Full service with a smile

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 1999

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / March 20, 1999

In this age where you pump your own gasoline and swipe your own credit card, there’s one place in LaPlace you can still stay in your car and get the proverbial “service with a smile.”Lionel Joseph “Pickle” Edler does things the old-fashioned way.

Edler, who operates the Conoco station at the corner of Fifth and Main in LaPlace, rolls out the red carpet for his loyal customers, not only pumping gas but checking oil, tires, wipers and hoses.

Not one to blow his own horn, it’s almost certain he can fix one although he doesn’t do mechanic work anymore. However, he includes routinemaintenance as part of his service. If something’s wrong he’ll let youknow.

And regular clients have come to rely on the unassuming man who’s as bald as an, excuse the pun, cucumber to take care of their automotive needs.

As to how Edler, 66, acquired the unlikely nickname, he’s not really sure himself. He thinks it originated to differentiate between him and anotherlocal who is also called L.J.”L.J. Madere was called ‘Big Pickle,'” he says, “and they just startedcalling me ‘Little Pickle.'”Now, to all who know him, he’s just Pickle.

Edler says he’s provided full service since he began operating the station 27 years ago, and he plans to continue for as long as he can.

“I won’t retire until the day I die. You’ve gotta have money to retire,”Edler jokes.

On a more serious note he says, “I’ve seen too many people go down after they retire. In this job I’m outside, I’m active, I get to talk to people.”In 1964, after working at several jobs, he decided to go in business for himself, and for eight years operated a Shell station on Airline Highway where he became a big hit with the children who came to the station with their parents.

At that time Edler kept a big fish tank at the station. When children camein they could grab a flyswatter, kill a few flies that gathered around the dogs he kept in the back and feed the fish.

“I believe there were some kids who learned to say ‘Pickle’ before they could say ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad,'” he says, laughing.

It was in those days that Edler, who now has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren of his own, established lifelong alliances with the locals who came to buy gas.

In the years he’s been in business he’s built up relationships with people who won’t take their business anywhere else.

“The ladies from Place du Bourg come to me to check their cars,” Edler says. “They know they can trust me and that I’ll do a good job.”Five years ago Maxime Autin decided to give the Conoco station a test run when the gas pumps at the station he normally patronized were being changed.

One stop at Pickle’s place and he became a regular patron.

“He cashed my check for me,” says Autin. “And I just kept coming backafter that.”Up until a few months ago, Edler and his buddies gathered at the station every Friday night after closing time for a friendly game of cards.

He spent weekends fishing in the waters of Lake Verrett or the Atchafalaya.

But last October, his wife of 47 years, the former Josephine Millioto, was diagnosed with cancer. She is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments,and Pickle spends his extra time with her.Back to Top

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