The George’s Service building at the corner of Highway 33 and Durham Ferry Road southeast of town was for more than five decades an active gathering place for residents of the New Jerusalem district.
Stopping by George’s Service for gasoline, an oil change, groceries and countless cups of coffee ended 16 years ago, when George and Mei Teranishi closed their service station and small store.
Now, the empty concrete block building itself, the final vestige of what had become a community landmark over 55 years, is no more. It has been demolished within the past several weeks to make way for a new use for the highway frontage property.
The New Jerusalem School District, which operates Delta Charter Schools, has purchased the land, which can be used for future expansion.
The building was constructed in 1947 and purchased by the Teranishis a year later in 1948, after George, a World War II Purple Heart veteran who had been wounded in France while serving with the famed “Go for Broke” 100th Battalion-442nd Regimental Combat team, returned from and Army, and Mei came from a relocation center, where she was among those of Japanese ancestry interned during the war.
It didn’t take long for the business, with George operating the service station and Mei in charge of the store, to become an integral part of the New Jerusalem community.
Dr. Paul Teranishi, a Tracy dentist and one of two surviving sons — Sheldon, a pharmacist, lives in Port Townsend, Washington — remembers old-timers drinking coffee while hashing over war memories and old times in the New Jerusalem area.
“It was always a lot more than just a service station and store,” he said. “It was a gathering place.”
And we can’t forget the George’s Service Gassers. It was a legendary sports name for the National League team for which New Jerusalem area youths played in Tracy Recreation baseball games after they had played in the Pee Wee League for Trinkle & Boys Agricultural Flying Service.
George’s Service was closed in 2003 when George and Mei retired. George died in 2008 and Mei in 2011.
In recognition of what the family and their business meant to the New Jerusalem community, the new 10,000-square-foot multipurpose room of the New Jerusalem School District and its Delta Charter Schools on Koster Road was named in 2013 the Teranishi Events Center.
The crumbling George’s Service building is gone, but the Teranishi Events Center now serves as the community focal point — a more impressive, continuing reminder of the Teranishi family’s legacy.
Next time you drive past the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station, think of Jeff Pribyl.
The 1974 graduate of Tracy High School, with a master’s degree in architecture from Cal, was the lead architect in designing the unique, serpent-style building.
Jeff, who also did quite a bit of research on early Tracy-area history, died recently in Vallejo at the age of 63. Services are planned July 29 at the Community Presbyterian Church in Vallejo.