Wilson provides rare services
Published 5:03 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2005
By By LYDIA GRIMES-Features writer
Midtown Services Station doesn't have a lot of fancy lights and a lot of gas pumps, but it does have what its name implies-service.
James Aubrey Wilson, the owner of Midtown, has a motto that tells it all.
Although the service station has been in business for many years, Wilson has only been the owner since 1997 when he bought the place from Willie Southwell. He knew then that his business would consist of regular repeat customers. He welcomes those who drive by and stop once in a while, but he caters to those who have been coming in for years.
Midtown is the only full-service gas station in Brewton and, in fact, it is the only one in Escambia County. There was a full-service station in Flomaton, but with its closing Midtown is the only place you can stop, get someone to pump your gas, buy a pack of gum, get your tires checked and get your windshield washed.
Once upon a time, gas stations were all like Midtown. All a customer had to do was to drive into the station. An employee would pump the gas and wash the windshield while the gas was pumping. After the gas was pumped, the customer paid for the service right out the window and maybe was even given a drinking glass, dinner plate or a coupon as a "thank you." Many customers would drive up and buy a couple of dollars worth of gas and they received the same service.
Of course that was when a couple of dollars would buy four or five gallons of gas. And there were no waiting lines in the hope of having the good luck to be able to buy any gas at all.
Wilson grew up near Brewton and attended North Brewton School for nine years. He then went to high school in Castleberry because of the basketball program.
He didn't get the chance to use that scholarship for very long. He had just started to college when his number came up in the military draft.
Wilson came home to the states, met his wife, Annette Morgan, and they were married in 1973. He was assigned to a base in Montana and stayed there until he got out of the Air Force in 1994. The couple came back to Brewton where she went to work at V.J. Elmore and he attended Ed Reid Technical College.
Over the next few years he worked in maintenance at First Baptist Church of Brewton, B and W Auto Parts, and with Big 4 Mobile homes setting up mobile homes for FEMA after Hurricane Frederick. When he bought into Midtown, he had a lot of things going, logging, a tire shop and a farm. He and John Cardwell bought the station and ran it as partners for a couple of years before he became sole owner in 1999.
Wilson also has a few other things going on in his life. He grew up in the Baptist church and preached his first sermon at the age of 17 at Zion Hill Baptist Church. Over the next few years, he filled in a lot for other preachers and he became an ordained minister in 1991 and his first church was New Hopewell Baptist Church He is now the full time preacher at Wallace Baptist Church.
He has had a few hobbies that have fallen by the wayside in the past few years. He doesn't hunt and fish like he once did, but he never lost his interest in sports. Most readers would recognize his voice from the radio where he had done some pre-game shows with Lynn Smith on Friday nights. He has also filled in during some of the games.
He and his wife have three sons, Dale Wilson, Jeff Wilson (who is married to Cile Smith) and Daniel Wilson (who is married to Alisa McKenzie) and they also have a grandchild on the way.
Wilson is not always at the service station. He has a few other things going in his life, as if he needs them. He raises South African Boer goats for sale and to help in this work he owns a Great American Pyrenees dog. This dog is of one mind. He looks after his goats. He doesn't care about what everyone is doing around him except where it concerns his goats.
Wilson is also a collector. He has a large collection of antiques and apparently he collects anything else that might tickle his fancy. He has a collection of Vaseline green glass, which is ordinary looking until it is put under a black light, which gives it a green glow.
It is clear that Wilson loves his old fashioned gas station, but he has many other interests as well. Stop by Midtown and get your windshield wiped.