News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 19, 2011

MS. TAKES: At least we can dream about days of cheaper gas

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Once again the price of gasoline is flirting with $4 a gallon. If any one thing could trigger memories of the “good old days,” that’s it.

Dad worked for Standard Oil. I’m not sure, but I rather think a gallon of “Dad’s” gas cost around 20 cents. What I am sure of is that a gas station somewhere on the route between Yorkville and Chicago flaunted a sign reading “six gallons for a dollar.”

I’m sure that was less than Standard, because I asked Dad why he didn’t fill up at that station.

Ever the company loyalist, Dad insisted that cheapo gas was just not as good as Standard. He used to say, “Gas is the cheapest thing you put into your car.” I wish Dad were still alive today. Wonder if he would still think the same thing about “cheap gas.” If he had to shell out more than $20 for six gallons of gas at today’s pump prices, I’ll bet he’d take a second look at that “cheap gas” even if it wasn’t as good as his gas.

And it’s not just the cost of gasoline today. It seems to me there has been a considerable decline in service. In the “good old days,” one attendant pumped your gas while another washed your windshield and you stayed high and dry in the car even if it was raining like crazy.

Sometimes Dad’s fill-up would include lollipops for Ed and me.

My Best Friend and I popped in for a fill-up the other day — carefully averting our eyes from the posted price. Our usual procedure is that my BF pumps the gas while I jump out and wash the windshield. But that day it was raining, so I was spared.

The station does have an overhang, so my BF didn’t get drenched, but no attendant dashed out to take over the hose — certainly not TWO attendants — and, you guessed it, no lollipops.

The figures on the pump spun almost too fast to see — the price went up faster than the number of gallons — and we rang up a tab of about $40. Wouldn’t you think they could afford to spring for a couple of lollipops?

Yes, I understand that way back then our oil came out of the ground in Texas or Oklahoma, not Kuwait or Libya or Saudi Arabia or any of the OPEC countries, so it figures that at more than $100 a barrel for the crude stuff — plus shipping and handling — the good old days are filed in the memory bank.

I’ve wondered what became of that “six gallons for a dollar sign.” I’d like to frame it for the family room.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to