On October 28, the intrepid J. Eric Freedner made a fascinating discovery...
"This may make Kim sad and Earl mad, but I found Swain Sign Installers on 5th Street in Ontario, CA late this afternoon. Here's what I saw: New 76 "hubcap" signs ready to go. Ironically, an old orange 76 sign (flat style) can be seen from the alley, across I-10 Freeway. Rows of new ConocoPhillips 76 price signs, all in crates. This is definitely the source of the new signs! Whether Swain makes them on site or just gets them in and only installs them, I do not know. Another view of the new 76 signs... And now the sad stuff... An old 76 ball, broken into pieces and stuffed into a big roll-off, awaits a final trip to the dump! This is the only one I saw at Swain's - none stored at the yard - so I guess they break them up as they come in and have them hauled away? At least I caught up with this before the sun went down. What can I say, other than sometimes preserving gas history is a bit painful?"
Everyone wants to know what's happening with the 76 Balls that are removed from their poles. Are they stored in a big warehouse? Turned into birdhouses or novelty boats?
Well, based on clues we're getting from petroliana enthusiasts and sign historians, the answer is much more chilling. The balls are almost certainly being shattered, because there is no further use seen for them. One source even suggests that ConocoPhillips is requiring station owners to document the 76 Ball's destruction with photographs.
Why won't anyone at ConocoPhillips discuss this matter with the mainstream press reporters who are calling them? Are they afraid that when we find out what's really happening to our beloved 76 Ball, they won't be able to contain our rage?
They should be.