Saturday, March 13, 2021

1902 bridge, architect: Bruno Möhring. Near the Bülowstrasse high station, Berlin, Germany. The fifth oldest underground railway network worldwide, Berlin's oldest elevated railway

1983 above

At the age of 12, Alfred Finn left home for a job heating rivets for the Brazos River Bridge. Five years later he landed in Houston and found a job building boxcars for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Then, he took a correspondence course in architecture, went to work as an apprentice draftsman for the foremost architectural firm in Texas at the time.

 Soon after coming to Houston in 1913 with the prominent firm, Finn established his own office.

As Houston grew during these years of industrialization, Finn designed homes for many of the city’s rising entrepreneurs in upper-middle-class enclaves. One of his Montrose Boulevard homes — built for the Walter W. Fondren family — today houses La Colombe d’Or Hotel and Restaurant. The home built for oil man Frank Sterling in Broadacres survives (although with alterations) as the University of Houston chancellor’s residence. A number of Finn homes — sometimes identified by the cartouche design on the facade — are extant. Finn’s own home, a somewhat more modest abode on San Jacinto, remains standing.

Houston’s rapid growth also created a demand for better office buildings, stores, hotels, service stations, theaters, warehouses and structures for fraternal and charitable institutions. Finn designed buildings for each of these functions. His first commercial venture was the 10-story Foster Building, followed by the adjoining Rusk Building in the 700 block of Main.

State National Bank took its place on Main Street as a symbol of the city’s expanding financial activities. Humble Oil and Refining Co.’s first retail service station showed the coming importance of the automobile.

I came across a Field Guide to Texas Gas Stations

It covers a LOT of information

I came across a webpage of the evolution of the gas station architectural evolution


I didn't know that the National Park Service was interested in, and has plans for, preservation and re-use of historical gas stations, except for the one in San Fran on multi million dollar real estate I posted about last month

Across the United States gas stations are slowly being rediscovered for their historic significance. They have even been included on statewide endangered property lists. 

Once spurned as out of place incursions or eyesores, historic stations are increasingly appreciated for their contribution to the character of a neighborhood, and the way they are easily adapted for new uses. This Preservation Brief provides guidance on assessing the significance of historic gas stations and encourages their preservation by providing information on the maintenance and repair of existing structures. 

This Brief also describes appropriate rehabilitation treatments, including conversion for new functions when the historic use is no longer feasible.

The unique features and characteristics that define historic gas stations can be respected and preserved through sensitive maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation. Such work minimizes unnecessary alterations and ensures that the building continues to contribute to the character and vitality of its community.

This little yellow scallop shell shaped service station on East Sprague Street in Winston-Salem is the only authentic building of its kind on earth.

Royal Dutch Petroleum, founded in 1890, was extracting crude oil from wells on the island of Sumatra. In 1907, as a defensive measure against the cut-throat tactics of the Standard Oil Company, they merged with the Shell Transport and Trading Company to form Royal Dutch Shell. The Dutch division had charge of extraction and shipping of crude. The British division did the refining and distribution. Antiques and curios became just a memory.

Shell gasoline arrived in the United States in 1915 when the company began building service stations in California. They adopted the colors red and yellow from the Spanish flag because so many Californians at that time had Spanish backgrounds.

By 1934, the stations provided too little space for modern services, so one by one fell into disuse.

 Most were replaced by larger buildings. But when the station at Sprague and Peachtree Street, built by Rad B. Burton in 1930, closed, it was leased in 1972 and later bought by James D. Watson who established a small engine repair shop in the building. That saved the only remaining scallop shell service station in the world.

During the 1920s and 30s and continuing after World War II, some gas stations showed a marked contrast to the predominant shed, house, and later box designs. 

Called programmatic architecture, these stations assumed the fanciful shape of animals, apples, tea kettles, tepees, windmills, castles, icebergs, and airplanes. Appealing to the curiosity of passing motorists, programmatic stations were inspired by local culture, distinctive local materials, or the whim of the owner.

