In 1976, Tucumcari made news with a new self-serve gas station on East
Tucumcari Blvd. being a little bit on the unique side for that time - and
probably the first self-serve station in that city. Like most other gas-only
outlets, this Bell station had lots of gas pumps selling regular, unleaded
and premium gas surrounding a small booth where the customer paid the
attendant. However, this booth was "bulletproof" as it was constructed of
steel exterior walls lined with lead (a substance that is now illegal in
virtually all forms including the 'lead' found in the stations regular and
premium gas) and windows were also bulletproof glass with six-inch
thickness. That Bell station, along with similarly designed stations owned
by the Texas-based company in Arlington and Dallas, was a virtual fortress.
If a customer also desired to buy a pack of cigarettes, the 'cancer sticks'
were given to the customer through the same hole the cash for the gas was
paid for and change returned. Also, there was a chute with a heavy steel lid
through which cans of motor oil (if purchased) were delivered to the
Today, that old Bell station remains in existence as Tucumcari Fina, now
with computerized pumps utilizing pay at the pump convenience, but the same
bullet-proof booth and a concession area with vending machines that are
screened a bit in front to prevent vandalism and/or theft. The Fina is
located about a block or so west of the Blue Swallow on the south side of
the street and in the vicinity of scores of other vintage motels.