The Daily Heller: The Art and Design of Gas

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Once, it was actually fun to get gas (no, not the intestinal kind—though some folks have odd pleasures). These days, what's enjoyable about stopping for gas? There are no attendants to speak of—certainly none wearing white uniforms with the Big Red Texaco Star or even the classic greasy overalls, with names like Butch or Skip on the pocket. The TVs in some of the classier modern pumps don't offer anything worth watching, and the digital readout prices are almost as much as the car itself.

However, I'm still a filling station fan. Especially of the few remaining that do not call themselves Convenience & Deli stores and do not serve frozen sandwiches, turkey jerky and warm beer. For me, the filling station (which began in Europe as pharmacy annexes) should just be for gas, air, oil and lubes. The artifacts below are from when "fill-r-up" meant what it meant, and the bathrooms, oh the bathrooms …were cleaned once a week, whether they needed it or not.

The images fossil fuel gems below come from an Italian book "Gas Station" photographs by Decio Grassi from the collection of Giovanni Paganoni (in 1995 a companion volume, "Gasoline," was published in English).