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The Old Rotating Gulf Sign Downtown


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I got a nice letter today from the daughter of the man who built the Gulf sign that used to be on the Gulf building. Amazingly, the company is still in business and doing stuff that you would recognize every day like the Metro bus shelters and the Dynegy sign. There's even a picture of the old Gulf sign on their web site. Pretty neat.

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The Gulf lollipop! I love it.

gulf.jpg

That sucker was huge :o .

There needs to be a museum for these sorts of relics - the Gulf sign, the throbbing, er, blinking ball atop the Continental building, the Indians atop Bill Williams :P , plus relics of by-gone Houston commerce such as Cheek-Neal's Maxwell House Coffee, Duncan's Admiration Coffee, Magnolia's Wamba Coffee, the various beers that have been brewed here, etc.

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The Gulf lollipop! I love it.

http://www.houstonian.freeservers.com/hist...1-1945/gulf.jpg

That sucker was huge :o .

There needs to be a museum for these sorts of relics - the Gulf sign, the throbbing, er, blinking ball atop the Continental building, the Indians atop Bill Williams :P , plus relics of by-gone Houston commerce such as Cheek-Neal's Maxwell House Coffee, Duncan's Admiration Coffee, Magnolia's Wamba Coffee, the various beers that have been brewed here, etc.

It now is a part of some barn somewhere in Texas. That about the extent of knowledge that anyone has of its whereabouts

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I worked for Gulf for a year from '67-'68. The very first day on the job, there were bad storms in Houston and reports of tornados. Some of us from the reproduction department went up on the roof to check it out, so I got to see the sign up close.

It was pretty neat, but what struck me was the bad smell on the roof. I looked around and noticed numerous dead birds. The only thing I could figure is that they died from flying into the sign.

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The Gulf lollipop! I love it.

gulf.jpg

That sucker was huge :o .

There needs to be a museum for these sorts of relics - the Gulf sign, the throbbing, er, blinking ball atop the Continental building, the Indians atop Bill Williams :P , plus relics of by-gone Houston commerce such as Cheek-Neal's Maxwell House Coffee, Duncan's Admiration Coffee, Magnolia's Wamba Coffee, the various beers that have been brewed here, etc.

In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes ever made by an advertising agency was when Gulf ran a slogan that called its fuel: "The Gas With Guts".

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I remember a while back someone proposed putting up alot of the old neon signs that have since been removed along a stretch of Shepard Drive around Alabama. I think there was a rotating piano that was at H&H Music on the SW Freeway, the weather ball, the Gulf sign [even though it was 8 stories tall!] and a few others. They wanted to get a variance from the city since it's illegal to have rotating and blinking signs anymore. I never heard anything else about it...

B)

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  • 8 months later...
I remember sitting in class at Austin High school on Dumble watching the Gulf sign and wishing I was anywhere but in class.

Over here, there is now starting to be some consistency and a little less confusion. Here's the way that I've understood the chronological sequence. Gulf became Chevron as a result of a merger. Then Chevron merged with Texaco. Then Texaco merged with Shell.

Now over here, the Texaco stations changed their name to Shell. But some of the Conoco stations are now Texaco. Now I've noticed that what used to be Chevron stations are now Shell. How can Texaco now be at those former Conoco stations if Shell bought it out? Now, it's consistent if all of the former Chevron and Texaco stations all become Shell. What were Diamond Shamrock stations are now called Valero.

Is something similar to all of this happening in Houston?

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Over here, there is now starting to be some consistency and a little less confusion. Here's the way that I've understood the chronological sequence. Gulf became Chevron as a result of a merger. Then Chevron merged with Texaco. Then Texaco merged with Shell.

Now over here, the Texaco stations changed their name to Shell. But some of the Conoco stations are now Texaco. Now I've noticed that what used to be Chevron stations are now Shell. How can Texaco now be at those former Conoco stations if Shell bought it out? Now, it's consistent if all of the former Chevron and Texaco stations all become Shell. What were Diamond Shamrock stations are now called Valero.

