Just because the water has not been shut off at the curb (as far as you know) doesn't mean it's a decrepit valve. They may well have maintained it somewhere along the line.
At my curb (Southern California) the shutoff is about a foot below the sidewalk with the meter right there in that box. I just use a crescent wrench and a big screwdriver through the "hang-hole" on the handle to get the torque necessary to turn the horizontally-mounted valve. I really wish I had the proper tool, but I never think to pick one up for the time in the future I'm likely to need it. I'd think something like those old 3-foot-long manual sprinkler control tools might work.