Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian The Flying A station, at the corner of Main Street at Auto Center Drive in Watsonville, will be one of numerous buildings addressed at the May 11 Historic Landmark Blue Plaque Award Ceremony.

The Flying A station was built between 1926 and 1927, and was last used in 1989, where it originally stood at the corner of  Main and Fifth streets.  

It began as Mellander and Brown’s Associated Gas, and was later known as the “Flying A” station for one of the Tidewater Associated Oil brand names. It was rebuilt around 1938 and was one of four stations at the busy Main Street intersection, where drag racing and hot rods were popular in the 1950s. 

The little landmark received a Historic Landmark Blue Plaque Landmark Award  by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History around 2012.

That plaque is now being restored, even as several others are getting new ones on May 11 for the 50th anniversary of the Blue Plaque program.

When the station was moved to its current spot, Watsonville resident Carla Parks said she worked as assistant manager for more than eight years at the Flying A until it closed, according to a Pajaronian article in 2006. She said it was a tiny station for its five old pumps, which workers had to clear manually after each fill. The Flying A was especially popular with firefighters and police officers in town, she said.

“That was a busy little gas station,” Parks said. “We had the cheapest cigarettes in town.”

Honoring the structures and the people who make them stand out, the free event is open to the public, especially those with a passion for Santa Cruz History, said Robb Woulfe, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. 

Blue Plaques are awarded to structures in Santa Cruz County that are at least 50 years old and hold historic significance,including unique architectural features and big names in county history. Local historians and community members will explore their research and personal stories related to the Blue Plaque recipients. More than 300 plaques have been awarded since 1973.

The May 11 event will include 2020-2023 awards which occurred without a ceremony due to the pandemic, which were awarded to several houses and a number of pioneer surf shops. The 2024 plaques will be awarded to residential buildings, an affordable apartment project, a fire station and a renewed refurbished plaque for the Flying A gas station.

The event is scheduled for May 11 from 1-2:30pm at the MAH, 705 Front St., in Santa Cruz.

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