In Cedarburg, WI, is a 1929 pagoda-style metal tile roof, complete with upturned eaves and Japanese lanterns suspended from the cupola. The building currently functions as a jewelry store.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated in 2004 that there were at least 200,000 abandoned vacant sites with petroleum contamination in the United States, most of which are gas stations.

 Royal Dutch Shell, commonly known as Shell, an Anglo–Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, is the second largest company in the world in terms of revenue.

It has operations in over 90 countries, produces around 3.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day and has 44,000 service stations worldwide. Shell Oil Company, its subsidiary in the United States, is one of its largest businesses.

log cabin style gas station in 1927, Chippewa Falls Wisconsin

look at the size of those damn gas pumps!

wouldn't it have been great to stop by and meet Barney while buying some tires?

then again, I don't think any people who put their name on a business are ever around to meet customers.

quite a list of things on the overhang that they were selling as xmas gifts....

and the gas pumps on the left, are unusual. 

Bicycles, wagons, scooters, velocipedes, heaters? Robes? those are odd xmas gifts to buy from Firestone

Castle Oaks Garage, a cool old garage that sold gas, and had a lot of Hollywood stars stop by, it still exists and is now a French restaurant, La Chene

The site was originally developed by the Dodrill family in the early part of the last century. The first family member came to America as a Revolutionary War Tory soldier. His nickname was “English Bill”. He was taken prisoner and later escaped.

 He wanted to stay in America so he changed his name from Doddridge to Dodrill. 

His grandson, William Arch Dodrill was born in 1888 in Stevens Creek, Lancaster County, Nebraska. In June 1915, the grandson married 22-year-old Rachel Joyce Swanson at the Bible Institute in Los Angeles.

 Soon afterwards, they bought a parcel of land from Mr. Seeley who had homesteaded 160 acres there in 1912,  along what is now the Sierra Highway and built a roadside gas station which first opened for business in 1917 on Mint Canyon Road.

 In the early days, this route started as a pack-animal trail. During the 1910’s, it was widened into a dirt road suitable for vehicular traffic running between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe. Between 1937 and 1964, it was renamed U.S. Route 6. It was part of the longest transcontinental highway crossing the country at the time.

It started as a simple wooden building with a tar-papered roof, with just one gasoline pump out front. The Dodrills positioned the building right next to a majestic oak tree, and called their new enterprise the “Oaks Garage”. In the shade of this oak, they built an outdoor refreshment stand selling bottled drinks.

The family lived in a wooden building with a tent-covered roof set back directly behind this beautiful oak tree. This was a form of temporary shelter that was commonly used in that era. 

In addition to selling gasoline and motor oil to passing motorists, the garage provided automobile repairs. Will Dodrill was a certified auto mechanic. It was a popular stop for day trippers travelling from Los Angeles to Palmdale or Lancaster, perhaps enjoying side trips to attractions like Vasquez Rocks and the Red Rover gold mine. 

After the first few years of operation, the Dodrills decided it was time to expand the business. Using a horse and wagon, they hauled river stones from Big Rock Creek in the Valyermo area, south of Pearblossom. This trip took two days to complete in each direction.

 In 1923, they extended the main structure by building a cafe and a family home for themselves adjoining the garage. They used the stones stockpiled the previous year to build the outer walls. Rachel’s father, Gus Swanson, a bricklayer by trade, came to help with the construction. These attractive, rounded stones gave the new building a castle-like appearance, and it quickly became known colloquially as the “rock house.” It was subsequently referred to as the “Castle Oaks Garage and Cafe” on postcards from that era.

A line of five new gas pumps stood in front of the new building. They had a public telephone booth right next to the gas pumps. Their telephone number was The Oaks No. 1. In those days, first grade Economy gasoline cost 17 cents a gallon. 

The new cafe started as a window counter, and was later upgraded to a long, elegant counter with about 20 bar stools. As an eye-catching feature, they incorporated the large oak tree that used to shade the old refreshment stand into the front stone wall of the new building. It stood majestically between the garage on the right, and the new cafe on the left. A drinking fountain was installed at the base of this signature oak tree.

