Picture of the day - May 17, 2005

Antique Gas Pumps - Freedom, WY

Antique Gas Pumps
Photo courtesy of Scott Dommin. 

In Freedom, Wyoming, there stands a long-closed gas station, complete with a pair of antique gas pumps... a scene that is fairly common all across the heartland of America. Today's picture features those old gas pumps, standing tall and proud as symbols of America in simpler times.

When I was a young child, gasoline was available in two varieties: regular and hi-test. When you pulled up at the pump, a friendly attendant would walk right up to your window and ask what you needed. You would say something like "Three dollars worth of hi-test please."

He would pump it for you, and that $3 worth of gas usually came pretty close to filling up the tank (those antique gas pumps didn't even have the capability of pricing gas at more than 99 cents per gallon!). He would then walk back to your window and take your money. You could drive away without ever exiting your vehicle!

In times past, gas stations were just that - they sold gas... and they even pumped it for you (and they cleaned your windshield and checked your oil while you waited). Those establishments didn't sell lottery tickets, alcoholic beverages or clothing. And they certainly didn't sell groceries. While most of them also had a mechanic on duty who could fix a flat tire, replace a fan belt, or charge a battery, by and large they simply pumped gas!

My, how times have changed! The dark, greasy gas stations with pin-up calendars on the walls have been replaced by what we like to call "convenience stores". There isn't a mechanic anywhere in sight, but if you need milk and eggs or a phone card you're in business.

Nowadays, you can still buy gasoline on most any street corner in America, but you'll probably have to pump it yourself and take out a short-term loan at the bank to pay for it. And if your car happens to break down in the parking lot, you had better have your cell phone handy so you can call a wrecker. All in the name of progress...

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