Is something similar to all of this happening in Houston?

I think you are a little confused as we all are :wacko:

highlights of an old chron article

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=2004_3745009

Since early 2002, Texaco has been in a sort of limbo after exclusive rights were acquired by Shell Oil Products and Motiva, a joint supply venture between Shell and Saudi Refining.

These rights were acquired when the Federal Trade Commission decided they must be divested as a condition to the October 2001 merger between Chevron and Texaco.

But on June 30, the exclusivity of Shell's rights will expire, and on July 1, 2006, ChevronTexaco regains exclusive rights to the Texaco brand. Shell decided that splitting its effort between two brands wouldn't work.

Consequently, Shell embarked on one of the most ambitious rebranding efforts ever. In the Houston area, about 270 Texaco stations have seen their red signs replaced by the yellow Shell insignia

Nationwide, some 4,600 Texaco stations have thus far been rebranded to Shell with about 2,400 left to do, Herring said. Also, 323,000 Texaco credit cards have been "migrated" to the Shell brand.

There may be some Texaco stations in Houston and across the nation currently supplied by Shell that will have until the end of June 2006 to convert, Herring said.

This means that in certain parts of the country, Shell and ChevronTexaco are in head-to-head competition to sign up stations. ChevronTexaco isn't interested in having company-owned stations, Woertz said.

and then you have ConocoPhillips:

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=2003_3616184

http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive....id=2006_4122872

www.savethe76ball.com

163809226_382cde45e6_o.jpg99581930_22dc03efae_o.jpg

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Excellent research, Gnu! It's simply too difficult for non-business people like me to understand and keep up with all of these mergers which result in name changes. I've recently noticed over here that what used to be Bank Ones are now Chase.

Getting back to gasoline. Previously on the Howard Johnson's topic I wrote about what I heard was the reason for motel/hotel chains changing their logos to ones that are plain, less aesthetically-appealing, and less eye-catching. It seems that's what now happening to places where you buy gasoline. You no longer see the Union 76 orange ball, the Texaco star, the Gulf orange disc, the Conoco triangle, the Phillips 66 highway sign, the Sinclair dinosaur, etc.

The reasons I heard for motels/hotels is that nowadays most people make advance reservations. So they know exactly where they're going. They haven't been driving on the highway all day, hungry and tired, and need an eye-catching logo to make them decide to pull into a place and stay for the night there. Now, I wonder why gas station's logos are no longer eye-catching?

Yes, the days when the gasoline brand names were acronyms:

TEXACO-Texas Company

CONOCO--Continental Oil Company

ARCO--Atlantic Richfield Company (this was formerly SINCLAIR)

AMOCO--American Oil Company

If I left any out, feel free to post them.

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How....flatulent.

I completely forgot about the merger between Exxon and Mobil. Why didn't they become one name like Shell, Valero, etc.? On the same street in the town that I live in, there a convenience store that sell Mobil and another one that sells Exxon.

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UNOCAL--Union Oil Company of California

BP--British Petroleum

ESSO--"S.O."--Standard Oil

Exxon--Mixture of ESSO and the "double cross company"

Pennzoil--merger of South Penn Oil and Zapata Oil

Saudi Aramco--Saudi Arabia bought a california company called ARabian AMerican oil COmpany

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UNOCAL--Union Oil Company of California

BP--British Petroleum

ESSO--"S.O."--Standard Oil

Exxon--Mixture of ESSO and the "double cross company"

Pennzoil--merger of South Penn Oil and Zapata Oil

Saudi Aramco--Saudi Arabia bought a california company called ARabian AMerican oil COmpany

Now you've made me remember something else. Back in the 1960s while riding around with my parents, I would see ENCO gas stations here in Texas. On some weekends when we would go over to Lake Charles or Lafayette, Louisiana, those stations were called ESSO. Was there some reason for their having different names in different states?

