R on Nardone began collecting gas station memorabilia in the mid-1960s, before it became popular. Every time a gas station remodeled, it got rid of its old signs and pumps. More often than not, the station owner considered the old stuff junk and was content to be rid of it. "Nardo" was happy to oblige. Even when an old station had nothing to offer, he photographed it to preserve the image. By the late 1970s, his collections had grown large enough that he needed more space to house them. What did he build for that purpose? Service stations, of course.

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W hen he was just a kid in the 1950s, Ron Nardone started to collect things such as old signs. His father said, “You can keep that stuff, but you have to put it in the garage. I don’t want to see it from the street.” Today, people love to see what he’s gathered over the years. Their interest makes his assortment of gas station signs, pumps, and other memorabilia worth it. People stop over with their street rods to photograph them by the old Shell pumps at his gate. Others drive up just to gawk at the three full-size reproduction service stations he’s built on the property, each bearing its own collectibles. If he’s around, he’ll usually open the gate and invite them in for a closer look.

He’s always loved to collect things. “I can’t tell you why,” he says. But a lot of people are glad he does. Little, if any, of what he owns is still made in that form or style, and much of this memorabilia exists only in the hands of collectors and museums. With a few exceptions—the ones Nardone and his peers hope to find—the rest of these historical pieces have been scrapped, or have deteriorated to the point of no return.

Nardone began collecting gas station memorabilia in the mid-1960s, before it became popular. Every time a gas station remodeled, it got rid of its old signs and pumps. More often than not, the station owner considered the old stuff junk and was content to be rid of it.

And Nardone was happy to oblige. Even when an old station had nothing to offer, he photographed it to preserve the image. By the late 1970s, his collections had grown large enough that he needed more space to house them. What did he build for that purpose? Service stations, of course.

Using his many photographs for inspiration, Nardone has constructed three full-size reproduction service stations on his seven-and-a-half acre property. Together they hold a vast assortment of oil cans, product and service signs, Tonka trucks, gas pumps, and related memorabilia. He inventoried everything in recent years but the collection moves on. He travels a lot and hits every swap meet in his area. For some of the things he collects, such as large signs, he doesn’t have much competition. Few other people have the room to store or display them. But unwieldy size makes these items rare for the same reason—what can’t be easily moved or stowed is usually scrapped. His biggest sign, and one of his favorites, is a Richfield service station sign made in 1937. Featuring a bald eagle in flight, the sign is 14 feet high and over 9 feet wide.

From Dream Garages by Kris Palmer

A friend of Nardone’s spotted the sign on a closed Richfield station in the center of a small town in Nevada. Nardone tracked down the owner—the grandson of the woman whose family once ran the station—and offered to buy it.

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Folks flock to "Nardo's" gate to gawk at the three full-size service stations he's built on the property. If they look nice, he invites them in.

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