"The Energy Crisis"
Carroll County Times Article for 7 February 1999
I recently filled up my minivan with gasoline, a unremarkable event to say the least.
Twenty-five years ago, however, I could not have have done so because the nation was in
the painful throes of the "Energy Crisis". Nearly every week, the local press
carried front page news stories about the crisis and there were frequent editorials about
causes and solutions. My clearest memory of the crisis involved driving to Frederick,
waiting an hour for 10 gallons of gas and feeling proud of my accomplishment.
This newspaper carried two stories about the crisis in the February 14, 1974 issue of the paper under the headline of "Shortages Bring Hard Times To Station Owners". The first story, "Rival's Closing Brings Frowns" described the impending closing of the Gulf station in Manchester:
|"When Ken Gerst's Gulf
station closes at the end of the month the competition at Manchester's two remaining
service station's won't be smiling. "It's going to be terrible for the rest of
us." said Mobil station operator Leon Miller. "We simply don't have enough gas
to take care of his customers." Speaking about the problems he and BP station owner
Donald Rhoten will encounter next month. Miller said, "We've got to come up with
5,000 gallons apiece and we haven't got it." "It's going to ruin me,"
Rhoten said of Gerst's closing. "What am I going to do? With half of my allotment I
can't take care of his (customers) and mine both. No way," said the Main street BP
dealer whose been selling gas in Manchester for 25 years. The second story bore an
astonishing title by today's standards, "Gas Available By Appointment". It
described how a Westminster station owner was handling the fuel shortage:
"As gas supplies dwindle,
service stations may go the way of the doctor's office and the beauty parlor-customers by
appointment only. Marion Wilson who owns a Sunoco station in Westminster, began Tuesday
morning to turn away customers who had not arranged in advance to come and get their gas.
By Tuesday afternoon Wilson had filled two and a half pages in a little notebook with
names of customers who would be served then or Wednesday. Anyone who just drives up to the
pumps and asks for gas has to copy the station's phone number from an "appointment
only" sign and then call in his order. "People come to me and they're ready to
fight," Wilson said, waving a cigar in his right hand. Last weekend cars were backed
up for about two blocks on each side of his station waiting for fillups, but not all of
the drivers got what they wanted. "I was filling my regular customers up and anybody
I didn't know got a dollar's worth," Wilson told a visitor."
The February 14th issue of the Carroll County Times also carried an editorial about the crisis and urged local citizens to contact their legislators:
Legislators Should Hear Energy
|Fortunately, the energy crisis
eventually eased and the gas lines and closed stations were a thing of the past. Gone,
however, were the notions that there would always be cheap unlimited gasoline and that
Americans did not want small fuel-efficient foreign cars.
Return to "Carroll's Yesteryears" 1999 Index