The spirit of 76 octane

Bill Quick saw this before I did, and asked: “Remember when filling stations actually filled your tank for you?”

Gas station in Lincoln 1933

For a few days in my adolescence, to help out a friend, I played pump jockey. I wasn’t especially good at it, though I was dead reliable at checking tire pressures.

And yes, E10 was around in those days. (Under that “10% Blend” verbiage: “Development Means Cornbelt Prosperity.”) It never really caught on, and purveyors of the stuff eventually sought antitrust action against Ethyl, manufacturer of another, far nastier, gasoline additive.

Interestingly, this photo was taken in Lincoln, Nebraska in April 1933, eight months before the end of Prohibition. I have to wonder how much of that ethanol was diverted before it got to the gas station.



  1. McGehee »

    21 January 2015 · 7:15 pm

    Last time I had gas pumped for me was almost 20 years ago at Badger Gas on the corner of Badger Road and Peede Road in the area of North Pole, Alaska. That was when the station was brand new.

    According to Google Street View it’s still there, but somehow I doubt they’re still employing pump jockeys.

  2. Tatyana »

    21 January 2015 · 7:40 pm

    In NJ they have a state law (something to do with the Unions, I think) – you never have to get out of the car at their gas stations, the attendants are doing everything for you.
    [except using their M/F facilities, that is…]

  3. CGHill »

    21 January 2015 · 8:45 pm

    A similar law exists in Oregon. Weirdly, I’ve never had to gas up in New Jersey, despite passing through the Garden State half a dozen times on various World Tours.

  4. Roger Green »

    22 January 2015 · 5:31 am

    In NJ, they’ve even washed your windshield, which, for some reason, I love.

  5. fillyjonk »

    22 January 2015 · 5:57 am

    Oh, I love old advertising:

    “Try! CORN ALCOHOL gasoline”

    I wonder why they don’t call it that today?

  6. backwoods conservative »

    22 January 2015 · 6:51 am

    Did Jughead know you were fooling around with Ethyl?

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