save the 76 ball
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.
If you've been wondering, like we have, what's become of the 76 Balls that are being pulled down from their poles, here's where one of them is: being auctioned on eBay! The seller says it was removed from a Bakersfield race track two years ago. And of course if you win, you have to pick it up.
The Save the 76 Ball made some new friends in the media yesterday. Check out the podcast of petition writers Nathan and Kim in the last ten minutes of the BBC's Up All Night Blog show, the Daily Telegraph article, and the piece in the deliciously-named Convenience Store/Petroleum Daily News.
We're closing in on 900 signatures on the petition. Will it hit 1000 by the weekend?
Phil Goldwhite, official designer of the Save the 76 Ball campaign, has created a handy business-card-sized PDF file that 76 fans can download and print out. This card reminds station owners that the ball is a prime reason we buy our gas from them, and warns "lose the ball and you lose this customer!"
Also available: a card to give to gas stations that have lost their ball, explaining why they've lost your business.
A couple of days ago, I was interviewed on Dori Monson's KIRO Seattle radio show about the Save The 76 Ball petition campaign. Hundreds of Dori's listeners have rallied to sign the petition, including Dori himself (thanks!). But the most extraordinary thing to come from this interview was an email I received from Ray Pedersen, a man with a very personal relationship to the 76 Ball. Well, let's let him tell you about it himself:
Kim: It's a small world. A friend of mine and fellow alumni of The Art Center School of Pasadena told me you were on a program the other day and sent me this info on you. I am the guy who was creative director in 1955 on the Union Oil account for Young and Rubican Advertising in L.A. I designed the ball for the Seattle World Fair (their SkyRide) and it was so stunning that Fred Hartley wanted it done for all Union Oil Stations. He called it "Pedersen's Balls." It was much fun. I had a small one made so it would just fit in my Beechcraft Bonanza and we went all over the country shooting beautiful scenes and put the ball up on a pole and what do you know?.... a gas station in front of the magnificent Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, San Francisco Bay Bridge, etc.
Here is a snap of me getting the ball ready at the Grand Canyon location.
Save my ball! (have a housefull plus a basketball with the logo)
Stay tuned for more from Ray, who is still creatively active at 80, and off to Iceland to brand glacial water for Icelandia PLC!