By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Alan Cafferty, owner of Bryan’s Service Station on the corner of Main Avenue and Third Street in Winsted, wasn’t around when his father, Bryan, started the business in 1935.
Bryan’s first shop was in a one-stall garage behind Sherman Station in west Winsted. Later, he bought the shop in Winsted, and moved his business to town in 1954.
Alan’s first memory of working for his dad was more than 40 years ago, when he was 7 years old. His job was greeting customers as they pulled in to get the full-service treatment. Alan would pump the gas, check the oil, wash the windows, and even pump up the tires.
“Gas was 19 cents a gallon, and you could buy a quarter’s worth in 1969,” Alan recalled.
Bryan’s Service Station celebrated its 76th anniversary May 14. Coincidentally, May 14 is also Bryan’s birthday and the same day he died five years ago at the age of 87.
The business name will remain Bryan’s Service.
“It’s my way of honoring dad,” Alan said.
Bryan and his wife, Eleanore, had 10 children, and when they were old enough, both the girls and boys took their turn helping out at the shop. Alan is the Caffertys’ ninth child, and the youngest boy.
There were two gas pumps in the 1960s and 1970s, which were later removed, according to Alan, because they were too much work for the family, and only made 3 cents per gallon of gas sold.
Once the pumps were taken out, life was much easier at the shop.
“We didn’t have to stay open until 9 pm. every night,” Alan said.
In addition to pumping gas, Alan had to wash parts for old tractors because his dad did a lot of tractor repair something that Alan no longer does.
By the time Alan was 14, he had graduated to working on cars.
“Dad had the patience of a saint,” Alan recalled. “He never got angry, and we just learned as we went along.”
Besides working in the shop, the family owned about 30 dairy cows and 200 hogs.
“I would get up in the morning and milk the cows, then go to school,” Alan said. “After school, I would go home, change, and come over here and work at the station until dark.”
“Dad had dairy cows until I was 21,” Alan said.
When Alan graduated from Holy Trinity in 1980, he had considered a career as an accountant, but after a year at St. Cloud State College he was called home because, his dad had hurt his shoulder and his mother had broken her arm. Both accidents happened within two weeks of each other. Because he was the youngest boy, he felt it was his duty to help out.
In 1981, Alan became the primary mechanic at Bryan’s, and he has worked at the shop ever since.
Bryan’s Service Station underwent major renovations last year. The shop was stripped down to nothing and all new electrical and heating systems, new ceilings and cement were put in, and the shop was painted.
The shop looks like it did in a photo taken of the building in 1936.
“We wanted it to look authentic. It still serves its purpose and still has the pit in there,” Alan said.
Alan received the Winsted Pride Award last year for the improvements he made.
As far as business goes, Alan no longer repairs tractors or does any small-engine repairs. That was his dad’s forte.
Today, the business is strictly automobiles.
“We handle all makes and models of foreign or domestic cars,” Alan said. “The shop offers a little bit of everything, from engine repairs to oil changes, and diagnostics.”
“Our equipment is as good as just about any dealership. We stay on top of all the diagnostic systems and information systems that go with it,” Alan said.
Alan has been married to JoLynn (Mosher) for 20 years. They have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Erin is married to Keith Bobrowski, and they live in Howard Lake.
Jamie Meuleners is married to Dave, and they live in Winsted.
Paige is single, and lives in Minneapolis.
If anyone knows the exact year the gas pumps were removed from Bryan’s Service, contact Alan Cafferty at (320) 485-2228.
For the first person with the correct answer, Alan promises an oil change for the same price it was going for the year the pumps were taken out.