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  1. Anonymous
    June 11, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

    Thanks greatly for reading this. Before I tell all of you a little more about myself: I collect automobilia, “petroliana”… antique-magazines & their ads, old vinyl LPs…soda-pop signs (molded-plastic-only)…and funny-animal-humanoid ANY-thing. (Ad-mascots, athletic-mascots, video-games, action-figures, comic-books, &c.)

    Among petroliana: I gravitate most eagerly towards “cabinet-signs” with molded-plastic faces…esp. wall-mounted signs. Even without fluorescent bulbs. I began this collection either in 1977 (with a Shell pump-sign), or in 1986 (with two Standard [Calif./Ky.] Chevrons)…so, by 2006, I have at least one of most of North America’s “pump-island-canopy-signs.” (Including some 30 for sale or trade!)

    Today, the remaining plastic-faced signs that I’m really looking for, were built before the rise of today’s “24-Hr.Food-Marts” after 1980, among the major oil-companies. Plastic “wall-signs”…pump-signs…& all-plastic globes (among the very last globes)…from decades when customers should have considered fuel-economy. Instead, though: they only cared about an engine’s zero-to-60 power in the quarter-mile-drag. These were two decades when Ethyl rose to 30 cents per gallon…and a full-tank sucked a whopping $5.00 to $8.00 out of your wallet or credit-card! When FULL-service was the expected norm at every full-service station—and when major fossil-fuels giants published almost as many manuals & service bulletins as did the “Big Three” and the independents! And when some road-maps…all of ’em free…still had the logos on the inside-corners. (These I’ve collected since age 12, in 1976.)

    Among the 20 to 25 (out of 75-80) brands of plastic “wall-signs,” molded pump-signs, & all-plastic globes, which I don’t have yet: a “Union 76” disc. They had “UNION” underneath the “76” in larger letters, because—according to Earl Welty’s history from 1966, The 76 Bonanza—a customer survey had revealed that motorists still referred to Union Oil as “that 76 company.” The man who ordered the facelift (and maybe the survey, too)? One Fred Hartley, the inventor of “Unicracking” refining; that mid-1950s’ innovation propelled him to the office of corporate C.E.O. (Of course, I’m happy that a fellow logo-designer, Ray Pedersen, had much to do with this facelift!)

    But—these “Union 76” discs are very scarce, and not only because Unocal stopped using them by 1968. (It was replaced by still another logo-facelift; one which, sadly, would replace one of my favorites: Pure Oil.) Unocal used these on all-new, full-service, “ranch-houses.” After another Californian (Shell) experimented with their famous “ranch-house” by 1969…Union 76 chimed-in by 1962. By constructing these before Lady Bird Johnson encouraged oil-companies & fast-food chains to provide “civic-beautification,” in 1966…hey, Unocal won a few municipal awards for civic-beautification! (Remember all those “house” designs, on suburban “strips” and beside the Interstates? Remember how they were among the last full-service stations when the 1970s petro-shortages hit? Well, Lady Bird Johnson was largely responsible for the idea—during the high horesepower & oil-companies’ price-wars of 1966!) Anyway, I’m now looking for just such a “Union 76” plastic “wall-disc” anyplace. Even without the bulbs or metal-frame of a cabinet-sign! Does any member of ths “blog-site” have any leads on old, Unocal warehouses?
    Cabinet-sign companies out West? Or any swap-meet booth at any “gas bash”?

    I don’t collect automobilia and petroliana because I work for either a car/truck agency or a “24-Hr. Food-Mart.” Neither am I an employee or retiree of either a vehicle-manufacturer, or of an oil-company. Oh, I have very great respect for them. (Although not for either Detroit or for the fossil-fuels companies, these days. Their decisions are not the reason why most roadside-Americana-collectors love their stuff…any more than R-rated, assembly-line, teenage-guy-comedies are the reason why “anthro-furry fandom” collect[s] animation-licensed memorabilia.) More about my career—and my hopes to become both an auto-designer and an animator, later on. Without a driver’s license…but with a birth-autism, Epilepsy, and a mental-illness…stuck here in rural, Appalachian, small-town Alabama…this career, my volunteer-work, and Christ’s love–all keep me goin’. (So do my hopes to get outta rural, Appalachian Alabama…for an Art Institute!)

    Naturally, then, this Disney-type character-designer is just as pleased as you are, that Bill Griffith has included these “76” balls as one of his topics! SURE wish that other, Fantagraphics-published, writer-artists (esp. two adult, funny-animal-cartoonists: Michael Kazaleh…originally from Dearborn, Mich., Ford country, before he became an animator…and Milton Knight, Jr.)…other cartoonists who have the “courage” to include nudity, adult gags, & profanities…had the courage to say what “Zippy” has said!

    Finally—aren’t you grateful for people like these two creators of this Internet “blog-site”? As strongly as this Christian, political progressive/liberal (and what’s “evil” about that word?) feels about various topics—I’d be able to neither organize nor manage a Web-site (at this stage in my life) NEARLY as well as these two can. Have one other trivia query about the famous “meatballs,” few days or weeks from now. Also hope to have some updates about our counterpart to the “76” balls, but east of the Great Plains: the Pure Oil Company’s “cottages” and efforts to preserve them, here-&-there. THANK you ALL for putting-up with me!

    Happy Father’s Day,
    Michael Shepherd Studio
    Ephesians 2: 8-10


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