Twice The Price Half As Nice
Published: July 8th, 2008
By: Jim Mullen

Twice the price half as nice

What was the lowest price you ever paid for gasoline? When I was 18, I bought gas in Kansas for 23 cents a gallon. It wasn’t a promotion or a gimmick, it was just the price of gas in the late spring of 1968. I only remember it because, even then, it seemed like a ridiculously low price for gas. Sure enough, it soon shot back up to its normal price of 28 cents a gallon. The minimum wage that year was $1.60 an hour.

For 23 cents a gallon, a guy in a uniform came out, pumped the gas, washed all the bug-splattered windows, checked the oil and asked if I wanted the tire pressure checked. I said “No,” and handed him $3 for filling it up. He reached in his pocket and gave me my change.

The gas station was where you went to have your oil changed, your tires fixed, your engine tuned. Now, gas is 4-something dollars a gallon. On a recent trip through Pennsylvania, I had to beg the on-duty attendant in her tiny bulletproof booth to come out and explain how the self-serve pump works because no two pumps in Pennsylvania seem to work alike. They make it like a “Survivor” challenge just to pump gas, except you don’t get a chance of winning a million dollars, just a chance to squirt gas on you shoes. Should I even bother to mention that my windows didn’t get washed?


The Evening Sun

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