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CO-OP GAS: 1942

CO-OP GAS: 1942

May 1942. "Cooperative gas station at Greenbelt, Maryland, a model community planned by the Suburban Division of the U.S. Resettlement Administration." 4x5 inch acetate negative by Marjory Collins for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Tuned Up

Oh for the days when we could work on our own cars!

[Back when cars needed to be worked on. - Dave]

Keeping it reel

The Greenbelt Theater on the poster is now the Old Greenbelt Theater, owned by the city. In addition to hosting community events, it plays a few first run movies as well as classics like Casablanca, the Wizard of Oz and the Breakfast Club (?!?).

Greenbelt Theater

The station in 1938

Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.

Historic claim

The Sunoco station at 161 Centerway in Greenbelt is the direct descendant of what Collins photographed, though it's no longer a co-op. Today's owners, Greenbelt natives, bought the place in 1984.

The historic image on their website seems to have been shot from the roof of the building in the Collins photograph. The building has clearly been replaced, but it's at the same address. (The switch from Sinclair to Sunoco gas could have happened any number of ways, given the oil companies' complicated histories.)

Stone's eye view

I'm not 100% sure this is the same location, but it seems to be the same type of pump (with the addition of globes in the interim). The location isn't as rustic as one might expect ... i.e. less greenbelty.

City Cousin

Altho it's but a footnote to the main photo, the Co-Op(erative) movement was central to Greenbelt, at least in the early years. It might take some explaining to those of tender years - in a gross simplification I would describe it as an effort to put some of the hippy-dippy ideas of the 1930's (and later) on a more business footing - but the name, and Double-conifer symbol are likely familiar to their elders. (Anyway, this particular example was at 36th/Telegraph. One of three in Oakland, we know from past Shorpy excursions that they were a potential launching site for roadway mayhem.)

That Sinclair pump brings a memory.

When I turned sixteen and passed my driver test I looked for any excuse to take the car for a ride. I found a good way to go for a ride was to check the fuel level in the family buggy and if it was a little low report my finding to one of my parents. Usually I was given two dollars and told to get a couple bucks worth at the store. The store was a Sinclair station and little country store. Two bucks would buy almost half a tank. It was only a four mile round trip but satisfied my need for seat time and my parents didn’t have to stop for gas on the short trips we usually made.

Cross-Promotion at the Pump

That poster made me realize I need an extra ten cents worth of ethyl -- enough to get downtown to the Greenbelt Theatre to see that Joe E. Brown movie ...

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