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Jimmy Bud Lang's 60 years under the 76 sign

Posted 5/16/24

CLAY HILL – You won’t find it on Apple Maps, but a former 76 gas station has been in business since 1952, back when gasoline was sold by the gallon in cents. It is known in the …

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Jimmy Bud Lang's 60 years under the 76 sign


Posted

CLAY HILL – You won’t find it on Apple Maps, but a former 76 gas station has been in business since 1952, back when gasoline was sold by the gallon in cents.

It is known in the community as the “Lang Store” or “Jim Bud’s.” Located at 6072 CR 218 down the road from Clay Hill Baptist Church, entering the old country store is like stepping into a time capsule.

The ambiance is unlike the sterile, buzzing fluorescence permeating modern gas stations off the interstate. The wood paneling creates a cozy feeling, and the decorative antiques lining the shelves convey a rustic charm. In the front room, you’ll be greeted with shelves of chocolate, candy, potato chips and other snacks.

Jimmy Bud Lang, 85, lives in the backrooms, which are characteristic of old-fashioned gas stations that were traditionally family-run businesses.

Jim Bud’s has been a cultural focal point for Clay Hill. It used to be a polling precinct where some residents used to pick up their packages.

You can no longer fill your car’s tank at Jim Bud’s (not since the pumps dried up in the 90s), but you can fill up on snacks and old stories from Lang, who has been a beloved figure of the Clay Hill community for decades.

“Lived here all my life,” Lang said.

Lang said he was gone briefly when he served in the U.S. Army in the 60s. He returned home to Clay Hill in 1964, just a year before the conflict in Vietnam escalated. The first U.S. ground troops were deployed to Vietnam in 1965.

In 1964, Lang had a relative in his family who owned the store but was suffering from diabetes. She asked Lang to take over the store. Lang said that she passed away in 1967.

Lang still lives and works at the store 60 years later.

"I'm one of the older ones now. Not too many who are older than I am,” he said.

He said his favorite memories are the hours he spent talking to people passing through. He’s met an assortment of characters, and he’s watched many from Clay Hill grow up to adulthood.

The teal bench outside Jim Bud’s porch has been nicknamed the “Liar’s Bench.”

“The older men would come and visit. They’d sit there for hours at a time at the bench,” he said.

The Jim Bud’s store has been a nostalgic home for many residents in Clay Hill, and it has also become a slight tourist attraction.

"There isn't a week that goes by where someone doesn't come by and take photos,” he said.

He laughed when asked if he was famous. 

"I try not to be," he said. 

While it is easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses, Jim Bud’s has had its fair share of hard times. There have been numerous break-ins and thefts.

"I heard something that sounded like glass shattering. When I checked who it was, he was gone. But I knew who he was. He broke the side window but didn't enter. He was scared of getting cut," Lang said. 

One time, when Lang was working the register, two assailants put a gun on him and took off with not just the cash but the entire register.

Lang's empathetic neighbors donated an old register from one of their grocery stores in Middleburg. Lang still uses the register for transactions today. However, for Lang, owning Jim Bud’s isn’t about making a fat bottom line. It is about carrying on his family's legacy, following his relative’s wish for him 60 years ago.

"I don't make a whole lot of money. But money isn't your life,” he said.

That's why he said he's never selling his 76 sign that hangs above the store greeting cars traveling along CR 218. A collector from Nebraska has asked incessantly to purchase the sign, even offering $1,000. 

"It's not for sale," Lang told him. Multiple times.