1973 was the year full-service gas stations came to an abrupt end. It stopped ‘snap’ just like that! Swift without any means of restoration to full service. No one could reverse this sudden inconvenience. Gas stations or service stations flipped to a self-service or DIY service.
But first let me explain what full-service gas stations were to those of you who weren’t either paying attention back then or were born after1970 or later. Once upon a time an American motorist was able to easily drive his or her VW bug or Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud into most any corner gas station, drive over the bell-ringing trip hose, then immediately a gas station attendant would rush out to the driver’s side of the vehicle and offer his help. “Fill’er-up” driver might say. Then the attendant would commence to pick up the gasoline nozzle from the gas pump, stick in the gas tank cap opening, and fill your car with the gasoline dealer’s best petrol. All done without the driver ever getting out of the car. Then the attendant would ‘pop’ your car’s hood and check the oil level, radiator water level, and fill up your windshield washer water container. All for the price of a filling. If the oil dipstick indicated low oil, then the attendant could pour in additional oil into the oil cap intake for an additional cost. Usually about fifty-cents per quart back then. I might add when I started driving back in 1960, gasoline per gallon was about 15-cents. But anyway, all the dirty work of filling up and checking oil was done by the red rag carrying and brown uniformed station attendant. It kept our hands clean and the only thing we had to do is give the man cash or a credit card. Those were the days.
My favorite gas station to frequent when living in Honolulu was the station run by JC Penny Price per gallon of gas was about 25-cents at that time. Then on top of that the gas attendants were young high school boys and girls in cute shorts and Hawaiian print polo shirts. I must confess the girls could handle the job as well as the boys. Which to my way of thinking was preferable. Nothing like a cute teen girl with bubble gum breath at the driver’s window asking how she could help.
Then came like an unexpected air raid siren, the bad news. Here came an oil embargo from OPEC. Oil producing Exporting consortium or something like that. It was unabashedly an oil cartel of middle east oil producing nations. In other words, OPEC either cut off all oil exports or a significant percentage. If I recall, the middle east oil producing nations had some disagreement with the American government. Resulting in a man-made oil shortage that ended up in limited gasoline availability. America’s own oil production was limited at that time. Then it induced panic and long lines at gas stations. Cutting profits for big oil companies and their retailers. We consumers had to wait int long lines and sometimes for hours to get to the pump for a few gallons of gas. Some late evenings we had to drive down to our favorite gas station and park our car in line in order to fill it up the next morning. Riding a bicycle became an option. All this went on for many months. Then OPEC decided to lift the embargo. More gas became available but full service never came back. On top of that gas prices at that time doubled or some places tripled. Adding angst to oil anxiety. So goodbye full-service. Hello to inflated prices. But since that time gas prices have fluctuated up and down no matter who was the President in Washington. As a result of all the above, gasoline sales had shifted from the typical gas station over to mostly being sold at convenient stores at a reduced price. Four to six bucks per gallon is a reduced price? Give me a break. Where’s my electric car?