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Co-op Gas: 1941

Co-op Gas: 1941

August 1941. "Cooperative gas station in Minneapolis, Minnesota." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Massachusetts has a local option

Attendant required to fill tank in the next town over.

Yeah, it's weird. Since only the folks who live there are inexperienced at filling their own tanks. The rest of us come from places where we're trusted to manage on our own. It's a "safety" thing, I guess, like the stickers requiring you to turn off your cellphone while filling, which seem to have disappeared.

The Virginian bride

A plausible candidate for the driver of the car in the Minneapolis gas station in August 1941 with Virginia plates is photographer Post Wolcott. Before the war and rationing FSA photographers drove more than they hopped trains. We know Marion Post had wed Leon Oliver Wolcott by August because her colleague John Vachon reported the news to his wife Penny in a June 27, 1941 letter. Her groom was a deputy director of a section of the Department of Agriculture, and in her 1965 oral history she explained that her marriage came with two children and a farm. Her Smithsonian bio places the farm in Virginia. Before August 1941 was over, her car had reached grain elevators in Minot, North Dakota, dude ranchers in Birney, Montana and a farm family in Laredo, and main street in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Red River Co-op

The full name of the Co-op gas stations and supermarkets in Manitoba is Red River Co-op. Photos below are of Winnipeg, my hometown.


There was a Co-Op gas station in my home town in central Ohio in the 1950s and '60s. It was part of the Farm Bureau agricultural supplies center, which was run as a cooperative with local farmers.

CO-OP ragtop

Wow! All the way from Virginia in a 1941 Buick convertible (rag top).
Probably not many convertibles in Minneapolis due to the short top down season and long northern winters. Pre-war good times.

August 1941

Four more months that pile of tires will be just a memory. All the rubber for the war effort among a host of other sacrifices by Americans and their families.


I remember when they came spiral-wrapped in brown paper.

Fill it Up?

Just think, most people under 40 or so have never had a person come out and fill up their tank at the gas station.* I remember the first time I had to do it myself. It was down south in 1976. We ended up with self-serve up north where I lived a few years later.

[*Unless you live in New Jersey or Oregon. - Dave]

Neon Tower

I'd love to see a night photo of this Moderne gas station, since the tower has lots of neon tubing on it. There is some neon around the overhang as well. Canada has lots of Co-op gas stations, particularly on the Prairies and in the West. Here is a list of Co-op stations on Vancouver Island, with the Canadian term "gas bar" used.

I only know of co-ops in New York City

I thought co-ops were member owned apartments in the Big Apple. Well, they are.

I didn't know about other co-op ventures, like this service station. By the way, if you look by the left shoulder of the attendant, you'll see Walker Mufflers for sale.

I did a search on Walker exhaust and muffler systems, and by golly, they are still in business.

The things you find out here --

Co-Op Doo-Wop

This photo has a very 1950s look to it. I suppose life, fashion, architecture and design in particular, took a break during the '40s while all efforts focused on WWII. Sometimes I wonder how different the 1950s would have been if the war had never taken place.

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