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Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station HCDJ Book

Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station HCDJ Book

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If you are a fan of the early gas stations, this is a MUST HAVE book! This hard cover from 1994 is titled...

Pump and Circumstance: Glory Days of the Gas Station

There is just a little wear to the edges of the dust jacket from reading and re-shelving, but no tears. INSIDE, there is a gift inscription from a son to their father on the first blank page, and I couldn't find any more writing. Even back in 1994 the book retailed for $29.95. Has 125 pages.

The author, John Margolies is the ideal tour guide through the ephemera of the American roadside. Bookshelves seem to be bursting with this far-from-scholarly but endearing genre of architectural publishing, and Margolies's pictorial look at the American gas station is a solid addition. Using postcards, his own contemporary photographs, and archival material from a number of petroleum companies, the author offers a bouncy look at a steadily changing highway icon. The spare text is full of tidbits of gasoline retailing lore and its evolution from the homey, early stations through slick industrial modern to the stripped-down self-service outlets of today. But it is the often surprising, occasionally nostalgic images of gas stations, retailing schemes, service station attire, and even road map designs that form this book

Margolies organizes his material within five chapters: Pump and Circumstance (signage); Pioneer Days (road maps); Golden Age: 1920-1940 (Pop Architecture, Aircraft, Razzmatazz: Kid Stuff, Believe it or Not!, Razzmatazz: That's Entertainment!, and Deco Moderne); "Going, Going...: 1940-1965 (Razzmatazz: Postwar Frolics, Porcelain Enamel, restrooms, and Razzmatazz: The Best of the Best; and Back to the Future: 1965-1990. The book is filled with superb illustrations (the best of which being archival photographs) and the text is based on a wealth of primary sources. Chapter 3 was especially interesting to me because it examines (with some of the best graphics in the book) various gas station architectures which include the Gulf Lighthouse Service Station (Miami Beach, FL), windmill-shaped buildings (Saint Cloud, MN), shell-shaped Shell gas stations (Winston-Salem, NC), the B-17 "Bomber Gas Station" (the plane installed above the pumps in Milwaukee, WI), "Bob's Airmail Service Station" built around a 32-passenger Fokker plane (Los Angeles, CA), and a zepplin-shaped building grounded beside the Pennzoil pumps (near Pittsburgh, PA). Photographs of most of these facilities are included, accompanied by brief but informative commentaries.

I highly recommend this book (as well as Ticket to Paradise) to those who share my interest in icons such as the gas station. Its evolution has been inextricably involved in the cultural history of the United States.

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