Saturday, January 07, 2006
The Texaco star has been permanently etched into my brain for as far back as I can remember. In my earliest memories, roadtrips and oil changes always led us to Texaco service stations. Of course, this was back when they did more than just gas. Back when you could "trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star". Most of the stations I remember from this period looked something like these [gassigns.org]. O.K...so I'm not old enough to remember some of those, but it's a nice collection of Texaco signage, huh?
In 1982, Texaco replaced their 1966-vintage hexagon logo with a new rendition of the old banjo sign in red and white featuring the star and "T". They also started upgrading and building service stations with design emphasis on dark colors including, black, red and gray. Before long, these very recognizable, sleek Star Marts (and Food Marts) were popping up all over OK and TX.
In 2001, things changed drastically. Shell bought out Texaco's portion of a shared venture they'd been working on in order to allow Texaco to merge with Chevron. Shell picked up rights to operate former Texaco stations under the Texaco brand. The merger of Chevron and Texaco helped create one of the worlds largest oil companies. In 2006, Shell loses the non-exclusive rights to the Texaco brand. Therefore, over the past year, we've seen a mass extinctions of company-owned Texaco gas stations. A good article from GTR NewsOnline goes into more detail.
Several of Tulsa's former Texaco locations have been converted into (poorly designed IMO) modern Shell stations. However, a large majority of the stations in Tulsa have been simply leveled (well, removed...see pics) and rebuilt upon. I know that 81st and Sheridan, 31st and Garnett, 71st and Mingo and 71st and 145th have been completely cleared at this point. There's probably more that I'm just not aware of. This may be a strange subject to document on Lost Tulsa. I realize they're only gas stations. Just call it pre-emptive archiving. These stations were standardized landmarks that were scattered throughout our city. Now these numerous landmarks are being drastically altered in a short period of time. It really changes the "look and feel" of a city when this happens. It also creates an unique opportunity to improve the landscape of an area if the new owners are inclined to put some thought and planning into the new development of these lots.
I'm not sure what will become of most of these locations. I'm not thrilled with the decision to build an Advanced Auto Parts on the old 31st and Garnett location. I don't mind having a new parts store nearby...but a O'Reilly's Auto Parts was just built at that same intersection last year, joining a AutoZone just down the street. Is this Tulsa's auto-parts section of town, or what?! I'm sure that most of the spaces will be quickly rebuilt with similar Generica buildings. The Advanced Auto Parts is just a huge box, with minimal design elements to make it unique in any way. Sitting at the intersection next to this store, I could be in Tulsa or Denver or Wichita Falls...how could I tell the difference? But that's a tangent for another day.
3 different eras of Texaco stations were featured in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II: a contemporary self-serve station (1980s), a 1950s version with several full service attendants, and a futuristic version where a fully-automated station services flying cars.
Texaco was the first service station to have "Certified" public restrooms with very high standards for cleanliness.