Pivotal corner, Part II
By RODNEY HATLE, NRAHS
(Part Two of two parts.)
The business in this snapshot was full-service for its time 80 years ago: one gravity-feed gas pump and one electric, one kerosene gravity pump (hidden at left), an air hose for tires (center), a can of water for radiators (at right), and an earthen pit for changing oil (covered at right). The all-important out-house was out of sight behind.
You drove in, an attendant arrived with a smile and a question, and you requested a number of gallons or said, “Fill ‘er up with regular.” At 11 cents per gallon of gas, you could sit and watch the windshield get washed, the oil and radiator checked, and maybe a tire kicked for inspection. You’d hand over some money, the attendant went in and came out with your change.
Or the process might be to pay inside and buy a candy bar and/or soda pop for a nickel each, listen to weather talk, endure a joke and repartee, and then be on your way. During the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s you paid less than 20 cents per gallon, average.
Background for gasoline price averages: “...
1930 10 cents, 1940 11 cents, 1950 18 cents, 1960 25 cents, 1970 36 cents, 1980 $1.19, 1990 $1.34, 2000 about $2.50, 2013 $3.80.”
Furthermore, “In 1940 the average income per year was $1,725 and by 1949 it was $2,950. In 1940 the average cost of a new car was $850 and by 1949 it was $1,420.” (from “The Changing Prices of stuff in 80 years...”(For clarity and accuracy we check on inflation adjustments and other variables over the years.) www.thepeoplehistory.com/70yearsofpricechange.html.
“...inflation adjusted terms [explain that] the first low occurred in 1931 as nominal [official] prices fell from 30 cents a gallon in 1920 to 17 cents in 1931.” (from “Inflation Adjusted Gasoline Prices, 2017”)
“Thus, in 11 years prices fell 43%. But we have to remember that 1931 was the beginning of the Great Depression, and overall prices fell 24% during the same period.
“...gasoline prices fell much more than prices in general. It is interesting that in January 2016 prices for gasoline on an inflation adjusted basis are actually much lower than they were during The Depression. For the remainder of the 1930s, inflation adjusted prices rose to the equivalent of $3.35, then they declined. The rise in inflation adjusted prices is actually due to overall deflation, making the adjusted price look higher even though the nominal price remained the same. And then in 1938, the nominal price rose to 20 cents a gallon, and the inflation adjusted price hit $3.35 again.”
Back to the picture: This, or a similar one, was made into a glass slide and shown as advertising with maybe a dozen others before the feature film at Faust Movie Theater.
Two flood lights enabled service at night. A sign on the window gave his telephone number in case of emergency. When time permitted, the owner joined kids playing ball in the open area.
The proprietor in this picture managed his business from 1936 to 1942 at which time he entered the United States military during World War Two. Upon return, with leg wounds, Clair Hatle didn’t resume but instead bought an up-to-date service station in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
This service business seems to have opened about 1932 with D.P. (Dallas) Moon as operator. Moon came to town in 1923 as the catcher for a pitcher newly hired by the New Richland Red Sox baseball team. Dallas and Agnes Moon went to California in 1936.
The corner site survived with sporadic open business for a few years during WW II and after. Previous to that, property records of 1932 to 1934 have it listed as belonging to Continental Oil Company, and perhaps others as it changed hands quickly. Soon it became Sam Hanson Properties for several decades.
The small Pure Oil gas station immediately south was rebuilt larger in 1945. The one to its north was replaced in the early 1950s with a building that wasn’t much bigger.
Was it the 1960s when the larger structure was put up? Was Apco that business? A recent Star Eagle “Looking Back” feature for 1967 contains this: “Have snow bucket – will travel. Will clean out any driveway. Just call Mert’s Apco, corner of 30 and 13...”.
What have been the business names, and who have been the owners or managers since then and up to Donna and Gordon Hanson who had owned New Richland One Stop since 1984?
New Richland Area Historical Society is interested to know that part of the history. Let us know what you know about any of the service stations in town.
Historical background: It’s a considerable coincidence that at this very intersection of highways 13 and 30 is the junction of four original 160-acre sections of farmland:
Section 16 to the northeast, Section 17 to the northwest, Section 20 to the southwest, and Section 21 to the southeast.
That was of course established by surveyors. This part of Minnesota was opened for settlement in the 1850s. The Homestead Act of 1862 was the next legislation. Then, when in 1877 the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad built its line and helped to establish new communities such as New Richland, towns were platted for streets and building lots.
For this, the farmland acreage designations were separated into very small parcels. Original or early acreage landowner names were used to denote various residential sections. For New Richland, three of these are McLane, Welles, and Zeiger.