Tuesday, August 10, 2010

R.I.P. Greenwich Exxon

The former home of Greenwich Exxon--later known as Greenwich Gulf, and then as Greenwich "no-name"--ceased to exist today. Two bulldozers and a wrecking crew reduced it to rubble in a matter of hours. The service station--with a huge emphasis on the "service"--that had kept our cars fueled and running for decades is no more.

Owner Chris Canavan put in obscene hours nurturing and growing the business. He treated every customer as a friend, and it would be no exaggeration to talk of "the Greenwich Exxon family". Even his own daughters, Katie and Emily, could often be found behind the counters in recent years, as they, too, began to take pride of ownership in the business.

Chris fought like a tiger (the Exxon tiger) to retain control of the business and property he had managed for decades. But corporate sleaze won out, as it seems to do more and more these days. Eventually all channels of appeal ran out. Greenwich lost one of its oldest, and best, family-owned businesses.

And for what? Wait for it, dear reader. Another out-of-state bank branch. And not just any out-of-state bank: a Chase bank. There is a Chase bank a stone's throw to the west, next to Cosi. And another one two stones' throws east, next to Waterworks. And another three stones' throws away at the top of Greenwich Avenue. And yet another one four or five stones' throws away across from St. Mary's. And of course another still about eight stones' throws away just south of the Post Office.

Chase banks in the Town of Greenwich are like weeds. And, like weeds, they usurp the healthy, productive plants that used to grow in their place. Cos Cob is next on their hit list. And one doubts that they will stop there.

"It's just not fair. How can some people live with themselves?"

Thus Katie Canavan on her FaceBook page. No, Katie, it's not fair. I even went down to Town Hall two weeks ago to try to place a stay on the demolition. It turns out the new owners had lied on their demolition permit application, saying that the building had been constructed in 1970. I asked the Building Department to research this, and they found that the building had actually been constructed in 1948. But in order for a stay to be placed on the demolition, it would have had to have been built in 1940 or earlier. I missed out by 8 years. (But I did find out that the new owners had falsified their permit application.)

Your scribe has a humble suggestion: that we, the citizens of the Town of Greenwich, hereby resolve to boycott this new and totally unnecessary Chase bank branch. And ditto the one coming soon to Cos Cob, replacing the family restaurant Bella Nona. Maybe this way Chase CEO Jamie Dimon will get the message: don't mess with our local businesses here in Greenwich. You'll be sorry if you do.

But in the meantime, it's we, the citizens of Greenwich, who are the sorry ones. Chris, Katie, and Emily: thank you for all you have done for us as individuals, and for Greenwich as a community. We will continue to patronize you in your new locations. But we will not be quick to forgive J. P. Morgan Chase Bank for its ruthless robber-baron behavior so typical of J. P. Morgan himself. To quote Katie Canavan, one wonders how Jamie Dimon and his venal minions can live with themselves?

Well, karma will catch up with Chase and Dimon eventually, when there is a Chase bank on every street corner here in Greenwich, and people begin to pull their money out in order to support one of our local banks instead. Did these misguided greedy capitalists think they could buy the entire Town of Greenwich? Hah! Do we have news for them.

Your scribe cheerfully predicts that the new Chase branch at 111 West Putnam Avenue will have bad karma from its opening day onward. Sure, they will try to draw in new business with $100 bonuses, but any right-thinking citizen of this Town will give it a wide berth. And sooner or later it will be closed down--or perhaps the whole bank will simply implode from over-expansion--and it, too, will become a pile of rubble, just as Greenwich Exxon has become today. R.I.P., Greenwich Exxon. And thanks for the good memories.


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