Mon, March 30

Clarkdale Classic Station gets national <br>recognition thanks to Valley auto buff

History and people have a funny way of crossing paths sometimes.

Take for instance the Clarkdale Classic Station owned by Michael and Liz Hensley.

In 1938, an industrial architect named Walter Teague (1883-1960) designed about 500 Texaco gas stations, four of which utilized copper sheeting from Arizona smelting mines. Now, the Classic Station endures as the only copper-clad gasoline establishment in continuous operation since 1938.

Hensley, an automobile mechanic for 30 years, purchased this station in 1989. He keeps the good ol’ full service policy intact by pumping gas, checking the oil, wiper blades and washing the windshields of customers.

"It’s a full service station and always has been," said Hensley. "For good service, we don’t charge extra."

Hensley recently wrote and presented a grant to the Arizona State Parks Department of Historical Preservations with the hope of receiving the funding necessary for the restoration of the original copper clad sheeting implemented in his building. Hensly expects a response around March. The Classic Station remains as one of the town’s historic buildings.

Coincidentally, Clarkdale resident Bill Fobair’s vintage automobile, along with the station, graced the cover of the December 2000 issue of Check the Oil magazine in a feature regaling Hensley’s place.

Prior to that magazine publication, an acquaintance of Fobair asked for a photo of his Zephyr parked in front of the station for publication in the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club newsletter.

He currently owns the 1941 Lincoln Zephyr – an ebony dream car boasting a rare V-12 aluminum block 192 engine. In addition, this three-window coupe offers gold-plated hardware, dual trumpet horns, custom broadcloth wool interior and a wood grain mahogany dashboard. It’s fully loaded with a hot water heater, clock, floating oil gauge and a radio control switch located on the floorboard allowing the driver to literally tap through five stations without removing his or her hands from the steering wheel.

Fobair found the Zephyr covered by a parachute in a Nebraska brickyard in 1976. He purchased the auto for $670 after determining that this find fared "a little better than most."

Naturally, the car enthusiast decided on a complete, authentic restoration of the Zephyr.

During the summer of 1995 his car won best of show in a touring circuit that spanned 9,000 miles.

When the editor of Check the Oil contacted Fobair requesting information about Clarkdale’s historic station, Fobair located Linda Anderson-McDonough, who helped supply the necessary information for the article.

"I’m honored and proud," said McDonough, Clarkdale citizen and former employee of the Heritage Conservancy Board.

To this day, McDonough receives phone calls from people requesting the answers to the puzzles of historical buildings within the town.

"I have the tenacity to go through the process of finding the information," she said. Like detective work, many times information must be found in journals, papers, receipts, old calendars and old photographs with the names of businesses in the background, she explained. "Sometimes you run into a dead end…it’s very exciting."

A resident since 1978, McDonough feels she’s honoring the citizens of Clarkdale by providing research and the answers to those sometimes difficult questions.

"When I first moved here… a lot of the old timers were still here. They are wonderful, generous, gracious people and they worked very hard to keep this little town alive…. I do it to honor them."

McDonough explained that Phelps Dodge purchased the United Verde Copper Company during the Depression. The company had a "tremendous amount of copper," she said. Many times, the excess copper became part of the town, and the Classic Station proves a historical example.

"Not many people get a picture taken of themselves and something they’re interested in doing," said Fobair. "He [Hensley] deserved a little credit and recognition."

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