Diversion Number 24: Old Gas Stations! Old Cars! Wow!

Diversions for You and Your Friends is a feature of the blog, which appears every Monday. To find out more about Diversionsread the Introduction and Number 1, or you can visit the Diversions Archive.

Today’s diversion was sent to me by my sister. It included more than twice as many pictures as I have in this post. The ten I’ve chosen should be enough to help you return to the days when cars and gas stations were a bit different than they are today. In fact, some of these pictures may seem to come from another planet, especially if you are much younger than I.

The pictures I’ve chosen may tickle your fancy with registered restrooms, free hot dogs and drinks, and prices that hadn’t yet reached a dollar a gallon. Of course, to be fair, the average salary was a great deal lower then than it is today.

When I think about the changes in gas stations since these pictures were taken, how much of a change will there be in the next fifty years? Certainly there will be more electric plugs than gasoline pumps. And maybe by that time designers will have created better batteries, so a car can go much farther without recharging.

Incidentally, the pictures that came with the original email didn’t have comments, but I couldn’t resist adding my two-cents worth. So if you see an incorrect statement, blame me.

Goodyear - 1920s or 30s

This is the oldest picture in the group, likely before World War I. A Good Year tire store probably was needed much more back then, when the tires weren’t as sturdy as they are today.

Bomber Texaco StationMany years ago it was a fad to put a car on the top of a building, and even, as here, a plane.

Victory Girls

Wikipedia didn’t help me with a search for “Victory Girls” and “gas stations.” Instead, it suggested I might be interested in “Victoria girls.”

But if you go to Pinterest, you can find many photos of women handling the mechanical jobs of men during the second world war.

Check out the women at pumps at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/271904896222761254/

CucamongaIf you listened to the Jack Benny Show that was on the air from 1932 to 1955, you may remember that [according to the Ontario, California, Convention and Visitors Bureau website]:

“one of the catch-phrases of Jack Benny’s radio show involved a train announcer who said over the loudspeaker, “Train now leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cuc… amonga,” taking progressively longer pauses between “Cuc” and “amonga.”

“Part of the joke, for the Los Angeles audience, was that no such train route existed, although all three cities do exist. As a tribute to this ‘publicity’, the city of Rancho Cucamonga built its minor-league baseball stadium on a street they named Jack Benny Way, where the bronze statue of the TV host was originally housed at the building’s entrance. Ironically, Jack Benny Way intersects with Rochester Avenue, which is not named for the character portrayed by Eddie Anderson on “The Jack Benny Program”, but was named in 1889 after the hometown of three investors, all of whom were brothers from Rochester, New York.”

Registered Rest RoomsWhere do you register your rest rooms?

Stacked carsWhen my sister sent these pictures to me, she said that this one really intrigued her, wondering how they got the cars on and off the stacks. To find out the answer, I went to my trusty Google and found an article titled, “The Marvellous History of New York’s Hotel for Autos.” You may find it as interesting as I did: http://bit.ly/2wwG2Ev

Gilmore - Save 5 centsWas this poor planning on the part of the station owner—with 8 sets of pumps and only one car—or was this just a day when everyone was home with a cold?

Try Corn Alcohol 10% blendI don’t know much about the history of alcohol fuel or how it is made. Do they just squeeze corn until it drips oil? Wanting to know more, I checked with Wikipedia. Here are the first three and last three items in a list of 52 items describing the history of alcohol fuel. I found the last three, describing Bill Gates’ interest and action in the purchase and sale of ethanol stocks most interesting. Note the numbers in red.

Ethanol was first isolated from wine in approximately 1100 AD and was found to burn shortly thereafter. These early solutions distilled from wine—salt mixtures were referred to as aqua ardens (burning water) or aqua flamens (flaming water) and had such low alcohol content that they burned without producing noticeable heat. By the 13th century, the development of the cooling coil allowed the isolation of nearly pure ethanol by distillation.

  • Ethanol has been used for lamp oil and cooking, along with plant and animal oils. Small alcohol stoves (also called “spirit lamps”) were commonly used by travelers in the 17th century to warm food and themselves.
  • Before the American Civil War many farmers in the United States had an alcohol still to turn crop waste into free lamp oil and stove fuel for the farmers’ family use. Conflict over taxation was not unusual; one example was the Whiskey Rebellion in 1791. . . . .
  • In 2006, the Indy Racing League switches to a 10% ethanol-90% methanol fuel mixture, as part of a phase-in to an all-ethanol formula in 2007. Bill Gates buys a quarter of Pacific Ethanol Inc. for $84 million.
  • In 2007, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food urges five-year moratorium on food based biofuels, including ethanol, saying its development is a “crime against humanity.” The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls this “regrettable,” and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, called for more scientific research. “Clearly biofuels have great potential for good and, perhaps, also for harm.”
  • In 2008, Bill Gates sells most Pacific shares held by Cascade Investment for a loss of $38.9 million.

Trailor - Shell - Mother into trailorThis reminded me of a trip my parents took to see relatives in Northern Michigan. Dad went in to pay for the gas, didn’t see my mother go into the station’s restroom, and drove off without her. When my mother came out to find the car and trailer missing, she contacted the police, who drove her to where my father was driving down a road, totally oblivious that she had been left behind.

Many families must have expertienced a similar story at one time or another.

LIFE - cleaning white carPerhaps I am reading too much into this picture. But I notice the African-Americans (at the time, they would have been called Negros) in uniforms but with the job of cleaning the car, while the men in white service the car. Like I say, maybe I read too much into this. I would be interested in your opinion.

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