There’s a Saying for That

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Anyone driving south on North Shore Road, or anyone stuck in traffic on the same route might be missing a little inspiration that used to be on a sign board in front of an auto shop.

For years, Alan “Doc” Kagan got a kick out of sharing quotations that might make a difference to the reader driving by.

He started putting up the inspirational signs in 1978. Kagan had simple rules – no advertising, nothing on the pumps, no politics and nothing sexist.

“A grey hair is a sign of wisdom” was one of the first phrases that went up.

Then Kagan started studying the sayings on the Salada tea bags.

“We always kept them short so people would be able to read them when they drove by,” Kagan said.

Another favorite was, “The best way to double your money is to fold it in half.”

Kagan started his business in 1968 when he was 25 years old.  He first started as an Amico Gas Station, and just recently retired being a Pennzoil shop. The property was sold recently for $760,000 to a group that wants to turn the property into a church.

“When I started, regular gas was 33 cents,” said Kagan, a Revere native who added he even had a a real telephone booth on the premises. “It was simply auto sales and service.”

Then the 1970s energy crisis kicked in, and gas became scarce, and although he kept the pumps, the business eventually evolved into the sales of used cars and repairs. Kagan worked long days from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. His wife Brenda was his first employee. In later years he always had a crew of four or five people working for him.

“She used to get tips for pumping gas and running for parts.” Kagan said. His sons, Brian and Phillip, joined the business later on.

Kagan said it was his son Brian who used to put the sayings on the sign. He would keep it up for eight to 10 days.

“People used to call us about the saying,” Kagan said.

Now the Shirley Avenue native, who grew up on Hichborn Street in a third-floor apartment, is enjoying his retirement and his family. Kagan graduated from Revere High School in 1959.

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