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Stations, Brands and Advertising, NW PA
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Stations, Brands and Advertising, NW Pa.

In 1920 the Oil Creek Refining Co. built an octagon station in Titusville which did business for 35 years. Socony-Vacuum took it over soon after construction and operated until it was demolished in 1955, when Socony-Vacuum opened another location. The octagon building was one of the first “super-stations” in the U.S. and was considered a landmark in its time. Besides its unusual shape it had a preposterous red bulb atop the chimney which rose to the peak of the pyramidal red tiled roof (Titusville Herald, 1955). It had a lavish interior with white pine woodwork.

Titusville-Oil City and environs had at least fifteen stations selling and advertising individual brands of gasoline by 1940 (or before) and during and right after WW II. The brands were Atlantic, Conseco, Socony-Vacuum, Hi-Test Tydol, Uncle Sam, Koolmotor, Silencer, Penn Drake, Quaker State, Sinclair, Wolf’s Head, Cities Service, Emblem, Pennzoil, Sunoco, and probably more. The Mobil name appeared there in the 1940’s and Keystone in the 1950’s.

Uncle Sam Gasoline

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This July 20, 1928, ad in the Titusville Herald newspaper promoted the brand’s patriotic name.

Among the brands sold in NW Pennsylvania UNCLE SAM stood out by its advertising, and the fact that the brand was sold in 25 stations in the oil territory around Titusville and the circling oil region. Consolidated Service Stations Company of Titusville was the distributor until bought by Crew Levick Refining Company in 1929. The ads for the brand showed Uncle Sam playing baseball (he was at bat). A luxury sedan is in the background, drawn by an artist using the pen name of Aphrodite and signed as such.

The Tide Water Oil Co. gasoline brand was Tydol, and it was sold in Titusville by the City Hall Garage. This hi-test gas was emerald green. Of course they also sold Tide Water’s motor oil which was called Veedol. In 1929 Tide Water advertised that famous aviators like Eddie Stinson, Martin Jensen, Amelia Earhart, Commander Byrd, Clarence Chamberlin and others used Veedol motor oil. The company made special mention that “Martin Jensen broke the world’s record for solo endurance flying with this motor car gasoline” (Tydol).

Runbaugh’s Mobil service station in Titusville advertised in 1947 “We Give and Redeem S&H Green Stamps” and advised the readers to LISTEN TO BENNY GOODMAN on the Socony-Vacuum radio program. Remember him? A clarinetist with a big band.

Cities Service stations were particularly prevalent in NW Pennsylvania probably because the Crew Levick refinery in Titusville was a subsidiary of Cities. A Crew Levick motor oil brand was Koolmotor, but Cities Service also used their own name as a brand for gasoline. Malone’s West End Station in Titusville put out Cities Service ads reminding motorists in the late 1930’s that road maps were available at the station. Cities Service ran a Touring Bureau, but World War II (1941) soon put a stringent limit on motoring and rationing of gasoline became very strict due to demand for oil products by the war industry and on the two military fronts.

Crew Levick Company

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This motor oil and gasoline ad in the August 22, 1934 issue of the Titusville Herald was drawn somewhat in the cartoon style with speech boxes. The theme plays heavily on the historic background of Cities Service and their Crew Levick refinery in Titusville. The dictionary explains that gasoline can also be spelled gasolene, as Cities has done, but that spelling is unusual nowadays. As with other major brands, Cities sponsored a NBC radio concert program and calls attention to the hour and radio stations in the ad.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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