Friday, April 11, 2008

Classical gas

By Libby

This story about how a corporate chain convenience store inadvertently sold premium gas for 35 cents a gallon is hysterical. I sum up up the funny part at Newhoggers but I'd like to pose the question here too. If you suddenly discovered a store was charging that little for gas would you tell the clerk, or would you tell your friends?

I figure for myself, I don't use premium gas in the Toyota so I probably wouldn't have noticed and I most probably wouldn't have gone there if I found out through the grapevine, anticipating the ensuing traffic jam that finally tipped the clerks off. But I can understand how people would get excited about it. One woman quoted expressed wonder at paying that little for gas.

I actually remember paying 30 cents a gallon at the height of the great price war of 71 in Winsted, CT. Winsted was a funny little town, half stoned out hippie and half hot rodding greasers. It had a long Main Street with three gas stations on it. One at each end and one in the middle. The hot rodders used to drive up and down the street, all night long in their souped up rides that got eight miles to the gallon and needed to be gassed up a couple of times a night.

There were a lot of them, rumbling around that endless loop, enough to keep three gas stations in business. There was one section of town that fronted the river and had no businesses on it, and across the street was a long and really high stone wall. I think maybe there was a church on top of it. They would largely park there to occassionally congregate, although some mingled with the hippies that mostly took over the village green.

The summer of 71 the gas stations got into a price war. For a week or so they kept dropping the prices every day, sometimes twice a day. I think at the lowest point one station may have been charging 28 cents. I don't know what started the feud. It ended as suddenly as it began. But even at the customary 35 cents, and a big old gas guzzling Chrysler, driving around for no reason was a cheap pastime.

We used to drop the top on the convertible and drive around the back roads, deliberately trying to get lost. We found some beautiful places along the way. Driving was so much fun then.


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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

It may be hard to imagine a hippie hot-rodder, but I wasn't the only one. None the less, some things are best forgotten.

I remember pumping Texaco at about 26 or 28 cents a gallon during my first summer job in 1962 and someone could come in and spend a buck or two, get his tires and battery and oil checked, his windsheild washed and have enough gas to actually go somewhere. Sometimes I got a tip.

Friday nights I would sometimes head west down two lane Rte 22 past miles of nothing and just run wide open with the top down - particularly on the rare occasions when the Chicago AM stations would play some real Rock & Roll. I would hardly ever have to slow for another car.

9:55:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Ah, the era of the great American cars. Those were the days...

10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Tricky Dick Nixon said...

Love that story. I'm younger, but I do membere gas in the 80-cent range.

1:21:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

In '62 I had a bright red Austin Healy with a black top and a 1926 Model T. The girls were terrified of the former and loved the latter. Go figure.

I never was much into 60's American cars - except for Corvettes, of course. It's the open American Road I miss. It's long gone.

3:09:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Yeah it's the open road I miss too Fogg. You can't get lost on the back roads anymore much. Most of the land has been developed now. I was shocked to learn that they shut down part of old Rte 6 I think it was on the NY/CT border when they put the interstate in.

Not sure that's really true though. I never tried to find it since I don't get out that way anymore.

3:20:00 PM  

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