To get a sense of what the Schorr Service Station has meant to the community for more than four decades, a plaque on the stations wall can sum it up:
The Schorrs are great citizens who exemplify the character and warmth of the north country, Army Maj. Gen. James L. Terry wrote two years ago in a Commanders Certificate of Appreciation. They have gone out of their way to provide honest service and care.
On Friday, the Schorr brothers, Robert P., 74, and Nelson C., 67, at 686 LeRay St., quietly welcomed the last customers at their automotive repair shop. They will keep its adjoining automatic car wash running.
Customers such as Cheri C. McGurn, Adams, who has been bringing her vehicles to the service station for two decades, are sad to see them hang up their tools. She and other customers didnt know Friday was the last day for the garages operation and were disappointed to find that out. The brothers say they are retiring because of declining health.
They are friendly and honest, Mrs. McGurn said. She described their shop as Norman Rockwell-ish, an image assisted by Rusty Wallace, the tiger cat who wanders the service bay and office and who will greet you if he takes a liking to you. The other feline mascot, Aboo, died about two years ago. Customers have sent dozens of Christmas cards and dropped off several plates of Christmas cookies.
Shortly after a sign was put in the window Friday indicating they were closed, John C. Sabik walked into the shop seeking a tip for a winter wiper blade. Nelson reached under the front counter, found one of the blades and told Mr. Sabik to keep the whole thing.
Mr. Sabik also was disappointed to learn of the brothers giving up their repair business.
Its a pillar of the community, he said.
The Schorr Service Station opened in August 1968, when Robert, who was stationed at Fort Drum, saw the property, the former Sunoco gas station owned by Parish Oil Co., for sale. He called his brothers in New Jersey, and within days of Robert seeing the property, they were running a repair service and selling gasoline, which in 1968, Nelson said, sold for 29 cents a gallon. A third brother, Harold, who helped run the shop, died in 1988. Roberts son, Robert, also assisted for a while.
I like the work, and the customers we had, Nelson said. They were more friends than they were customers.
Robert has a simple philosophy for success: You do your job and people appreciate it, he said.
Robert said that for the past 10 years, the brothers have reduced the number of repairs they perform, eventually discontinuing jobs such as tuneups and front-end alignments. But in the 1970s, the shop was cutting-edge when it became the first in the city to own a Sun Tune-Up Tester for engines.
It was ahead of its time, Nelson said. It was fantastic. We used to tune up all the hot rods. It was our specialty.
On Friday, one of the last customers was Ervin W. Titus of Watertown. He brought in his vehicle to see if the brothers could find the cause of a rattle coming from one of his wheels.
He left a happy customer.
It was a heat shield for the brake, Nelson said. It was squeaking like it needed brakes, but there was no repair. It was eight bucks to raise (the car) in the air and to lower him down again.