Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gas Station

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook an image of an old monthly gasoline bill (the receipt part--I'd paid the bill!) from Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio, now BP). The date was January 31, 1968. The receipt had tumbled out of a book we were preparing to sell on our "store" on ABE (link to our site). It had been a bookmark, I guess, that had slid down among the pages over the years. And disappeared.

In January 1968 I was in my second year of teaching at the Aurora (Ohio) Middle School. Seventh grade English--or "Language Arts" as we hopefully called the course. I was still pretty much clueless about teaching, but I already knew that I loved it. I would not retire (for the final time--l retired once, went back to it) until the spring of 2011.

Anyway, that receipt brought back all sorts of memories. When I was a kid, growing up in Oklahoma and Texas (1944-1956), Dad pretty much stuck to two brands of gasoline: Texaco and Phillips 66. Everything else was, well, just not good enough, you know? When we made one of our western treks to Oregon to visit Dad's family, we sometimes had to settle for less--especially if there was something interesting near the station, like that Sinclair one in Mitchell, South Dakota. A sight/site like that was well worth a compromise.

When we moved to (tiny) Hiram, Ohio, in August 1956 (Dad would teach at Hiram College for ten years), Phillips 66 and Texaco were not around. But on the southeast corner of the intersection of Ohio 82 and Ohio 700 (right across from the Hiram Christian Church) sat a Sohio station, and that became our default stop for ten years. And I used Sohio pretty much exclusively until gas became so expensive that I had to ... shop around.

The lowest price I can recall is 28 cents/gal. I remember once, in high school, a friend stopped his car and put in 8 cents' worth. It got him home.

Oh, and there was no self-serv.

Sohio had a "License Plate Jackpot" now and then (was it only in the summer?): Each station would post in its front window a LONG list of lucky plate numbers. (Ours, as I recall, was never among them.)

When I began my teaching career in Aurora, my Sohio usage continued: There was a station on Ohio 82, the northeast corner at the intersection of Ohio 306. (It's gone now.) I patronized it pretty exclusively, except when I was on a trip somewhere. They also serviced my car--thus the quaint (vanishing) name "service station."

So ... about that receipt. I see the current charges were $16. For a month of gas. I was driving then a real gas-guzzler, too: a 1967 Chevy Chevelle SS (275 hp, four-on-the-floor). As I said on Facebook, I was getting probably 5 mpg. My Twinsburg apartment was five miles away, and still, in an entire month, I spent only $16.

The previous month--$43.38--is no doubt due (as I said on FB) to a trip I'd made out to Des Moines, Iowa (700 miles each way), to see my folks at Christmas. They had moved from Hiram to Iowa in the summer of 1966 to begin their careers at Drake University, whose president at the time, Dr. Paul F. Sharp, was a long-time friend (he and his wife, Rose, had known my parents since college days), had urged them to come join him at Drake. They did. And loved it.

So ... memories from a monthly gasoline bill.

Just one more: The book in which that receipt had lain for nearly half a century was my copy of Joyce's Ulysses, a book I'd been assigned to read in 1965 at Hiram College. I hadn't, uh, quite finished it, so I was apparently trying to do so when I bogged down again, quickly looked for a bookmark, found one, courtesy of Sohio.

PS--I did finish (another copy) much later. So there!

my old copy

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