But when that company became EXXON, they were all the same no matter what state they were in.

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UNOCAL--Union Oil Company of California

BP--British Petroleum

ESSO--"S.O."--Standard Oil

Exxon--Mixture of ESSO and the "double cross company"

Pennzoil--merger of South Penn Oil and Zapata Oil

Saudi Aramco--Saudi Arabia bought a california company called ARabian AMerican oil COmpany

I think ESSO was actually Eastern States Standard Oil. Before that it was known as Standard Oil of New Jersey. Now we know it as the Exxon part of ExxonMobil.

I remember when I was young there was also Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio) stations. These were both the remnants of the Standard Oil breakup, which also formed:

Sohio - Standard Oil of Ohio, which was bought by BP

Stanolind - Standard Oil of Indiana, which became Amoco (American Oil Company) and was also eaten by BP.

Socony - Standard Oil of New York, which became Mobil, and is now part of ExxonMobil.

Standard's Atlantic and Richfield oil merged to become Arco. West coast operations were eaten by BP. East coast operations are now Sunoco.

Kyso - Standard Oil of Kentucky, eaten by Standard Oil of California, now Chevron.

Conoco - Continental Oil Company, now part of ConocoPhillips.

The Ohio Oil Company, we know it as Marathon Oil.

ARCO--Atlantic Richfield Company (this was formerly SINCLAIR)

Sinclair is still out there. I don't know if it's owned by Arco, or is independent, but they are the dominant company in the upper midwest, esepcially in the Dakotas and Wyoming. I saw a Sinclair station in northern Minnestoa just a couple of weeks ago. Best oil company mascot ever.

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Now you've made me remember something else. Back in the 1960s while riding around with my parents, I would see ENCO gas stations here in Texas. On some weekends when we would go over to Lake Charles or Lafayette, Louisiana, those stations were called ESSO. Was there some reason for their having different names in different states?

But when that company became EXXON, they were all the same no matter what state they were in.

After the Standard Oil Spin-off (anti-trust 1911) some states black-balled the use of the Esso name and in those states they used the Enco name. In 1973, Esso, Enco and Humble became Exxon.

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Socony - Standard Oil of New York, which became Mobil, and is now part of ExxonMobil.

I remember Magnolia filling stations before they became Mobil. In fact, when I was a little kid and we traveled to Dallas, I would always look for the big flying red horse on top of the Magnolia Building to see how soon I could spot it before we got there. Wonder where Magnolia Oil fits in here?

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I remember Magnolia filling stations before they became Mobil. In fact, when I was a little kid and we traveled to Dallas, I would always look for the big flying red horse on top of the Magnolia Building to see how soon I could spot it before we got there. Wonder where Magnolia Oil fits in here?

Magnolia Petroleum was originally the John Sealy Company (of Galveston fame) which handled the processing of much of the Spindletop oil. Magnolia got bought by Socony-Vacuum and eventually merged with Socony-Mobil Oil Company. By 1959 it was just called Mobil Oil Company.

Edited by Lowbrow
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After the Standard Oil Spin-off (anti-trust 1911) some states black-balled the use of the Esso name and in those states they used the Enco name. In 1973, Esso, Enco and Humble became Exxon.

Yes, not only not, but it was confusing back in the 1960s. In Texas, the sign in front of the station said ENCO. In Louisiana, the sign in front of the station said ESSO. But at both of the, the word HUMBLE was on the front of the building.

But there's something else I've always wondered: Is there any real difference in the brands of gasoline? Do any of us really care if we pull into an EXXON, SHELL, VALERO, etc. All we know is is that our vehicle needs gas, and when the needle on the gas gauge points to "E," that that doesn't mean "ENOUGH."

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Yeah the Humble thing had to go... it was an image that they had a hard time selling across america, although they tried. Hard to be aggressive with a name like Humble.

