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What’s Wrong With This Gas Station? Signal Oil Company Images

This set of photos were taken for the Signal Gas and Oil Company in 1934, apparently for an in-house campaign to show Signal Gasoline station attendants how poor working habits annoy customers and damage their vehicles. Each of the three images demonstrates instances of messy and careless practices that can scratch painted and chrome-plated surfaces and also allow dirt to get into the consumers motor oil.

The cars in the pictures appear to be a 1933 Plymouth five-window coupe above, and below a 1933 Chevrolet two-door sedan. Signal gasoline was the Company’s high-test fuel, and the Peerless blend was the lower-priced unleaded alternative.

Tell us what you find of interest in this set of images. You can view over two-hundred other Gasoline Station related photos posted here in earlier articles. The photographs are courtesy of the USC Libraries.


21 responses to “What’s Wrong With This Gas Station? Signal Oil Company Images

  1. 1st pic, gas hose laying on the ground, sitting on the customers bumper tallying up the charges, #2, lazy attendant, should be helping, and last, cars weren’t these objects of beauty then, nicks and scrapes were part of driving and there was nothing wrong with resting an oil dispenser on the fender, although, I probably wouldn’t do that with the customer right there. Sure seems like the water and air hoses were highly used as much as the gas hose.

  2. As a Mobil station gas pump jockey in 1950 we learned all the niceties of seving ourcustomers. We washed windshields, checked air in tires, swept out the the drivers floor mat, cheked waterand oil and tried to sell them a Top Cylinder lubricant for their engines. The competition between oil companies was vicious, and good service sold gas. I can still hear tha ding dong of the air hose bell as a car drove to the pumps. Funny too, in those days we never received tips. It was not the custom. Sadly, now it’s all serve yourself.

    • Yup, when you heard that “ding, ding” you jumped! I probably worked in five or six different stations in high school & college (early ’60’s) and like Dave said, never received a tip.

      • I recall in ’72 or so, going to visit mom’s folks in Pompano, and working at the local gas station where my same-aged uncle worked so we could spend more time together. We DID get tipped; a fair amount of travelers / tourists had no problem in giving more than the change-back to a 15YO hard worker. Also recall checking someone’s oil and not remembering where the darned dipstick came out! Was actually a great job; came home and worked at another.

  3. How about the fact in picture three the customer is doing the tire pressure and air, not the attendant. Also in picture one it looks like the gasoline hose is carelessly flopped on top of the engine bay.

  4. In the top photo they are putting gas in the radiator, they have a lot of hazardous junk lying around the pumps, some of which looks flammable (that rag sticking out of the side of the pump seems rather unwise), one attendant is sitting on the front bumper and using the fender as a writing desk, while the other is lounging up against the side of the car wile adding oil, which could possibly cause the finish to be scratched by a belt buckle or other object on his person.
    In the middle photo you’ve got an attendant not paying attention while he’s pumping gas (looking at his phone?), and another putting handprints, smudge marks and scuffs on the headlight and bumper, and the hose lying on the ground is a trip hazard.
    In the bottom picture, there is a loose gas hose with the nozzle end on the ground picking up dirt to pump into the next customer’s tank, one attendant’s foot is on the rear bumper while the other attendant has the oil can resting directly on the fender where it will scratch and mar the finish, and they are making the owner fill his own tire like they do nowadays. Other than that, I don’t see any problems at all.

    • One may be led to think that the hose directing water thru a nozzle of some sort into the radiator, and if you look under the car a gas pump nozzle can be seen laying on its side. Behind the nozzle can be seen a light-colored gasoline hose that reappears on the right next to the Ethyl pump, and apparently was attached to another gas pump.

  5. I worked in a Texaco SS for about a year, and though I did not receive much training, we were pretty aware of the do’s and don’t s in customer service. We did have a lot of return ‘clients’, probably a result of our fairly good work ethic and friendly approach. You can still find this and more in gas stands here in Japan, at least in the non-self service places. All windows washed, a damp cloth provided to wipe the insides of your car windows, dash, etc., emptying of trash, washing of floor mats, an escort out on to the street (waiting or stopping oncoming cars), a long bow as you leave and generally friendly attendants. Sadly, much of that is going away with the increases in self serve stands. And yeah, I can still hear the air hose bell as well!

  6. Well one thing that was nice ,was that there was gravel under the car so that spilled gas and oil would run nicely under ground to keep the station nice and clean! (:-)

  7. Can’t add any more to those astute observations except to I.D. the sedan as a 1933 Chevy Master (Eagle series) Town Sedan with integral trunk, and a snappy two tone paint job. Must have been an upscale model that year. For 1933, Chevrolet also offered a slightly smaller model line of some body styles, the Mercury series, that is commonly referred to as Standard.

  8. In first pic that jerk with the oil can has his foot on the fender. I had guy put his foot on the top of my model A fender then turn and really scratch a nice round spot in the paint. Every time I drive by that station I remember how mad I was in 1955.

  9. Whats wrong with the customer looking into the car in the 1st photo?
    Only thing I can think of is maybe him getting in the way might be a safety hazard.
    Also interesting that the company’s econo grade of gas was unleaded.

