Gas stations and cars

By Terry Economy | Apr 16, 2011

During the spring of 1946, life became back to normal for the citizens of Rockland. World War II had come to a end on Sept. 6, 1945, most of our veterans had returned home to get on with their new lives, the retail stores were restocked with items that were scarce during the war, and the first new automobiles since late 1941 were on display at local dealer showrooms.

I remember one day I was on my way from my Prescott Street home to our family store, Economy's Fruit on Park Street, where on the corner of Union and Park Street at Waldoboro Garage, a new 1946 Ford appeared in the showroom. I was so intrigued with seeing a brand new automobile, I stepped into the showroom to look it over when manager Fred Lenekin, who was a regular customer of Economy's Fruit, came over and spoke to me "what do you think young fellow?" Even though I was only 11 years old, in my early youth I took interest in pre-World War II automobiles.

"It looks just like the 1942 model," I said.

"Say, you're right," Lenekin said, a surprised look on his face.

In the fall of 1941, auto manufacturers produced a few of what they called 1942 models. And they ceased producing at the end of the year to concentrate in converting to World War II vehicles.

By the way, if you're wondering how much the new 1946 Ford was, it priced at $750.

At the end of 1946, new automobiles and trucks were selling in record numbers all over the country and for a while this caused shortages in some makes and models. In 1941, new car buyers had choices of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto, Ford and Mercury. In 1949, Hudson, Packard, Studebaker, Lincoln, Crosely, Willys Jeeps, Kiezer and Frazier models were added to the above.

In 1947, because of sales of new vehicles, a new era in gasoline stations became available with the emphasis on service. In 1942, there were 22 gasoline outlets in Rockland. In 1947, there was 27 outlets, an increase of only five stations. At most stations, the personnel wore long sleeve shirts with bow ties. After filling up at 15 cents a gallon or 10 gallons for $1, your windshield was cleaned, you were asked if you wanted your oil checked and if your tires were low in pressure, they would tend to that.

The gas stations were well lighted at night and the rest rooms always were clean. Gasoline brands that were available in 1949 were Amaco, Gulf, Tidewater, Texaco, Esso, Shell, Sunoco, Mobil, and Calso.

Most gasoline station owners took pride in their work and were popular members in the Rockland community. I had the opportunity to know many of them through Economy's Fruit and during my adult years and new career at WRKD, they became advertising clients of mine.

Terry Economy was born in Rockland. He graduated from Rockland High School and has had a long career in broadcasting, and is a member of the Maine Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

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