customers: pumping gas, washing windshields, checking tires and oil for the generations of customers that pulled into the station. They also offered full auto repair. Both brothers still come to the station every day, although Ray is down to part-time.
People have told him he should retire over the years, Hersh says, and do something he enjoys. “I’m already doing that” has been his reply. “It’s been a great living. I’m one of the few people in the country doing what they want to do.”
The end of the era was triggered by Sinclair. The brothers have leased the property from Sinclair all these years. When it came time for a mandatory replacement of the gas tanks, Sinclair decided it was getting out of the gas business in Mission and terminated the lease. Hersh says Sinclair offered to sell him the property, but he chose not to buy it.
The Casey name will remain on the corner, though. Ray’s son, Carl Casey, who worked at the station for years, and his wife Cathy are in the process of buying the building from Sinclair. They plan to open a second Casey auto repair shop later this year to complement the business they own a few blocks away on Beverly.