In 1939 Texaco became one of the first oil companies to introduce a “Registered Rest Room” program to ensure that restroom facilities at all Texaco stations nationwide maintained a standard level of cleanliness to the motoring public. The company hired a staff of inspectors who travelled from station to station periodically to ensure that restrooms were up to standard. The “Registered Rest Room” program was later copied by other oil companies and continued at Texaco until the energy crises of the 1970s.
Thanks to CNN Business for linking to my blog–Texaco created a “Registered Rest Room” program in 1938 for its thousands of stations in all 48 states. Read-Believe it or not, gas station bathrooms used to be squeaky clean. Here’s what changed.
Thanks also to The strange history of Pristine gas station bathrooms for linking
“She will remember the dirty restrooms and avoid the stations on her next trip,” read a 1938 article in the trade journal National Petroleum News titled “Women Shun Dirty Stations.”
outside. This is inconvinient becasue it typically requires getting a key
from the main indoor area, going outside and using the bathroom, and then
returning the key. I can’t recall a gas station that appeared to be built
in, say, the last 20 years being designed like this.Why was this once done?
Just a guess, but, those station buildings were (apparently) built to
occupy the smallest possible “footprint” (a term that was not used then,
There were one or two service bays (sized to fit the bigger cars of the
day) in (usually) the left half of the building. The right half was
divided into three pieces. The rear half was divided into two
parts–the left piece of the rear part was storeroom–open to the
service bay(s). The remainder of the rear half was the restrooms and
the only place to put the doors to them was to the outside, although
some had the front one (almost always the “Women’s”) opened into the
office (front) area).
The office area was the front part of the right end, and had a “L”
shaped counter whose rear area opened into the service bay.
The area in front of the counter opened to the fuel islands, and perhaps
to the service bay. And maybe to the Women’s restroom. The area
between the counter and the front of the building contained gedunk and
motor-oil displays and such. The coke machine probably stood outside
the door to the fuel islands.
In order to accommodate interior restrooms, coffee bars, groceries and
so forth requires larger buildings and the changing mores requiring
continuous surveillance also argues for everything being where the
cameras can see it.
(Some old stations had the restrooms in a separate building in the back
or side of the building–reminiscent of holes-in-the-ground latrines,
although I never saw such a thing–just some that smelled like it.
Remember: The Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals.
Gas Stations and the White Patrol
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