I have a pair of interesting staplebound books published by Esso Standard1 in the 1950s and intended for use in classrooms. What better way to indoctrinate fledgling Baby Boomers into the wonders of automobiles and petroleum than to pepper their schools with propaganda?
In the 16-page book, students learn that:
- "Gasoline comes out of the hose into our car."
- "Gasoline is not made at the service station."
And they learn who makes this all happen: Men.
Men. Men. Men.2
"Men use oil to make many things to help us work and play and travel."
Here are two additional illustrations from Esso's "What Makes a Car Go?"...
James Howard Kunstler's worst nightmare.
an oil tanker much like this one will hit a reef off the coast of Alaska and spill hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil, which will turn birds like the ones in this illustration as black as our pet poodle?"
"That's wonderful, Tom. You always did like to work around cars."Tom discovers he doesn't really know everything. At Bart Carlson's service station, he puts on coveralls and learns words like "island"4 and "bay."
"Do you know enough about them to be a helper?"
"Oh, sure, Dad. There's nothing to it."
Tom's sister, Penny, made a face. She said, "Oh, Dad, you should know that Tom knows everything." They all laughed and sat down for supper.3
Tom also learns how to use tools. And watches as Men deliver gasoline and other oil products to the service station.
Tom is left with many wonderful memories, as clearly evidenced by this illustration at the end of the story:
my new Twitter avatar. Thoughts?
1. Esso is an international trade name for ExxonMobil, which is a direct descendant of Standard Oil. Esso stations were widespread in the United States until around 1972. They can still be found throughout the rest of the world.
2. Within the 16 pages, there are 11 references to "men" making this all happen.
3. That scene is an accurate reflection of real family life in the late 1950s. I checked this blog post for historical accuracy by watching an episode of "Leave It to Beaver."
4. "This concrete island keeps cars from bumping into the gasoline pumps," Mr. Carlson explains.