High Octane, High Prices

By Phylis Badgley

Oh for the days when $3.10 would fill the gas tank, compared to #3.10 for One gallon today!

Remember pulling to the gasoline pump and smiling at the attendant when saying "Fill er up!" We even managed a smile when the price approached a dollar a gallon, but today not many smiles are seen at the pump. Apparently high octane, means high prices. Burning gasoline burns the wallet as well.

A step back in time brings to mind gasoline pumps with a visible glass top cylinder. A metal band inside the cylinder indicted how many gallons were pumped. After the drawdown, the attendant pumped a side handle to refill the glass cylinder.

What, no digital?

Earlier era stations highlighted "service" as a magnet to lure business. Window washing, with chamois cloth, filling radiator, checking oil, and air pressure in tires was routine with purchase of gasoline.

Do you remember stacked oil cans in pyramid style that drew attention of motorists? Always good idea to carry extra oil for emergency. Fan belts, too, hung in the station window, to remind drivers to "carry a spare."

A large percentage of gasoline sales were cash transactions before widespread use of credit cards came into vogue. Buy now, pay later.

During WWII when gasoline was rationed, carpools were established. 5 gallons were allotted for one ration ticket. The severity of short supply made conservation a must. Any long journeys were executed only by "pooling" ration tickets. Added mileage meant you rode on trust, as tires (also rationed) wore thin. To emphasize gasoline shortage, slogans were posted freely that admonished drivers "Is this trip really necessary?"


1952 – An Electrifying Year

Perhaps it’s ambiguous to suggest that Pat Boone’s hit song, “ You Light Up my Life” could become the theme for a small hamlet in N.E. Oregon.
Electricity “lighted up the life” of residents in HOME, OR, for the first time in 1952. This sparsely settled area is located downstream on Snake River, 20 miles from the nearest town of Huntington, Or.
When the network of poles, wires, and insulators brought the initial supply of power, it also brought jubilation! The main topic was considered light (pun) conversation. Residents were elated with the magic that leaped from flipping for a light switch.
Prior to the coming of electricity, families in that isolated district were quite familiar with lanterns and kerosene lamps. Adjusting a wick nestled in kerosene or cleaning a coated lamp chimney were considered routine duties. After evening chores were completed, many a card game was played by lamplight. With the advent of electricity, the games continued, but some people indicated a noticeable glare reflected from the cards.
Donna Terrell, a resident during the transition from kerosene to electricity, told me of her reaction to the sudden flow of electric power to the promises. My question was “What was most important appliance you gained from having electric access?” Without hesitation, Donna replied,” The refrigerator and freezer.” She also recalled formerly preparing baby formula by lamplight for her toddler son. Electricity certainly aided this task as well as sterilizing baby bottles. Terrell told of small appliances added for kitchen convenience, but reiterated emphatically the acquisition of the “fridge” and freezer as top priority for her.
Was that an echo I heard, or did someone say, “Toss out the lamp wicks, and grab the light globes.”
Snake River Canyon residents have enjoyed 50 years of electric power created by Brownlee, Oxbow, and Hell’s Canyon Dam in N.E. Oregon. These facilities “light up the lives” for large cities as well.

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