16 May 2008

The American highway in 1935

Cabinet Magazine online has an interesting article written by two Russians who drove across the United States in 1935 as correspondents for Pravda.
The tank is full. It's possible to quietly travel onward. However, the gentleman in the striped service cap and leather bowtie does not let the traveler go. The famous American service begins. The man from the gas station opens the car's hood, checks the oil and water. Then he checks the air pressure in the tires. However, he does not consider his mission complete with this. He wipes the windscreen of the car with a cloth. If the glass is very dirty, he wipes it with a special powder. And then, everything is in order. But now, softened by the service, the traveler himself no longer wants to depart. It seems to him that the hatch of the automobile is not slamming shut tightly enough.

Benevolently smiling, the gentleman extracts a tool from his hind pocket and in two minutes the door is in order! It's possible to go. But he doesn't want to. He wants service, a little more of this wonderful and, more importantly, free service. The traveler asks what is the best way to get to a nearby town. In response to this, he receives a first-class map of the state, upon which the man from the gas station sketches the further route of the motorist. On the reverse side of the map are the names of hotels and tourist homes. Also listed are noteworthy places that will be encountered on the road. And all of this is a free bonus for purchasing gasoline. With regret, the traveler abandons the hospitable station attendant, comforting himself only when after 100 miles the gasoline runs low, and when at that very minute it runs low, a new gas station appears without fail on the road, where he is met by the same hospitable man in a striped cap and leather bowtie.
Are you old enough to be nostalgic for this remembered past, or so young that this narrative sounds like a fantasy? More at THIS LINK.

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