Simmons Exxon Closes Its Doors After 64 Years In Business
MONROE, LA (AP) — Simmons Exxon and Hitch Center on Louisville Avenue, less than two blocks from the bridge across the Ouachita River, closed its doors on July 31 after 64 years of serving the public.
On Jan. 6, 1951, Reubin Simmons purchased the station from a man he only remembers as Mr. Russell.
"I borrowed $2,500 and thought it would never get paid back," Simmons recalled recently.
Simmons had no experience working with automobiles.
"I knew how to put gas in a car and that was it. I had to teach myself to do everything," he said.
In those days the station was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Simmons said he worked for 18 months without a day off.
Since it was open 24 hours, early in the mornings The News-Star papers would be dropped off there and the paper boys would come roll them before setting off on their bike routes.
In 1955, Simmons added U-Haul equipment to the business and in 2015 was recognized by U-Haul for 60 years as a dealer.
In those early years, Simmons also rented two-seater bicycles for 50 cents a day.
It was in 1982 that Simmons' daughter Donna Jones and her husband Freddie took over the business. Simmons retired and "did a lot of fishing and mowing the yard."
Now, after 33 years, the Joneses decided it was time for them to retire, too.
"I thought they were both crazy to quit good jobs," Simmons said.
His daughter was director of medical lab and his son-in-law was in sales.
"We just wanted to do something different and be our own boss," Freddie Jones said.
The family agreed that they've had wonderful customers over the years and made many friends.
"(We'll miss) the people. We made a lot of good friends over the last 33 years," Freddie Jones said.
They have also had a lot of good employees, some working 20, 25, 30 years or more.
"They've retired now," Freddie Jones said.
The two current employees already have other jobs, and all that will be left for the family to do is liquidate the inventory.
What will the Joneses do in retirement? The wall covered with photos of their grandchildren is a big hint.
"Yes, we will be spending a lot of time with our grandchildren," Donna Jones said.
Simmons said one thing he will miss is getting his gas at the station – after all, he's been buying it there since the '50s.
"I remember selling it for 26 cents a gallon," he said.
– by AP/ Reporter Hope Young with The News-Star