The whole station name and fuel supplier connection is rather complicated and something of a hoax. That being said I totally buy into that hoax. My car is super sensitive to the type of fuel I put in it. 92 Octane is the bare minimum. I almost always hit Exxon or Shell for thier detergents. I've had bad knocking from both Diamond Shamrock and Texaco in the past. Although I have also used Costco without incident. :)

Edited by Lowbrow
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Yeah the Humble thing had to go... it was an image that they had a hard time selling across america, although they tried. Hard to be aggressive with a name like Humble.

The whole station name and fuel supplier connection is rather complicated and something of a hoax. That being said I totally buy into that hoax. My car is super sensitive to the type of fuel I put in it. 92 Octane is the bare minimum. I almost always hit Exxon or Shell for thier detergents. I've had bad knocking from both Diamond Shamrock and Texaco in the past. Although I have also used Costco without incident. :)

I thought that Costco was a pharmacy. Maybe I have the name confused with some other company. Yes, I personally believe that brand-name gasolines (Shell, Exxon, etc.) are OK. It's the ones that have no brand-name (RaceTrac/RaceWay, and some convenience stores that have no names on the pumps) that I've heard can cause a vehicle problems. The last gas that I put gas in my car was Valero, the time before that was Conoco. Since my car needs a fuel filter, I can't tell any difference if different brands affect my car's performance. When I get the money to have a new fuel filter installed, maybe then I'll notice a difference.

Yes, I remember Mobil's Pegasus logo. And also Enco/Esso's slogan: "Put A Tiger In Your Tank."

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Yeah the Humble thing had to go... it was an image that they had a hard time selling across america, although they tried. Hard to be aggressive with a name like Humble.

The whole station name and fuel supplier connection is rather complicated and something of a hoax. That being said I totally buy into that hoax. My car is super sensitive to the type of fuel I put in it. 92 Octane is the bare minimum. I almost always hit Exxon or Shell for thier detergents. I've had bad knocking from both Diamond Shamrock and Texaco in the past. Although I have also used Costco without incident. :)

This was covered in another thread. The base gasoline is pretty much all the same, but each major company has patented detergents that they add to the mix. When I drove my Boxster, I bought into the hype, with nothing but ExxonMobil or Shell premium gas. Now, my Toyota pickup runs on anything. I could put muddy water in it if I wanted to, and it would still run.

Valero is the largest refiner in the country, so their gas is pretty consistent. Never had any problems with it. The independent convenience stores are where you may run into problems with bad gas or water in the underground tanks.

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I completely forgot about the merger between Exxon and Mobil. Why didn't they become one name like Shell, Valero, etc.? On the same street in the town that I live in, there a convenience store that sell Mobil and another one that sells Exxon.

Most Mobil's(atleast the two arround me) have a "service station" you can get emissions test's, oil changes and "tune up's." Exxon i believe atleast most modern stores sell gas and snacks. Often gas is 7-10cents higher than the stores down the street. The full service Mobil station on Southmore and Richey sells' unleaded gas 3.34 a gallon and that's for regular! This is the only FULL SERVICE station i have seen this century!

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Most Mobil's(atleast the two arround me) have a "service station" you can get emissions test's, oil changes and "tune up's." Exxon i believe atleast most modern stores sell gas and snacks. Often gas is 7-10cents higher than the stores down the street. The full service Mobil station on Southmore and Richey sells' unleaded gas 3.34 a gallon and that's for regular! This is the only FULL SERVICE station i have seen this century!

There's a Chevron full service station down the street from me. They perform state vehicle inspections and they sell new tires (a brand that I've never heard of). I don't know if in due time it will become a Shell like most of the Chevrons and Texacos in this area.

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I'm surprised there wasn't alot of uproar when they put that sign on the (what is now) Chase Bank Building. I'm sure the art/architecture lovers of the city were appauled when a big ugly orange 'Gulf' sign was plopped on top of the "Wedding Cake Building".

It's like putting a huge billboard on the side of the Chryslar Building.

