The gas station in my town growing up, at least the one everyone went to, was an Exxon station. It was a hub in the town and for a very long time inspired a brand loyalty in the Exxon brand that still somehow lingers after all these years. Of course, Exxon as a brand is not that old in the grand scheme of things. Like many companies, especially gasoline companies, it has gone through multiple name changes over the years. One that I became acquainted with early one was Esso. Not because ours was an Esso station at some point in history, but because on a frequent route we traveled on day trips to “Upstate” New York, we would pass a decaying Esso station that set my imagination ablaze.
After finding out as much as I could about the brand from my Mother and Grandmother, I even asked the owner of the Exxon station in our town, who happened to be our neighbor. The info was thin, but the largeness of the change and the connection to Standard Oil, a company that appeared frequently in my history books, intrigued me. It was like being able to step into the history book and understand how something we used daily stretched back in time.
What really thrilled me though, was the station itself. It wasn’t overgrown with trees or surrounded by junk. In fact, it was in really good shape. It was just abandoned. Which made me wonder why? Did people stop driving by here? It didn’t seem so, since my family went by at least twice a year. Did the owner pass away? Did illegal things happen there?
I would never find out and at some time in the late nineties, I drove past where the gas station should have been and it was just…gone. All that was left was a concrete pad and the now encroaching tree line. I wonder if nature has now taken it back completely and what drove someone to tear a building down and not replace it with something new. Mysteries on top of mysteries.
I was browsing the internet last night and stumbled upon a site that posts radio commercials and jingles and found this wonderful bit of advertising from 1972 that discusses the change from Esso to Exxon. It is a fun bit of early seventies marketing and their giveaways really take me back to all the gas station ephemera I used to find around my house growing up. Sadly the mysterious Esso station never saw this transition and the insulated white on white Exxon coffee cups promised in this commercial never graced its premises.