Jul 30

1959 S&H gas station


July 16, 1959

Set the wayback machine to the Eisenhower era.

Currently this is the record holder for oldest image from our files. Tribune librarian Sharon Morem found this print in the bottom of a manila file folder. It went with a four paragraph business brief.

You can see the penciled crop marks a copy editor used to tell the camera room how to shoot the halftone. If the previous sentence makes no sense to you don’t worry. I don’t understand why anyone would want a face on their book or why it takes a computer to create my space.

The S&H gasoline company opened its 21st station in the chain at 1371 Monterey St. This is the same station under another name four years later seen from the railroad bridge in another Vault blog post. The price had dropped a penny in 1963.

Regular gas was priced at 32.9 cents, splurge on ethyl (premium) for 34.9 cents. You also might want to stock up those $2.10 cartons of cigarettes. In the era before electronic tellers, a place that could cash your paycheck on the weekend could be a welcome sight.

There was more price competition between the major and independent fuel vendors back in the day.

There were also fewer world consumers then with China, India and Eastern Europe much less able to afford oil.

Soon we will buy all our fuel from one company, and we will be happy. All bow and open your charge cards to Unoxxonacobilron.

Local station owners tell me that over the years the oil companies have kept margins on gas much the same and the only way they hang on is with mini-markets and car washes.

My guess is the station offered S&H Green stamps too. Fill that book up and win a prize.

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  1. 1968 Cambria Air Station