The Dodrills built five wooden cabins which are still in use today (two of them are now joined together into a single structure). They were rented as overnight accommodation to passing motorists. They also developed a campground among a pleasant grove of oak trees directly across the road.

Will & Rachel’s first-born daughter, June, married the apprentice mechanic. His name was Monte Boster and he started working with June’s father in the garage at age 16. They were married when Monte turned 21.

The Oaks was a destination for many of the movie stars of the day. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans used to come by in their jeep to fill up with gas. William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) would visit with his crew when they were shooting movies at Vasquez Rocks. “Hoppy” even used to help Marie Lamar in the kitchen. Jane Wyman would sit in the cafe and study her scripts. 

Clark Gable would park his motorbike outside and eat in the cafe. The Lamars’ grandson, Fred Sohegian Jr., relates a story about Clark Gable: “The Oaks was jammed, and Clark Gable was sitting at the counter. My grandfather always was in the garage or driving the tow truck or ambulance. If a cook didn’t show up, or they got busy, my grandmother would go get him to work, which he didn’t really like. He was waiting tables and Clark Gable stopped him and said, ‘ I have been waiting for service, and do you know who I am?’ My grandfather said, ‘ I know who you are’, and then asked if he knew who all these men were sitting at the counter and tables. Clark Gable says,’ no I don’t’. My grandfather told him that these were his regular customers and he can wait his turn, and kept going.”

 During the 1930’s and 40’s, popular motocross events attracted other notable visitors from the Beverly Hills Motorcycle Club, including Gregory Peck, Wallace Beery, Keenan Wynn, and Lee Marvin. They came to ride their motorbikes in the hills across the street, or to watch the events.

 The Oaks operated continuously right through the Depression and WWII. After 30 years of successful operation, the Dodrills sold their Oaks Garage business in 1946. William Dodrill was almost 60 at the time, and was suffering from poor health. The couple retired to Fall River Mills in northern California.

In 1971, the Oaks building was made famous by the movie director, Steven Spielberg. He used it as a location in his feature-film debut, “Duel”. Now a cult classic, the success of this movie helped to establish Spielberg as a director.

“Duel” is the gripping story of a business commuter (Dennis Weaver) who is pursued and terrorized by a tanker-truck driver who tries to kill him with his truck for no apparent reason. The recognizable Castle Oaks building was the location for Chuck’s Cafe, a truck-stop diner featured in the movie. Several scenes were shot there, both inside and out.\

LeChêne French Cuisine is a popular destination restaurant on Sierra Highway near Agua Dulce. The restaurant has been delighting customers with fine food and wines for 30 years. The translation of the restaurant’s name “Le Chêne” means “The Oak”. This area has always been noted for its beautiful, centennial, oak trees. Starting in 1917, there has been a long tradition of naming businesses operating at this location after these magnificent oak trees.

The current owner of the “Castle Oaks” bought the building in 1981 when he started what is now the renowned Le Chêne French restaurant. In 1987 the old garage area was renovated and turned it into a banquet room for special events. The kitchen was enlarged, and the whole building brought up to earthquake code.

I guess I've never posted the advertisement for the Don Garlits Dixco tach

I have seen only one or two in the past couple decades, probably because there are so many aftermarket tachs to choose from, Stewart Warner, Sun, Fo Mo Co, Smiths, Rotunda, Air Guide, Autometer, Moon Eyes, VDO  etc

what's the right word for the towing crane in the back of this truck? Davit?

ships use something similar for loading small cargo

the one in the truck has a lot more support girder welded on

Anyway, is there a better word for that in the back of the truck?

Preston Foster's custom 1939 Studebaker vacation wagon with Martha Driscoll, in 1941 (thanks Steve!)