I also find it very Ironic how the city has such a strict sign ordinence against certain things, yet look at our Freeways.

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I'm surprised there wasn't alot of uproar when they put that sign on the (what is now) Chase Bank Building. I'm sure the art/architecture lovers of the city were appauled when a big ugly orange 'Gulf' sign was plopped on top of the "Wedding Cake Building".

It's like putting a huge billboard on the side of the Chryslar Building.

I also find it very Ironic how the city has such a strict sign ordinence against certain things, yet look at our Freeways.

I drove down 225 in pasadena....I counted about 10 billboard in a few miles. Damn CBS and Viacom!

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I'm surprised there wasn't alot of uproar when they put that sign on the (what is now) Chase Bank Building. I'm sure the art/architecture lovers of the city were appauled when a big ugly orange 'Gulf' sign was plopped on top of the "Wedding Cake Building".

It's like putting a huge billboard on the side of the Chryslar Building.

I also find it very Ironic how the city has such a strict sign ordinence against certain things, yet look at our Freeways.

You know, I think at the time the sign was put up large building signs were common, so perhaps no one gave it much thought. It doesn't seem to have become an issue until the 1970s, when a lot of the signs had to be turned off to save energy.

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Most Mobil's(atleast the two arround me) have a "service station" you can get emissions test's, oil changes and "tune up's." Exxon i believe atleast most modern stores sell gas and snacks. Often gas is 7-10cents higher than the stores down the street. The full service Mobil station on Southmore and Richey sells' unleaded gas 3.34 a gallon and that's for regular! This is the only FULL SERVICE station i have seen this century!

Head to New Jersey. It's one of the states where it is ILLEGAL to pump your own gas. All of the stations are full-service, and surprisingly New Jersey tends to have the lowest gas prices in the nation.

In a previous life I used to have to commute across the onion fields of Orange County, New York to get to work. One day I stopped for gas and got yelled at by the station manager. I didn't realize that I'd accidentally crossed into New Jersey a few feet and he had to pump the gas for me.

There are a lot of strange rules when it comes to marketing fuel in New Jersey. My favorite one is the fact that giveaways and contests are also illegal. So when Hess runs a TV commericals where you get a toy or something "with a minimum eight gallon purchase" in the New York market, you can go to any Hess station in New Jersey and just ask for the toy and they have to give it to you for free.

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The Gulf lollipop! I love it.

gulf.jpg

That sucker was huge :o .

There needs to be a museum for these sorts of relics - the Gulf sign, the throbbing, er, blinking ball atop the Continental building, the Indians atop Bill Williams :P , plus relics of by-gone Houston commerce such as Cheek-Neal's Maxwell House Coffee, Duncan's Admiration Coffee, Magnolia's Wamba Coffee, the various beers that have been brewed here, etc.

At one time many years ago, didn't Gulf have a slogan that went something like: "Look for the orange disc"?

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I remember Enco/Esso's (now Exxon) slogan: "Put A Tiger In Your Tank". At least that didn't sound as bad as Gulf's.

Now I just remembered something else when I was a kid. Over here there were gas stations that had no brand name. The neon sign in front of the stations was a hand with a finger pointing downward and the word "GAS" inside the hand. Some signs said Open 24 Hours under it. There were several over here, but they've been gone for many years. Were there any of those in Houston?

There are still some convenience stores over here that sell gas that doesn't have a brand name, such as E-Z Mart.

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  • 1 year later...
At one time many years ago, didn't Gulf have a slogan that went something like: "Look for the orange disc"?

Yes, it did. And there was another time when Gulf came up with a stupid, failed slogan which went something like this: "Gulf...the gas with guts."

Now admit it. Doesn't that sound just plain stupid? It's no wonder that it failed. It might have contributed to Gulf's demise.

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Yes, it did. And there was another time when Gulf came up with a stupid, failed slogan which went something like this: "Gulf...the gas with guts."

