Thursday, April 11, 2013

After 57 Years, a New Start.

  Jody Dudley, 2013

(Click on images to see larger)

Believe me, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about a service station. But here it is.

I refrain from saying this is about a “gas station” or a "filling station" because although both of those terms would have applied at one time, the fuel tanks were removed some years ago.

The Cavalier Garage was built in the late 1920s as a service to the customers of the Cavalier Hotel, a Virginia Beach grand dame of a hotel on whose campus the building sits. At one time, the garage building housed not only a gas station and mechanical shop on the first floor, but also rooms on a second floor for the maids and chauffeurs of hotel guests. Maids? Chauffeurs? Yes, in its day, visiting the Cavalier Hotel was more like visiting an English country house than today's concept of a beachfront motel. One doesn't get the impression it was the kind of place where guests moseyed  back up the hill to their rooms with sand between their toes.

In 1956, a young mechanic by the name of Johnny Dudley took over the operation of the Garage. By then, people were driving their own cars and the Garage was building a healthy trade catering to the well-to-do residential neighborhoods that were growing around the hotel. In time, Johnny’s son Jody took over the business.

The Cavalier Garage was built on customer service. If you dropped off your car for service or repair, they’d have someone drive you home and then go back and pick you up when your car was ready. Such attentive service made for many loyal customers.

The Cavalier Hotel and all of its property, including the Garage, is now for sale. After fifty-seven years of service, Jody and his staff received little more than a month’s notice to vacate the Garage. He’s been fortunate to find another location in a more distant part of town. The name will go on. The phone number's unchanged. The new place is big enough that Jody will be able to keep his entire staff.

The departure of the Cavalier Garage from its site on Holly Road won’t destroy the neighborhood. But for many it’s just another sign of the end of simpler times when grocery stores made deliveries and gas stations and other day-to-day businesses were indelible parts of neighborhoods. 

The big sign over the front door of the Cavalier Garage that says “Thank You. 1956 – 2013” says it all.

“I’d hoped we’d make it to sixty years here,” says Jody. “But I guess that’s not going to happen.”

In the Shadow of The Cavalier, 2013


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.