When Dutch Darrin sold his company to Packard in 1939, three of his former employees Burt Chalmers, Rudy Stoessel and Paul Erdos formed Coachcraft, Ltd. in Hollywood in early 1940. Burt had worked for a Hollywood Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg dealer and knew a lot of movie stars who wanted custom camping station wagons. Coachcraft got a hold of a designer and engineer from Douglas Aircraft to come up with drawings.

Most of the wagons were based on a 166-inch wheelbase 1940 Studebaker ambulance chassis, but the one for actor Preston Foster was built on a 1939 Commander with a 116.5-inch wheelbase.

As for the front-mounted spare, Studebaker Commanders did NOT have fender-mounted spares on either side, they had the spare in a well under the carpet in the trunk. However, since now there was no trunk, the fender-mount was custom made.

Foster's wagon had a distinctive ash-framed body customized for camping. Seats fold down to form a bed, and a tent could be raised on telescoping poles to enclose the rear and side of the car, exactly as your picture shows. It had air-conditioning, and a two-way short-wave radio. Opening the rear deck lid and rear 'doors' exposed "a sink with draining board, a gasoline stove, a refreshment cabinet [think liquor], shelves for supplies and a refrigerator. The latter was powered by a small gasoline motor situated behind the grille between it and the radiator. The motor also provided 110-volt power for the interior lights."

(for anyone that hasn't been reading along for a long time, Steve is astonishing in his research and either knows or learns a hellava lot more than me, and is terrific in sharing it so I can pass it along in a post so much more improved because of his contributions) 

He forgot that I have no effing idea who the hell Preston Foster was, so I looked that up, and he was pretty famous, and was in tv shows, movies, and radio, whose career spanned nearly four decades. On Aug. 15, 1958, he received the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after being chosen in a drawing.

Actor, composer, songwriter, guitarist and author. He moved from Broadway acting (1928-1932) into films, was in the Coast Guard in WW2, achieved the rank of Captain, and after his Hollywood career, he was the executive producer at the El Camino Playhouse in LaJolla (the rich part of San Diego) California.  He wrote the MLB team song for the San Diego Padres!

He has 118 actor credits in IMDB, and most recognizable, is the 1943 My Friend Flika, the tv series 77 Sunset Strip in 1964

the older I get, the millions more photos I see a year, and the fewer cause me to wonder wtf I'm looking at. But this one did

the Ford Mercury 427? Was only 425.816.... so, how bad did they need to try and seem better than the hemi 426?

and the Ford 428’s bore and stroke measured 4.132 x 3.984 inches, which equals 427.386 cubic inches. Yes, you read that right—the 428 is a 427! Because Ford already had a 427 of sorts, the folks at Dearborn simply rounded up.

and the Pontiac 428 wasn’t quite what it seemed. When you account for the 4.12-inch bore and 4.0-inch stroke, actual displacement comes out to 426.613 cubic inches. 

The Pontiac 350 was a 3.875-inch bore and 3.746-inch stroke, which doesn’t equal 350 cubic inches, it yields 353.42.

and because of the cubic-inch rules at General Motors, for smaller cars, the limit was 330 cubic inches, so Pontiac called the 336 a 326.

Boards installed at the traffic light (in Germany, top photo, Seattle bottom photo) so you don't have to get off your bike while waiting (Thank Bill!)

ever read something random, and finally something you saw years ago seems to make sense?

 do you remember the movie with Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? 

In the beginning of the movie was the scene where Hammer, playing a Russian spy, was in one car and Cavill playing the American spy, and the leading actress who Cavill's character needed to get our of East Germany was in the other car. 

Towards the end of that scene the Russian spy grabs ahold of the trunk lid.. 

So today when I read about the Lloyd Alexander:

the Lloyd Alexander TS, the West-German-built Kleinwagen’s top trim. (Kleinwagen = minicar.) So basic was the 600-cc TS that the next trim level down, the 600, didn’t even have a trunk lid that opened.

I now wonder if that scene was dealing with the trunk that wasn't supposed to open (nope, coincidence, in the movie the cars were a Wartburg and a Trabant)

something wrong here