Now admit it. Doesn't that sound just plain stupid? It's no wonder that it failed. It might have contributed to Gulf's demise.

I think that Gulf slogan gave way to another involving a mule and the line "The Gas with Kick". They gave away gold plated tie-tacks fashioned like two horse-shoes...there-in the "Kick". I'm not positive about the slogan, but I am about the tie-tacks, because I still have one. This slogan came about in the early to mid sixties, probably to compete with Humble Oil's "Put a Tiger in your Tank", and the accompanying tiger tails they gave at Humble gas stations, so you could hang them out of your gas door, like you had shoved a real tiger head-first down the gas pipe. Where was PETA back then? HA!

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I think that Gulf slogan gave way to another involving a mule and the line "The Gas with Kick".

I remember that very well. I also recall that they had a pair of horseshoe stickers that were made of a kind of orange or red foam to advertise their gas.

But, for some reason, I associate the "kick" campaign with Texaco, not Gulf.

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I remember that very well. I also recall that they had a pair of horseshoe stickers that were made of a kind of orange or red foam to advertise their gas.

But, for some reason, I associate the "kick" campaign with Texaco, not Gulf.

I think you are right. Texaco would make more sense, with the Pegasus Mascot and all.

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magnol-1.jpg

This was a Dallas Landmark for years, years ago when I would drive in from the South, you could see the winged horse from miles away.

skyline-sunset3.jpg

You can barely make it out now, just a little red glow, amoungst all the skyscrapers.

My grandfather grew up in East Texas in the 1920's (he died 12 years ago), and he used to always remark how the Mobil sign was on the tallest building in Dallas back then when he was little boy driving to Dallas with his Dad for business. Now it barely registers on the skyline.

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I think that Gulf slogan gave way to another involving a mule and the line "The Gas with Kick". They gave away gold plated tie-tacks fashioned like two horse-shoes...there-in the "Kick". I'm not positive about the slogan, but I am about the tie-tacks, because I still have one. This slogan came about in the early to mid sixties, probably to compete with Humble Oil's "Put a Tiger in your Tank", and the accompanying tiger tails they gave at Humble gas stations, so you could hang them out of your gas door, like you had shoved a real tiger head-first down the gas pipe. Where was PETA back then? HA!

I don't remember the mule. I do remember some full-service gas stations gave out trading stamps. But I have no knowledge of trading stamps existing anymore.

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Mr. Barnes, you are absolutley correct. What was I thinking? Thanks for the correction.

I just remembered something from the old Texaco SERVICE stations. Do you remember over the bay door the words "Marfax Lubrication?" I'll never forget the Fire Chief and Sky Chief grades of gasoline, and on the side of the pump the words "Contains Lead."

Gulf was the orange disc. I remember back then Gulf had three grades of gasoline and Texaco had two. My dad refused to buy Gulf's basic grade called Gulftane because he said that it made his car run bad. He would always buy the middle grade called Good Gulf. He would never buy the premium grade called No Nox.

Back then here in Texas were ENCO stations. ESSO stations were over the border in Louisiana. Now all of them are called EXXON today. ENCO, like Gulf, sold three grades of gasoline. Do any of you personally remember ENCO/ESSO?

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  • 2 months later...

I found this photo on the front of an old "Houston Travelguide" map the company produced with Rand McNally. The year given was 1972, but I'm sure the photo itself could've been taken a bit earlier.

If I had any guess, this was taken from the east from the upper floors of the Great Southwest Building.

Gulf70snight.jpg

Edited by ChannelTwoNews
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  • 3 years later...

Gulf sign that used to be on the Gulf building. Amazingly, the company is still in business and doing stuff that you would recognize every day like the Metro bus shelters and the Dynegy sign.

Maybe they'll appreciate a film I'll be uploading soon; it's an entire day of the Houston skyline shot in time-lapse 1971. That Gulf Oil sign is just a spinnin! Look for it in late May 2011.

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