Filling up in the ‘60s

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Some of the information in this post comes from The Preservation and Reuse of Historic Gas Stations (National Park Service – US Department of the Interior). This is something that we might have referred to in the past as, “for reals.”

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Unless your tank is empty, gasoline stations rarely attract attention. Yet, for the past hundred years gas stations have occupied prime locations on main streets and suburban corners, on small town roads, and along early highways. They are one of America’s most common commercial building types and are emblematic of the twentieth century. Surviving historic stations are physical reminders of the transportation revolution and the influence of increased mobility on the landscape. They are a reflection of car culture, pop culture, corporate standardization, and an era of customer service that today seems quaint.” The National Park Service is trying to retain this part of America for future generations to experience.

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Remember when you drove up to a gas pump and an attendant would ask how much gas you wanted, either in dollars or gallons, and what kind you wanted? By what kind, he meant octane level. Then, the attendant would switch on the pump, set the dials back to zero, dispense the gas, and collect your money, since credit cards weren’t quite in vogue, except for actual gasoline credit cards. He would make change on the spot from a coin dispenser on his belt, or he’d disappear into the office to return with your change.

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In addition to pumping your gas, the attendant would regularly wash the windshield and check your tire air pressure. He’d also ask whether you’d like the oil checked. He’d do all that and the average price of a gallon of gas was between twenty-five and thirty cents a gallon. And certainly, you can’t forget the “price wars” or extra incentives, like drinking glasses, towels, kid’s toys and other loyalty awards, like trading stamps form S&H or Gold Bell. mZYasujrqAX0KIT7WAnFiGQ

The most sought after incentives were collector coin sets most of which were produced by the Franklin Mint.

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Maps were a very important part of every journey, and the gas stations were the places to go whenever you needed a specific map. Generally, the stations stocked state maps, and perhaps adjacent state maps as well, but if you were traveling a long distance, stopping to get those maps was vital to a successful journey.

Almost every gas station had a service bay and an on-sight mechanic who could fix whatever might be wrong with your car while you waited. There were cans of oil on display along with tires, batteries and windshield wipers. In addition, the stations had a bevy of coin operated vending machines with beverages, candy, sandwiches available along with personal products in the bathrooms.

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After World War II, the “rectangular box” gas station profile using concrete blocks was most prevalent. By the 1960s, that design was being replaced with gently sloping shingled roofs, brick and stone facades and ornaments, including signage, fabricated from aluminum and molded plastic.

I forgot how charming (and inexpensive) filling your gas tank used to be.

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Kips Toyland Part Two

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So the reason I went to Kip’s Toyland in the first place was to discover what toys we had as baby boomers that still survive. Kip’s Toyland has been around a long time, having started the year before the baby boom officially began.

Since Don Kipper, a leading edge baby boomer himself, and the current owner of Toyland was preparing for his store’s seventieth anniversary, he had already done a lot of research. I am simply taking advantage of his knowledge, and have added other information I discovered.

Here’s a part of what he had written down. I’ll bet you will remember most of these toys. I’ll also bet it will be tougher for you to figure out whether you played with them, your children played with them or both. They’ve been around a long time. The years are when the toys were patented or first brought to market, although some, like Jacob’s ladder, have been around for thousands of years although in slightly different forms.

  • Parchesi 1867
  • Tiddlywinks 1888
  • Jacob’s Ladder 1892
  • Crayola crayons 1902
  • Erector Sets 1913
  • Tinker Toys (no longer made) 1914
  • Raggedy Ann 1915
  • Lincoln Logs 1916
  • Duncan YoYo (Patent) 1932
  • Sorry 1934
  • Monopoly 1935
  • Chutes and Ladders 1943
  • Slinky 1945
  • Scrabble 1948
  • Candyland 1949
  • Pick Up Sticks Unknown
  • Marx Fort Apache 1958

If you still have any of these classic toys in original packaging, they are worth a considerable amount of money. Today, many of them are made in China, and they cost a lot more than they did when we played with them.  Unfortunately, you can’t get chemistry sets any more.

Here is a photomontage of today’s packaging except for Fort Apache. Don has an original of Fort Apache displayed over the front counter.

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If you’re ever close to Los Angeles, you’ve got to visit Kip’s Toyland.