March 23, 2011

Gasoline was less than 30 cents per gallon when many of us starting driving

Question: What was the price per gallon of gasoline when you started driving? If you can remember, what was the year and model of the automobile you first drove?

John Tanner, class of 1960
Gas cost $.19 which in 1958 was the same price of a pack of smokes. It seemed my 1947 Plymouth used as much oil as gas.

David Amster, class of 1963
In 1962 I took my Mom’s 1952 Ford to the station on the corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Jerusalem Avenue, told the guy I was going to drive a long way to Albany to see my girl at college, and asked what should I check on the car. He did a once over, topped off the tank with 25.9 cents a gallon and I was on my way. Yesterday I got gas for a mere $3.45 at Costco and felt it was a good deal.

Bill Stanley, class of 1960
My first car was a two-tone 1953 Mercury. When Bob Bonacci, Bobby Burner, Jimmy Beebe and I drove across the country together, we actually bought gas during, what was called "the gas wars", for 10 cents a gallon.

Walt Linder , class of 1961
I started driving in 1959, when I was 16. On my 16th birthday I was standing at the front door of the Motor Vehicle Bureau in Mineola, when they opened that morning. I had to walk to the Hicksville LIRR station, and ride the train to Mineola. I took driver education from Mr. Peyton, and could drive at night when I was 17.

The gas stations on the corners of Jerusalem Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike had gas for 29 cents a gallon in 1959. They used to have gas wars, and compete for business. My folks' 1954 Chevy used to get gas there all the time. It ('54 Chevy) burned so much oil, I used to buy oil, in bulk, at the Sears store also on the same corner. The oil was on a spigot and came out of the wall.

Howard Whitten, class of 1962
My first car was a 1956, two-tone blue, Chevy Bel Air, the family 'hand-me-down.' I recall the price per gallon was 29.9 cents at the time, and it didn't change all that much right into the early 1970s when it was about 35.9 (in New Jersey). My father always looked for the cheapest gas around and I recall he would usually find it at a small gas station by Meenan Oil on the turnpike down by Island Trees. Couldn't afford insurance and didn't get my license until the spring of my first year of college, 1963.

Karen Biro Hewson, class of 1960
I bought my first car when I was 21, so that was about 1963, not positive, but I think the price of gas was about 23.9. I had a black 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible. I'd love to have it now - but not in the condition it was in then - it ran only on occasion and in the winter I had to warm it up for about 10 minutes before I went anywhere so it wouldn't stall. Ah, the good old days.

Arnie Galeota, class of 1961
I was a late bloomer. I was 18 when I started driving legally, but my first car was a 1957 Pontiac V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor and I was almost 20 when I bought it. Gas was 24.9 I think, not any more than 29.9.

Daria Marusevich, class of 1961
I believe it was 35 cents per gallon in 1965 when I got my license. I lived in the city but I used to drive my father's 1957 Plymouth with push buttons when I came to visit on weekends.

Cliff Fromm, class of 1960
I turned 16 on April 3, 1959 and took my driver's test two weeks later and passed. My parents' friend owned a construction company building one-family homes in Smithtown (and surrounding areas). I worked then and during the previous summers when I was 14 and 15 as a laborer and actually drove the truck, a five-gear standard shift.

By the time I took my driver's test I was an experienced driver (of sorts). To the best of my recollection, I used to gas up when I first got my license at a gas station on Hempstead Turnpike off Jerusalem Avenue and the gas was 26 cents a gallon. I drove my dad's Studebaker.

Susan Weldon, class of 1960
I think the price was 25 cents per gallon. I started driving in 1959. I think the car was a grey Dodge sedan,

Marilyn Monsrud Frese, class of 1963
As far as I can remember, gas was about 28 cents a gallon in 1962. I was driving a 1956 or a 1957 Chevy. Stan Pesner was teaching me how to drive a stick in his 1956 or '57 Chevy, and I loved his car. Thanks Stan- that was so nice of you to teach me in your car. I am still so sorry about grinding your gears. I was happy to get an automatic.

Mark Rotker, class of 1966
My first car was a 1961 Comet that was my brother's before me. Gas was
around 30 cents per gallon and the year was 1967.

Sandy Adams, class of 1960
I remember that the price of gas was 25 cents in 1958 when I got my license. I drove my mother’s peach colored Plymouth with the automatic shift on the dashboard. I didn’t get my own car until a few months after graduation when I got a job at Meadowbrook Bank’s main office in Hempstead – a red & white 1956 Chevy Bel Air.

