Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

The Classical Gas Museum

Three pumps from 1941-1944

Johnnie Meier, a retired Los Alamos scientist, has a theory that everyone has a proclivity to collect something or another as a remnant of our old hunter gatherer days. I collect antique French textiles which are kept in an armoire. Johnnie, on the other hand, went big. He collects and restores vintage gas pumps, cars, oil cans, clocks, neon signs, diners, S&H Green Stamp books, Coca Cola memorabilia  and old car stuff. And each piece is a work of art and a bit of history.

The Museum Building

Johnnie started “messing around with old cars” as a teenager. He started his serious collecting about 25 years ago. In 1992 he purchased 2 acre in Embudo which sits between Santa Fe and Taos on Highway 68. He built and opened the 1,000 square foot Classical Gas Museum in 1997.

“I love it when people walk into the Museum and say wow,” he says. “The way I have things displayed, they can see the design, see these functional pieces as art as I do. I appreciate the graphic art, the use of color and unique tints.”

1935 Flight Gasoline

I was quite taken with this 1930′s Wayne Model 60 gas pump. “This one is considered one of the most beautiful pumps ever made. It was important to the company that it be beautiful.”

1920′s Powerine Gasoline

Johnnie has provided gas pumps for 6 major motion pictures, including “No Country for Old Men,”  “Wild Hogs,” and the newly released “God Bless Me Ultima.” His museum is the backdrop for fashion shoots and inspiration for artists and photographers. He also sells his restored pumps.

1940′s Indian Gasoline

There is no cost for admission but Johnnie has a big jar collecting dollars for the local animal shelter in Dixon. Last year at Christmas he handed the shelter a check for $1,500.

Polly Gas from 1940′s-1950′s West Coast

If you stop by next weekend you might get a glimpse of  the new Jetta Hybrid being introduced by Volkswagen as well as the vintage pumps. Seems VW is gathering 80 journalists from all over the country to test drive the new car on a route between Santa Fe and Taos. They will be stopping at the Museum, not for gas, but a cool drink from one of the beautiful old coolers.

1957 Chevy Being Restored…NFS

The Museum is located at 1819 Highway 68 in Embudo. Johnnie is open most days, but best to give him a call at 505-852-2995 before you come. Don’t forget to leave a few dollars for the animal shelter.

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