Friday, May 23, 2008

Ding Ding!

This week I have noticed a number of traffic counters deployed on various thoroughfares around Parker, Colorado. I am not sure why the counts are occurring, but I have to assume that a study is underway for planning which roads may need upgrades. These counting devices consist of a pressure hose stretched across the roadway and every time a set of tires rolls over it, a counter is incremented.

This got me thinking about another pressure hose device that used to be very common. Back when gasoline was purchased at a "service station" (they actually pumped your gas and performed other maintenance checks), there was a pressure hose across the vehicle paths that was connected to a loud bell. When a car entered the pump area, a loud "ding ding" was heard, notifying employees that a customer had arrived. I don't remember when the last time I encountered one of those was, but it has to be years, maybe even decades ago. Still, the sound is indelibly written into my memory to the point that I would instantly recognize it if I heard it today.

This makes one think . . . how many of today's adult drivers have no recollection of this once-familiar sound? Many people cannot remember a time when the station personnel pumped gasoline, checked fluid levels and tire pressure, washed the windows, and wore uniforms with the oil company's logo on their shirts. For that matter, how many people now driving remember gasoline selling for less than 35 cents per gallon?

One other thing provided free by service stations were roadmaps. One thing I have always loved is maps, and as a young kid, I was always glad when I could pick up a new road map at a service station.

Speaking of gas stations, I recall that the more expensive gas used to be called "High-Test" or "Ethyl". I believe Ethyl Corporation made an additive that boosted octane. However, it contained lead, and was eventually phased out of motor fuels. Every brand of gasoline tried hard to differentiate its product from the competition. There was Texaco's Fire Chief and Sky Chief brands. Super Shell with the mysterious additive "TCP" was also available. I remember my dad joking that TCP stood for a "TeaCup of Phillips". Phillips 66 future merger partner used the slogan, "Conoco! Hottest Brand Going!" Many other brands have been merged out of existence, such as Skelly, Apco, D-X, Gulf, and Sohio/Boron. Humble, Esso, Enco, and others were rebranded Exxon. Cities Service is now Citgo. Atlantic and Richfield became Arco, and now is part of BP if memory serves. More obscure brands included Gibble Gas, Hess, Fina, Pure, and Clarke.

Ding Ding!

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