Michelle Fromm-Lewis, class of 1963
I began driving as soon as I was old enough, which was 16 at the time. I took Driver Ed from Mr. Vandewater, who was also my trig teacher. Our parents had an old Studebaker and a Rambler American which I drove. The Studebaker was both fun and a challenge. Occasionally, when you pressed your foot on the brake the seat would slide back. I would have to hurry and scoot forward to stop the car. Then there was the passenger door which frequently got stuck. I'd have to roll the window down for friends to climb in. I remember putting gas in the cars at 26 cents a gallon.

Frank Barning, class of 1960
The cheapest I remember is Gultane at 24.9 cents per gallon in around 1958 or 1959. I drove a green and white 1955 Mercury with an automatic transmission. My dad, who taught me on a stick, and driver ed teacher Mr. Peyton were patient instructors.

Brenda Baldassare, class of 1960
It was a wow, about 26 cents a gallon, and I actually remember never getting more than a dollar's worth of gas, sometimes only 75 cents if someone coughed up another 25 cents and always at the North Village Green Texaco station. I drove my mother's car, a red and white 1955 Chevy Impala. I got my driver's permit at 16 years old.

My dear father taught me to drive in the Division Avenue Shopping Center on Sundays when all stores were closed so there weren't any cars on the lot. At 17, I got my driver's license and now I was able to drive to the away football games with a crowd of passengers. Most of this insanity occurred in 1959 and then in 1960 when I became a graduate.

Art Dorrmann, class of 1960
I first got my learner's permit in 1958 - but the first time I drove was probably 1955, five years before I graduated from DAHS. My father let me drive our family's '49 Chrysler - it was a tank weighing in at 4650 lbs. After my brief flirtation with the curb became a love affair, he decided someone else would be better suited to teaching me driving skills.

I particularly remember the price of gas because of an incident that took place in the summer of '57. During that summer I went out with a girl from the other side of Levittown (near Levittown Memorial high school) who was about three years older. She had her own car and we used to take drives and park. One evening we ran out of gas - pushed the car into a gas station and pooled our resources to get home - 25 cents was enough for a gallon of gas.

By the end of the summer our romance was over and we never spoke again. She was a sweet girl. After more than 50 years I can't remember her name, but her greatest impact on my life was about five years later. Sadly, I read in the newspaper that she had passed away, at home in her sleep from a cerebral hemorrhage. If anyone has a clue who she was, I'd like to know. I've thought of her many times.

Kathy Stahlman Zinn, class of 1963 .
I started driving in 1966, my fiance's (now husband's) 1966 Rambler Classic. The internet says gas cost an average of 32 cents a gallon. We were in Washington, DC. Does that make a difference?

Dewain Lanfear, class of 1960
In 1965, gas along Hempstead Turnpike was under 30 cents per gallon. That was the year I got my first car, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. It was in rough shape, but with the help of my dad and uncle, I learned to do a lot of work on that car.

John Kinstrey, class of 1961
I’m sure gas was in the low 20s at the time. When I was going to Southern Connecticut State in 1965 it was 33 cents. But what is indelibly etched in my mind is taking my driver’s test in Mineola with Sue Kalinsky’s mother’s car; a '59 Oldsmobile 88. It was a rocket ship about 25 feet long with huge fins – had to parallel park that beast too.


June Johnson said...

In '63,the first car that I had was a '57 Ford Fairlane that my parents gave to me.The stick shift was on the driving column .When that car died, I bought a '56 VW for $50.The gas pedal was a small wheel,there was a choke, and there was no gas gauge. For $1.00 I got a lot of gas and mileage !

Anonymous said...

From Lou Zinser, class of 1966 and 67

In 1965 i worked as a gas attendant for flying A on wantagh ave and hemp turnpike. at the time gas was avg 25 cents. since all four corners at that time had gas stations it seemed like every week there was a gas war. the lowest was 4 cents and i became paul revere for levittown announcing to anyone i could remember to come down to the station. My first car purchased in 65 was a 53 conv. olds 4 barrell. sucked up alot of gas but i was a big sport working at the gas startion. After every gas customer I would drain the hose for the liquid gold. Funny thing about working at the FLYING A i had no idea about cars but that didn't stop Mr. Corpello the owner to designate me the AAA emergency mechanic for late night breakdowns and would pray it just needed a jump start or my second option was to stick a screw driver in the carb to open the choke (had no idea what that did but Mr. C suggested this procedure) if both failed the customer and myself were s---t out of luck.

Kathy said...

It strikes me how emotional cars are, esp. the first experience, and esp. for guys! But then, look how many songs in the 50's and 60's involved cars! Oh, the power, the independence, etc., etc. - fill in the blanks!