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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • JAMAICA: THE GEM OF THE TROPICS

City Prices: 1940

City Prices: 1940

September 1940. "Grocery store and filling station at Cimarron, Colorado. This is a sheep shipping center." Medium format negative by Russell Lee. View full size.

 
On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Gas War

The 1940 price of gas at 19 cents a gallon may have been outrageous (per Vintagetvs comment below), but I remember passing through an Iowa town on a trip with my dad in about 1960.

Dad told me there was a "Gas War" going on in that town, and that automatically meant we were on the lookout for the lowest price. I spotted a station which had gas at -- are you ready? -- 19 cents a gallon! Wow.

We pulled in, and Dad told the attendant to "fill it." In those days, if you said "fill it," it was expected that the attendant would wash the windshield and check the fluid levels under-the-hood. As the attendant stepped away my dad turned to me, and I'll never forget what he said: "Just watch, at 19 cents a gallon he's not gonna wash the windshield." And sure enough, he didn't.

Germ Processed What?

From the “The Conoco Collector’s Bible” comes the claim that Germ Processing was the first motor oil additive ever used by any oil company. Germ Processing was a special oiliness (polar) additive invented and patented by British scientists Wells and Southcombe in 1918. It was made from castor oil components. In 1934, Conoco developed a synthetic version called GD-160, later called MDS. This was the material referred to as “Oil Plating” on cans and in advertisements. “Germ Processed” itself was oddly chosen as the name of their first motor oil because it was a “germ of an idea.”

Today

The price of gas was outrageous

19 cents adjusted for inflation is $3.35, or roughly the same as today, or even a little more.

 
SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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