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Service station is a Paint Lick landmark

August 25, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

When you walk up to Paint Lick Chevron you can't help but notice the green bench next to the door. Then once inside the store, you notice the oval table and chairs directly in front of the cash register. These are practically historical artifacts, seats that have been around for generations and places where many stories have been told.

"The locals are thrilled it's open again," says Laura Bergman, who bought the store/service station/hardware store in May. "It's the heartbeat to the community."

The store, the only of its kind in the tiny community that straddles the Garrard/Madison county line, was started by Lucien Starnes in 1947. Since his death the business has gone through several owners and according to Bergman and her husband, Keith, the business fell into their laps. The two were visiting their son, Justin, who was working at the store under the former owner. That owner wanted to sell it to Justin.

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"We showed up 20 minutes later and it came our way," said Laura Bergman. "We've gotten ahold of a legacy."

She calls the store a community asset and when the store was closed for a while she said it made the Paint Lick area "die." Speaking of the bench outside, she said, "there's a great group of guys who like to sit on the bench. They've been doing it since they were young boys." Some of those include "Junior" Denny or "Boxhead" Bill Smith, who have been know to sit outside on the bench for hours at a time.

"They come with sun," said Keith Bergman. "That bench has been there since there's been a building."

Laura said she's been told several good stories by the store's regulars. "Not all are true," Keith adds with a grin.

Store has had several different names

The store has gone through several different names over the years, often the owner's name followed by "Chevron," such as Saylor Chevron, or Harold Brothers Chevron. The Bergmans say they call it Paint Lick Chevron because it's the community's store.

"We're just here to mind it," they said. "All we do is pay the mortgage."

Paint Lick Chevron is the area's "one stop shop." The store offers regular and diesel fuel, a full -ime mechanic in the Bergman's son, Justin, and a hardware store out back. Speaking of Justin, Laura Bergman says he "fixes everything." Inside the store there's a plentiful helping of snacks, pop, and sandwiches made to order. Darryl Cane repairs small engines in a separate garage in the rear of the store. And you can't help but notice the Kelvinator "Royal Crown Cola " cooler next to the more modern drink cooler and refrigerator. The Bergmans believe it has been there since the 1940's.

Justin Bergman said he performs a full line of mechanic's work along with welding and tractor tire service. He said towing service is available and that he can get "any part." "I have five to six years experience working on cars," he said. Asked what he likes about his job, he said "just helping others out." Asked what he doesn't like, he said "the heat."

The store is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Bergman said her daughter "spells me on the evenings. And I get Thursdays off. Justin works all the time."

Bergman said she and Keith are laying the foundation to pass the business on to their son. "We're building it for him (Justin). So he can buy it from us," she said.

Bergman says her average customers are farmers, as the store does not get much "pass-by traffic."

She said most of them have been here for generations and many won't even think of leaving.

"Nobody seems to leave this community," she said.

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