One Saturday afternoon in 1956, I pulled up in my parent’s green 1950 turtle-backed Pontiac at the Billups gas station on the corner of Dixie Hwy. & Southern Blvd. in West Palm Beach. I had just gotten my driver’s license. Regular gasoline was 24.9 cents a gallon. The only money I had with me was a handful of quarters I had gleaned from my paper route collections that morning. I knew I needed to have enough left over for a movie at the Florida Theater downtown that night and the obligatory stop-off with my date at the Hut. Ten of the 2-bit ducats let me pump over ten gallons into the tank and I was on my way.
That was sixty-four years ago. Flash forward–yesterday I was on my way to the Post Office here in Palm City when I noticed I was virtually out of gas. No problem … just stop off at the 7-Eleven/Citgo on the way, if I could make it?
Only after putting on my Covid-19 mask and unscrewing the gas filler cap, did I realize I had left my wallet back at the house. The only money I had was the collection of coins that routinely accumulate in the console between my car’s front seats. In this case–six quarters, a nickel, and a few pennies. You should have seen the look on the attendants face when, at the register, I put my cash down on the counter and said: “regular at pump number 9.”
In the short time it took me for my abbreviated fueling experience, two revelations came to mind. First: would I even have enough gas to get to the Post Office and back home, and secondly: how expensive gasoline was back in the good-old days. Yes, that’s what I said, “EXPENSIVE” in 1956.
You probably aren’t aware of it but, when you fill up at the pump these days, you are getting two gallons for the price of one. That’s right, you can get more than two gallons of gasoline for that same quarter that only bought you one at Billups in the good-old days. There’s only one catch … it has to be one of the “same quarters”. check out that 1950’s quarter today … The silver in it alone is worth $4.67. (12/20/20)