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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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Full Service: 1950s

Full Service: 1950s

Onalaska, Wisconsin, early 1950s, when full service was the rule. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The Gas Wars

When I was a kid in SoCal (early 1960s) it seemed like there was a gas station on every corner. The cheapest price I can recall is 17.9 cents a gallon, during the "gas wars." My mother would pull up and ask for two dollars' worth. They always checked the oil, looked the belts and hoses and checked the tire pressure. Attendants usually wore uniforms also. Those were the days!

Full service

I remember as a young boy in the 50's my father would go to the Marathon Station on certian days and gas would be on special, 5 gallons for a dollar. Now it's nearer to 1 gallon for 5 dollars.

Nozzle and hose

I remember full service stations from childhood . . . fill it up, check the oil, check tire pressure and clean the windows. Even at today's prices I'd pay a nickel a gallon more for that kind of service. One thing I've noticed in my area is the hoses won't reach around the vehicle and you have to turn yourself around


Time to tell the Arabs GOOBYE and make the nation's only automobile fuel Hydrogen. Government went to the MOON in less than ten years with 1960's technology--hydrogen cars should take much less time...the nation's fate hinges on it. It is IMPERATIVE--NOT OPTIONAL!!

[And how would you make the hydrogen? Volume production requires lots of energy -- generally oil or natural gas. "Goobye" indeed. - Dave]

That'll be 40 cents.

I was listening to an old radio show, and the guy pulled into a gas station. "Fill 'er up" he said. And the attendant said "That'll be 40 cents." Ah, if only I knew those days. The lowest price I remember is $1.20 per gallon.

[I remember my dad complaining in the early '70s when gas hit 50 cents a gallon. Our car had a 30-gallon tank and got around 11 mpg. "Fifteen dollars for a fill-up!" - Dave]


We still get the full service at my local garage, I worked there part time for the last 4 years. At least you feel like you're getting something for you $10+ gallon of fuel! (Scotland)


Some folks still recall the older Flying Red Horse. That internally lit Pegasus would be very valuable if it survived the years. I dimly recall when gasoline hoses were long enough to reach either side of the car... or behind the license plate. 7-Up might be the only food item advertised at the station, but Dolly Madison Ice Cream is nearby.


Plus, if you notice he's not picky about bringing the nozzle over to the other side. Now the surly attendant will motion you to turn your car around.

Fill 'er up

Fill 'er up, Scotty, check the tire pressure, check the oil, check the radiator, and clean the windshield. People are in too much of a hurry these days.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | 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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