In the 1950s the emergence of suburban America led to the boom in automobile travel. This was a time of cheap fuel, before air quality regulations and seat belts. Cars were nowhere as fuel efficient or reliable as the vehicles of today. More than 230,000 service stations dotted the nation. All four corners of many major intersections were occupied by service stations. “Service stations?” The gas station of the 50s was truly a full-service station and puts today’s modern fill & go places to shame. Customer service was a key factor in the success of any service station, and competition was stiff for the 1950s customer.
When you pulled into a service station, your car would usually run over a tiny rubber hose laid across the entrance driveways. A bell would “ding” and as many as four uniformed attendants not only filled your tank, but opened the hood and checked the oil and coolant while others checked tire pressure and washed your car’s windows. At one station, they wiped down the radio antenna.
A trip to the service station was an experience even the kids enjoyed. Some service stations let the young boys “help” fill the tank or check the tires. One chain had trampolines for them to jump on while the parents filled up the family car.
Not only that, but these businesses often provided incentives to get your return business. Some gave out promotional items with a fill-up like drinking glasses imprinted with the company logo. China dishware or cutlery was another incentive. Each time you’d go to the station, you would receive a free bowl, plate or other piece. If you returned often enough, you could amass an entire set of china or flatware. Mostly, the free giveaways were toys, key chains, calendars, Blue Chip stamps or Green trading stamps. (If you are too young to remember trading stamps, it worked like this… with each purchase you made at a participating business you’d receive stamps that were pasted into a book. When you accumulated enough stamps, you could trade them for items in a catalog. This very similar to credit card or frequent flyer points today.)
Free road maps were another giveaway you don’t see anymore, but they were given out as a courtesy in the 1950s. One company in New York even provided an “upside down” map from New York to Florida where south was at the top of the map for easier use by southbound drivers. To keep the customer coming back, some held contests for free fill-ups or offered the chance to win a prize. Some went so far as to give away a new car to a lucky customer!
My own father would drive twenty miles from Orange County, California to buy gas at one of the Parks Texaco stations in Long Beach— all for a chance to win a new Cadillac. Eventually, the Parks stations closed and he has since passed away. He never won the Caddy.
Greetings to everyone, especially my fellow history nerds. It’s September 28th, time for another installment of my Quarter Days blog.
I’m a huge fan of feasting holidays, and much to my surprise, Michaelmas, September 29th, is one of those.
It makes sense though. In every culture where there’s an autumn harvest, there’s an autumn harvest festival, like a Polish Dozynki or a German Oktoberfest. Some sources say that Michaelmas is still celebrated in England with roast goose and other goodies, like this fun Michaelmas dragon bread.
Last June I blogged about Midsummer’s Day, one of the Quarter Day holidays, and pretty self-explanatory. The same is true for this holiday—tomorrow is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, he who battled Satan.
I first encountered a mention of Michaelmas in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and most recently saw a reference in fellow Regency author Caroline Warfield‘s latest release, The Reluctant Wife, where a character must get back to England for the Michaelmas Term at his university. For a historical author, a mention of Michaelmas is a wonderful device for setting the time of the story without citing a specific date.
One blogger claims that St. Michael was popular in Regency England because of the influence of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a late seventeenth-century epic work. Researching this post inspired me to pull out my copy of the Complete Poems and Major Prose of Milton which, to be honest, I haven’t opened since my university days.
Paradise Lost is something of an early paranormal story of nearly invincible beings and shapeshifters:
…the sword of Michael from the Armory of God was giv’n him temper’d so, that neither keen nor solid might resist that edge: it met the sword of Satan with steep force…deep ent’ring sher’d all his right side; then Satan first knew pain…but th’ Ethereal substance clos’d not long divisible…Yet soon he heal’d; for Spirits that live throughout vital in every part not as frail man….cannot but by annihilating die…All Heart they live, all Head, all Eye, all Ear, All Intellect, all Sense, and as they please, they Limb themselves, and color, shape or size assume as likes them best…
And of course, as I mentioned in my June post, Michaelmas was a day to pay rents (possibly in kind, with a fatted goose) to hire and pay servants, and sign contracts.
Do you celebrate Michaelmas? If so, please share in the comments!
Have a magical Michaelmas, and I shall return in three months to talk about the next Quarter Day, Christmas!
Ever since I could hold a microphone, I haven’t stopped telling stories. I used to record fairy tales on an old tape recorder when I was a kid . . . then later I went on to radio doing live commercials, news, voiceovers, interviews, talk radio, etc.
I love to tell stories and add pictures and music.
Which is why I couldn’t resist putting together this 2:00 video about my Kindle Scout book “The Magic Christmas Tree.” Imagine if you could go back to a special Christmas, see family and friends you miss, and change the course of your life . . . and save the man you love from being killed overseas during World War 2.
If you ever wanted to go home again . . . this is the story for you!
A hot, sexy hero, a spunky heroine who tries to save him, and the magic of a small town Christmas . . . and plenty of good food!
So hop aboard the Magic Christmas Train and meet the Arden Family doing their best to support the troops during that Christmas of 1943.
I’d really appreciate your nomination . . . part of the process is getting your book “Hot” and it’s not easy! So any help is much appreciated. Thank you!
Once Upon a Story blog: http://jinabacarr.wordpress.com
In the shade.
It’s been a hot beginning to summer here in SoCal. Perfect time to write . . . or maybe not. It’s hard to think when you’ve got a cold pack on your head, but it’s even harder when you’re writing about Christmas.
Oh, is it. I keep forgetting to put a coat on my heroine or remind her not to forget her gloves. One good thing. The year I’m writing about — 1943 — there was little if any snow in my heroine’s part of the world. Pennsylvania Dutch country. But it was cold. 17 degrees at night. So I fill her up with hot soup — and thank God, coffee wasn’t rationed as much by ’43, but there’ s no hot cocoa. Chocolate went to the servicemen in the form of a D Ration bar — chocolate and filled with vitamins.
The best part about writing this story about a second chance at love via time travel is the love scenes.
Plenty of hot kisses to go around.
So the morale of my little tale is: whether you’re writing about summer or winter, make sure the love scenes are hot!!
Speaking of hot, reenacting the Civil War during the summer months can raise the temps, too, especially if you’re thrust back in time to the Battle of Antietam in 1862.
Like my heroine in LOVE ME FOREVER.
Love Me Forever is a big family saga with lots of angst and sexy heroes…if you like Civil War time travel, two wild, feisty heroines and the men they love, it’s on sale through today, July 11th, for 99 cents!
I’ve worked on this book for a long time…in between other books, always hearing no publisher wants a Civil War book, but I didn’t want to give up on my two feisty heroines and the military men they love…a story that spotlights the women of the Civil War.
I didn’t give up and Love Me Forever was selected as a Kindle Scout Winner!
Family is the theme of LOVE ME FOREVER. Two very different women, Liberty Jordan and Pauletta Sue Buckingham, with different ideas are thrown together in a mad, crazy scheme of spying, lost love, and passionate desire for what they can’t have.
The men they love.
Do they get their men?
Well, it is a romance, but it’s also a wild dramatic journey based on actual events in the Civil War. Liberty and Pauletta Sue will make you cheer, then cry, then hold your breath when it looks like all is lost…
Ends at midnight!