Tuesday, October 07, 2008

SIGNS OF THE TIME 9

43rd and Guadalupe, Austin Texas January 1980

For me, nothing represents the passing of an era more than old filling stations. We call them gas stations these days, and rarely do you hear anyone refer to them by their past era common name. Now-a-days most people would refer to "their" gas station by its brand -- Shell station, Exxon station, Mobil station, etc. In scanning my older 4x5 negs, I'm finding a few images of these old buildings, most of them converted to other uses now. They can be identified by their drive through portico, and a narrow island where pumps once stood -- sometimes even an old pump or two still standing like the image on this blog entry. Most rare are the old hand-cranked pumps where one would literally grab hold of a long vertical handle and pump the amount of gas you wanted to purchase into a glass reservoir marked in gallons that sat atop the pump. After filling the reservoir to the amount you wanted, a hose connected at the bottom of the glass bowl and fitted with a valve much like still in use today would allow you to drain the gas into your tank. This was in the days when gas was 5-10 cents a gallon, and if you over filled the reservoir a little, no one cared. Now-a-days that little bit of over-fill would be worth up to 40-cents or so. Back in those hand-pump days, "40-cents or so" would be the total for the fill-up. Yes, times have changed, and so have the filling stations. "Signs of the time" can also include modern stations -- see here.

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