With the possible exception of Manhattan Island, there may be no settlement in America more inimical to the automobile than Provincetown. (And if you think that’s an exaggeration, just try driving along Commercial Street on a Friday or Saturday evening in summer. Drop me a line if you ever get to the West End.) So how are we to interpret the seemingly paradoxical fact that at the gateway formed by Commercial and Bradford Streets, visitors have long been greeted by an automotive service center? Just another bit of Provincetown whimsy? Or a warning to motorists: “Abdandon all hope, ye who enter”?
The presence of a filling station at this key crossroads goes back at least to the late 1920s. In the 1930s, as the postcard shows, this was an outlet for products of the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony). By the 1950s, it was a Texaco dealership run by Manuel Peters, succeeded in the 1950s by Joe Peters. Beginning in 1983, Todd J. Henning ran it as Todd’s Repair Service. It is currently Rego Automotive, run by Josh Rego, who is a skilled machinist. In 2011, Rego was able to draw a surprising amount of support when he sought a zoning variance that would permit him to repair and manufacture guns in his metalworking shop, using the machinery already in place. Among the arguments that resonated with town residents was that Rego was trying hard to maintain a local, year-round business. The zoning board of appeals voted unanimously in January 2012 to grant Rego a special permit.