Wow! $2 gas again…

Gas-PumpThe other day in Honolulu (12/2008) I was so surprised to see  gas at Costco — the one by Honolulu Community College — only cost about $2 a gallon for 87-octane; and that for the first time in a long time I sprang for premium grade. It only cost about $35 to fill up.

This reminded me of a number of things:

  • The long line at Costco started near Dillingham Blvd., but at mid-morning on a weekday the line moved well, so I only spent about 15-20 minutes waiting, doing some stuff on my new iPhone in the process.
  • During the so-called gas shortage in 1974 — remember, you could only fill up on alternating days — we used to have similar long lines. This could have been a problem for my wife, Sally, who was commuting to beauty school from Laie in Honolulu at the time, but she cut a deal with the late Sam Choy Sr., father of the well-known Hawaiian chef and namesake of Sam’s Store (more correctly called Laie Cash & Carry). Sam’s daughter [young Sam’s sister], Moana, was going to the same school at that time, so Sally gave Moana rides in exchange for filling up occasionally at the old gas pump that used to be outside of Sam’s Store. Of course, the gas-pump’s long gone; the store’s still business as usual; but old-timers will remember back-then you could buy gas at Sam’s and also at Matsuda’s by Egg Farm Road, in addition to the Chevron that’s still in Laie.
  • Matsuda-garage
    Matsuda’s, by Egg Farm Road

    When I first moved to Laie in 1967 all of these gas stations would close about 5 p.m., and the next closest one that was open at night was in Kaneohe…so you had to plan ahead.

  • Five or six years earlier, when I was still living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and first started driving, gas usually cost about 25¢ a gallon, so I could fill up for under $5. It was not unusual to go into a gas station and tell the attendant who waited on you to put in $1 or $2. The attendant would also check your oil and wash your car windows as part of the regular service.
  • Of course at that time I only made $1 an hour at my first job, scooping ice cream, bussing tables and washing banana split dishes and malt cans after school and evenings — sometimes ’til 2 in the morning — at Snelgrove’s Ice Cream on 2100 South — the one with the big double-scoop revolving sign. Over the years whenever I visited Salt Lake City I would almost always have to stop by for a double-thick chocolate shake or malt with Snelgrove’s custom-made peppermint spray ice cream. ONO loa [very yummy!] All the regular customers had their own favorites. The last time I was in Salt Lake City I was sorry to learn the old store had closed down, so I’m sure I’m not the only disappointed customer with fond memories. When I was a little kid, Snelgrove’s was also kinda’ well-known for having a very modern automatic door opener that worked by walking past a light-beam — not the somewhat more common step-on-a-pressure-plate kind of automatic door: Kids were always playing with it.
  • I also remember being very happy when I eventually got my first job that paid more than $1/hour.
  • Back on subject: There were a number of oil refineries around Salt Lake City in those days that would get involved in what were called “gas wars“: Competing service stations would occasionally lower their prices to as little as 12¢ a gallon. Can you imagine filling up your tank for less than two bucks. Even then it was a great deal.

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