  10. These “put-up ” (seriously, folks!!!) “scenarios”— look to me like : ” Stills” from Oil Company Training Sessions , usually utilized by Oil Company “District Rep’s (Travelling Representatives) whose job it was — to make each Oil Company’s “Service to the Public” be both: ” Responsible and Uniform”. The “Jam – Handy Company sold 35 mm slide projectors with a small screen (part of the box-lid) and screened labels between subjects — so the Co. Rep. or Station Owner could train Employees. So did: The “Picture-phone” Company, — by providing a Box with : Screen , Projector, — 35 MM slides , manually advanced , — when a “cue -beep” sounded, — to turn the Slides – Advance Knob , — It came from the (4 Vacuum tubes) Audio Amplifier — that played a voice and/or Music “program” from an “assembled ” 78 RPM turntable for records. It also had an early Phono. pickup that required screw–in steel phonograph needles. These two companies provided most of these “Portable Training Aid Stations” for applications in all walks of Automotive activities: Factory Assembly, Wholesale Distribution Centers, Dealers, Mechanics and Service Stations. The “Programs” were either: |Fundamental or Sophisticated, depending upon the audience. The Service Island “slides” shown, — are fundamental and obvious. Edwin W

  11. RE: Gas station service:
    I definitely remember being coached extensively and to watch during my initiation training sessions at my brother`s small Richfield gas station and garage on Bass Lake Rd. (222) at The Old Corral store, cafe, cabins and service station in Oakhurst, CA circa 1958. Our outlook was to be customer conscious. A proper greeting, order request and promptness. We ALWAYS cleaned the windshield and rear window while the auto shut off (on fill ups) of the gas hose did its reliable job. Or keeping an eye on the pump dials for the requested dollar amount. Oil check, radiator check (if not under high pressure), tire pressure check all around. Unless in a hurry, the driver would use the stop time to visit the clean rest room and maybe buy a soda on typical hot summer day. I was quickly advanced to top dog of the little “island“. I kept it swept clean, driveway bell working, and made sure we had real window cleaner, bug sponge squeegees and proper paper towels at both ends of the island. Pumps and oil displays, station`s front windows and little office had to be sparkling and properly stocked with popular canned or bulk oil bottles. Pennzoil, and good house brand in popular viscosities were stocked. Proper change making (or only gas co. credit cards back then) and counting the change or receipt with the customer had to be done carefully and quickly. Clean shirt, trousers and sometimes a cap with shined work shoes were standard. No shaggy hair or beard. Only a pocket tire pressure gauge, ball point pen in shirt pocket and a clean rag could be folded in back pocket, never a greasy dirty rag hanging out of one`s pocket. No belt buckle type of belt was used. No cleaning tools, buckets or hoses draped across the walking areas. We had water and air hose windup reels at each end of the island. No smoking! We always got nice return customers and vacationers would stop in on their way back home too. Tips were not uncommon, especially if the car needed a little extra attention like a sweepout of the driver`s floor mat , emptying ash trays or other small trash for the car or truck. We frequently checked lights front and rear if the customer asked or we noticed a problem at night. We always had at least one real mechanic available for consultation for assistance on a possible problem or if that is what the customer really came in to discuss. That was our real profit making business, engine oil changes, chassis lubes and tune-ups, tire repairs, new tires, batteries and under hood or chassis services. The garage out back could do welding, engine rebuilding, brake service, suspension work, tire balancing, and trailer hitch repairs, wiring troubleshooting, etc, I haven`t seen complete service station island “service“ in decades except for multi-attendant service in Tokyo in the 1990s. Very snappy and super nice there, but usually only gasoline services, no service garage on same premises.

  12. in 1971, late, ( for the New ’72 Products), as an Automotive Technical Instructor For The Porsche-Audi-Volkswagen Pacific Distributorship, one of my “Yearly Duties” was to conduct a “New Product Awareness” Class for all of the 22 Porsche – Audi Dealerships of So. California, Arizona, Nevada & Hawaii : I scanned the Audience – and in the back was: George Trevitt , Service Manager who (formerly) owned & operated : “Norman’s Automotive “, (where I began my “formal “Automotive Mechanic’s experience, by scraping Valve Cover Gaskets for the Line Mechanics. ” Anything from 2 to 18 Wheels! , both Foreign & Domestic , &Truck Fleet(s) Service were all performed. Gradually , My Mechanical skills were discovered and I was integrated into Servicing & Overhauling. I began the Intro. to the presentation with five minutes devoted to the VALUE of a job during High School & Junior College and I gave major credit to whom it was due (George) — and then — I t was my turn to Instruct 55 people In Product Awareness and set aside 15 minutes for a “Q & A” Session, and be able to accurately & responsibly respond. Thanks, George!!! (We didn’t lie, steal, cheat nor fake anything . Honest work , honest money, and a dedicated Return Customer Base) . All of the Gas Stations in my neighborhood were also Service Stations , or they were soon out of business!!! (Atwater Village , Los Angeles, USP Zone 39, Calif.) Edwin W.

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