The gas station of yesteryear puts today's modern filling facilities to shame. It's insulting that we must pay close to $4 a gallon for gas, often pump it ourselves, and not get any kind of reward or thanks for our patronage.
For me, one of the most memorable scenes from Back to the Future is when Marty McFly, upon landing in his hometown during the 1950s, witnesses a full service gas station. A car pulls up and out of the station spring four uniformed attendants who not only fill the tank, but check the tire pressure and oil and wash the car's windows. These perks were free and it was the norm up until the 1970s. Not only that, but gas stations often gave away trinkets such as drinking glasses, toys, key chains, calendars, trading stamps and even road maps. Exxon was known for giving away a plush tiger's tail that could be affixed to your car's gas cap or a bicycle, to go along with their famous slogan, "Put a tiger in your tank."
|Image copyright Chris Donner|
This was also service with a smile - one baby boomer recalls here how he was allowed to help the attendant pump gas, earning a small reward as a result.
The oil crisis of the 1970s marked the beginning of the end for the full service station. Oil companies figured that customers wanted to pump their own gas in exchange for saving a few pennies. Pretty soon, the attendants were no longer needed. Also, the process of getting gas at a full service station took about 10-15 minutes, which sadly is considered too long in today's high paced, impatient world.
It's sad--especially considering I don't remember visiting one as a kid growing up in the 70s. Interestingly, all stations in Oregon and New Jersey are considered full service because it's against the law in those two states for customers to pump their own gas.
There is one modern gas station that I've heard of that offers full service the way it used to be: Forrest's Duxler filling station Wilmette, IL. Check it out below!
Do you remember full service gas stations? What kinds of freebies did you make out with?