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The former Daily Statesman is now The Dexter Statesman and currently does not have an operating website.

Gas stories from the Past

Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at 11:08 PM

The high price of gas seems to be the main topic of concern these days, and I thought it might be nice to have a bigger forum on the topic. I've been trying to remember what the prices were when I was a kid, cruising the streets of Dexter in our 1953 Ford station wagon. (Yeah, pretty cool, huh?) Around and around the Pig we'd go, with the fan belt screeching and the car full of girls.. Wow, we were really in the big time!

I looked it up, and according to at least one website, I was probably paying about 31 cents per gallon back then, and, as my good friend Goat Lady points out, that's about $2.19 by modern standards.

I don't know how many of you remember what gas was when you were young, but I asked my good friend, 93-year-old Paul Corbin, to share some of his gas memories from the past. The man is amazing, absolutely amazing. Those of you who get the North Stoddard Countian have probably enjoyed his bi-weekly columns and can attest to the impressiveness of his memory.

Here are some of his observations:

"Back in 1926 my father was driving a 1924 Model T and paying eleven cents per gallon for his gas. Oil was ten cents per quart. Back then you just about had to buy in even gallons of gas, because it was pumped up into a glass cylinder with markings that showed the number of gallons. Dad always complained about the price of 11 cents. He said, "If they would make it ten cents, then I could pump up five gallons, and the fifty cents worth would last me for nearly a month!"

Well, that 11-cent price didn't last long. By 1928 the price of gas went up to 15 cents, and the price of corn went down to 10 cents per bushel. This time Dad said, "They should have made that darn Ford so it would burn corncobs!"

With gas selling at the outrageous price of 15 cents a gallon, he drove that beautiful Model T out under the shade of the big sycamore tree, and that was the end of his driving career.

I bought my first vehicle in 1937. At that time you could still buy gas with pocket change. It was a common practice to pull into a station and buy 50 or 75 cents worth of gas at 18 cents per gallon, but the stations got tired of handling nothing but quarters and half dollars, so most of them ran a special price of six gallons for one dollar. This saved the customer 8 cents, and the stations were taking in folding money."

Of course, Paul Corbin remembered the gas rationing of World War II and the accompanying gas stamps. If you didn't have a stamp, you didn't get the gas!

Maybe I can find a photo of our old green Ford to post tomorrow night... In the meantime, feel free to post your car/gas stories from the past...(I'll be right back...)

Showing comments in chronological order
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When I was growing up we always bought our gas at "Hurlus's" (Cox's Grocery). Seems to me that it was always in the 20-29 cent range, unless they were having a "gas war" and then it would go down.

We lived at Hurlus's! Mom would drive up to the gas pumps, Hurlus would come out of the store smoking his cigar and Mom would say, "$10, Hurlus!"

I'd go in and snake one of those sodas out of that machine where you put your money in and slid the soda, and my brother would go to the "ice house" and get a bag of ice.

Marilyn would slice us a pound of Krey balogna and we'd be on our way again...until maybe later in the day.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 7:17 AM

When I lived in St. Louis in the very early seventies. I worked in a car wash, and we gave a free car wash with a sale of eight gallons or more of gas.

The Price of gas then was 26.9 cents per gallon.

-- Posted by mythought on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 8:37 AM

I remember gas was cheaper before...but I don't remember the price...was it 89 cents? I do remember, however, as I've posted before, that the day I graduated high school (May 23, 1999), gas was 99 cents per gallon. That seemed high then. Heck, prices weren't much different than they were then a couple years ago...yet we paid $2.79 a gallon. When I managed Casey's (that ended April 19, 2007), my lowest price was $1.89. It's amazing what a difference a year makes...and why is it gas could be SO low a year ago...but not now? Oh, how I miss filling up my truck for $15. My dad has some doosies too. He was born in the 40's, and remembers what my grandpa and uncle used to pay for diesel in their big trucks. Now, my husband spends over $4 a gallon, no matter where he goes. Thank God he's a company man and not an owner operator like my grandpa and uncle were.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 9:23 AM

I remember we lived in Indiana when my wife and I first married. Coming home through Cairo, we would stop at the bridge and buy gas for $.27 a gallon, buy a nickel bar of candy a 10 cent soda and head to Pemiscot County. You could fill-up for less than $5.00. Please Lord, bring back some of the good old days memories.

-- Posted by changedname on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 10:09 AM

Back before we moved to Missouri in '91, I'd always schedule my gas stops in Missouri when driving from California or New Mexico to Illinois and back. It seems that gas prices have always been lower in Missouri. In fact I remember noticing that back in '77 on my way to my first year in Bible college in Rock Island, Illinois. We bought gas in St. Louis, but I can't remember how much it was.

-- Posted by swift on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 3:35 PM

Mom and Dad always talked about the rationing of gas and tires during WWII, and the unavailability of silk stockings, but I don't remember exactly how it all went.

Why didn't we TAKE NOTES??? We should have known we'd want to know these things, after our parents were gone!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 6:02 PM

Well it seems like most people during the gas rationing recieved an "A" sticker. Which only allowed them 3 or 4 gallons of gas a WEEK.

If it happens again and that's all the gas I can get, I better start planning a little better. Making sure I don't forget anything, and do everything I need to do while I'm in town.

I can't imagine it. But back then cars really weren't used for as much as they are today. People then were lucky if they had one vehicle. These days some people have 2 or 3 a piece.

I looked in my daughter's baby book, in 2001 when she was born, gas was $0.97 a gallon. I could fill our little 4 cylinder up for under $20. Not anymore, I put in $10 and don't even get 3 gallons.

-- Posted by sc1120 on Fri, May 16, 2008, at 12:29 AM

Just prior to the great OPEC oil embargo that ended forever "cheap" gas in the U.S., I ran out of gas and discovered I'd forgotten my wallet. I scrounged around and found 10 cents under the car seat, so I "filled her up" with a dime worth of gas. It was enough to get me home across town.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Fri, May 16, 2008, at 7:13 PM

Just prior to the great OPEC oil embargo that ended forever "cheap" gas in the U.S., I ran out of gas and discovered I'd forgotten my wallet. I scrounged around and found 10 cents under the car seat, so I "filled her up" with a dime worth of gas. It was enough to get me home across town.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Fri, May 16, 2008, at 7:13 PM

When I was in high school gas was about 20-25 cents a gallon. One girl had a car. We'd turn our pockets out and pool all our money to buy her gas. Most of the time we had between $1.50 and $2.00. We got a lot of cruisin' out of that money. With us it wasn't the Pig, it was the Tastee Freeze.

This weekend I gassed up my little 4 cylinder Subaru and dropped $39.50 for not quite a full tank of gas. Ouch.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, May 19, 2008, at 1:05 PM

Ah, to be cruisin' with the Beach Boys blasting and cheap gas in the tank!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, May 19, 2008, at 8:39 PM

Ducky, dear, I wish I could get a tank of gas for $39.50! My Jeep has taken close to $60 to fill up - and now the gas in my town is up to $3.86...ACK!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, May 22, 2008, at 6:09 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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