Denny Blount

The Amiable Amaco Kid

Long before Denny Blount, owner of the Brass Faucet Bar and Grill, began filling people’s tanks with food and beverages, he filled their car’s tanks with  gasoline. While he opened his current establishment in 1979, his service station career began 19 years earlier as a young boy.
“I was 10 years old when I started  for Bob Gurr at the Mobil station
on south Pines,” Denny said on a recent Sunday morning during an interview between cooking breakfast orders. ” I cleaned  the bathrooms and parts in the back room. I would work a few hours and
they would give me a buck or two.” By age 13 he was pumping gas and learning to be a mechanic.
” You worked for Bob didn’t you Dave?” Denny asked a customer eating breakfast at the bar. Dave says he did and he remembers back
to the times they would often change the price of gas three times in one day. “I used to hate that. I’d have to go out and change the numbers and stick (measure) the tank everytime,” Denny said.
It was a different  world with gas prices around 15 cents a gallon and full-service gas stations on every corner. Costumers often never
left there car when filling up as young men like Denny came out and
pumped the gas, washed the windows, checked the oil and then brought out the receipt. People usually became loyal to one station and owners like Bob Gurr, who I remember from my childhood as the guy with the white, handlebar mustache, became their friends. Folks relied on these guys to maintain and repair their cars. If you needed new tires or a battery, you normally got them from your favorite station.
Back then there were a lot to choose from. There was a Chevron on
the northwest corner of Sprague and Pines and a Phillips 66 kitty corner on the southeast. One block south was the Rainbow station and Bob  Gurr’s Mobil  was just  beyond that.  Hence  the  constant  price battles  and  free  giveaways such as the drinking glasses that always
kept our family’s cupboard well stocked.
It was in this competive but friendly atmosphere that Denny spent his adolescent and teen age years, learning the business and becoming a mechanic. When he was just 19, the owner of the Rainbow station ,where Denny then worked, offered to sell him another stationed he owned west of Sullivan on Sprague.
“Of course I didn’t have that kind of money, but my parents helped me out,” he said, adding that by then Standard Oil of Indianna had changed the name of their brand from Rainbow to Amaco.
Denny worked it hard, arriving for work at 5 am and doing most of mechanic work himself. It soon paid off. “At one time there were 17 Amaco stations in the Spokane area and we pumped more gas than any of them, he said.
There was also the social side that the affable Denny naturally excelled at with his  easy-going , friendly personality. ” People were always stopping by to have a cigarette and a pop and just shoot the breeze,” he said, adding that he and his crew would often meet friends after work down at Ichabod’s “to have a few beers and relax.”
“The place was always packed and you could hardly get any service,” he said,” and that made me think the area could use another  bar.” So in 1978, when the coming of K-Mart forced him out of his location, Denny decided to go into the bar business. He remodeled the vacated church at the corner of First and Robe (now the Blue Dolphin) just around corner from Ichabod’s and opened the
Brass Faucet.
” I actually went to Sunday School there when I was a kid,” he said, noting that his mother still lives in the house he was raised in a stone’s throw away to the east on First.
With just Raineer and Raineer Light on tap, Denny opened his beer-and-wine-only bar and did well from the start. ” For some reason we sold about 5 or 6 cases of Schlitz cans a week. We sold the most in Spokane,” he said. In those days, state laws required proprietors to sell 60 percent food at minimum and so only restaurant lounges typically sold hard licquer.
After loosing his lease in 1984, Denny moved to 13524 E. Sprague.He remained thre until selling it to Max McClain at the end of 1994. “I guess I just got burned out after 16 years in the business,” he said, explaining that he then became a truck driver delivering medical supplies to Montana 5 nights a week for the next 8 years before opening a small engine repair shop in his shop at home.
Meanwhile, Mclain had moved the Brass Faucet to the former Pizza Hut building next to Burger King in 2002 but was forced to close the doors in January of 2005. While his small engine repair business was doing well, it was fairly seasonal and so Denny had time on his hands and ideas in his head about that time of year.
“So I came down and talked to him and we worked out a price. He didn’t walk away with anything,” he said, explaining that in return for the equipment, name and lease, Denny agreed to help him with back taxes and rent owed to landlord Harlan Douglas.
“I started it and I really did not want to see it go down,” he said. He also revealed it had been a hard adjustment in 1994 when he sold out. ” You’re kind of lost. It hurt not seeing all your friends, at least not as much anyway.”
When asked about the future. Denny laughs, ” I want to retire in five years. No , I’ll probably never retire.” He has the place running in the black and spends time each day visiting with old friends like John “Jump” Gilman, sitting at the end of the bar drinking coffee on that Sunday morning.
“He used to be a big, heavy guy who everyone knew couldn’t jump and so we called him “Jump” to give him a hard time,” Denny said with a smile, ” he helped me set up my place when he worked for Joey August and was customer at the station.”
Like so many other Valley people, Jump is glad to get his tank filled
once again by the old Amaco kid, Denny Blount.
   The 160 Lb. Security System
   In today’s world when a business needs a security system there are lots of high tech options, but in the early 70’s and before, man’s best friend was still the best option.
“I got broke into 2 or 3 times. And the last time they took my entire roll-away tool set,” Denny said, talking about his Amaco station in Veradale. “So I put in a dog and never had another problem.”
The dog Denny found was a specially trained, 160-pound German shepard named Czar. “Czar could stand on his hind legs with his front paws on my shoulders and look me in the eye,” said the 6-foot Denny.
By day Czar lived in a kennel behind the station but by night he owned the station.
” I remember once the police called me from the payphone across the street and told me to come down and lock the front door that somebody had forgotten to shut,” he said, ” they said they would have locked it up themselves but Czar wouldn’t let them get close.”
Denny said that Czar was so well trained that he would take no food from anyone but himself. ” Many times my wife would try to give him the meat from a Ron’s burger which he would take in his mouth and then drop on the floor.”
Denny said there were a few times the overhead service doors were left unlocked and they would creep up a few feet on their own. ” I’d show up the next morning and Czar would be sitting right there just inside the door. He never would go out.”
Czar never went out, and nobody ever went in.
“The service door had a bunch of small windows and one next to the latch was busted out. It was padlocked on the inside so it was secure,” he said. ” One morning I saw some blood on the glass and thought Czar had cut himself because he used to jump up and put his paws on the door. But I checked him and didn’t see a scratch on him. So I knew some one had reached in to try and unlock the door and Czar got him.”

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