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Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.

Posted by Paula B. 
Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
April 10, 2014 05:03PM
When zooming in on a very large photo of Commerce St. from 1912/13, I inadvertently stumbled across the first gas pump in Dallas (at least I think it was the first). It was curbside, in the 1600 block of Commerce, near Ervay, and it was installed by the Oriental Oil Company in 1911, when horse-drawn buggies and wagons were sharing the streets with autombiles. Since I'd never heard or seen anything like this, I was intrigued and spent a day reading about gas pumps and filling stations and the Oriental Oil Co. (a very early Dallas oil company, est. 1903) -- it was very fun research! I wrote about it here: [bitly.com]. Does anyone know if there is a "proper" photo of this pump anywhere?

Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
October 14, 2020 08:59PM
No one replied to this post by Paula back when it was put up, but the article Paula wrote is very interesting regarding the early history of gasoline vendors in Dallas.

A sign that Paula included in her article lists "gasoline, oil, grease, or soap" as products one could get for early automobiles (" ... cars can get a supply of gasoline, oil, grease or soap."winking smiley

What would early automobiles need soap for? Of course, one can use soap as a detergent in washing a great variety of things, but it seems an oddity to me for a gas station to include soap along with the other products mentioned. Anyone?

And Paula, if you are still around and following the board, thank you for this wonderful article.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 14, 2020 11:25AM
Thank you, Dave!

I've wondered for awhile: did you used to write for the Dallas Morning News?

Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 14, 2020 05:45PM
Hi Paula, No. The Dave McNeely whose articles appeared in the DMN was actually a reporter for the Austin American Statesman, I believe. Some family members have stated that he was a distant cousin, but I do not know him, and do not know whether the family connection was in fact correct.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 14, 2020 09:10PM
Paula B.

My maternal Grandmother made Kerosene Soap. IIRC gas stations back
in those days had a large square metal (20-30gal?) with a hand pump on top,
and that's where we got our kerosene
I remember stepping on a board with a rusty nail and soaking my foot in kerosene.

How to make Kerosene Soap:
Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 15, 2020 11:05AM
In my family, in the 1950s, kerosene (we usually called it "coal oil," though that product had long been supplanted in the U.S. by kerosene) was considered a cure all. Step on a nail -- kerosene, though a rusty one usually meant a trip to the sawbones for a tetanus ("lock jaw"winking smiley booster. I suppose rusty was a signifier of longer in the soil, so more likely to infect. But we kept horses, so anything in contact with soil probably harbored _Clostridium tetani_, the causative organism. Sore throat -- a little kerosene, a little salt, warm water, gargle. Insect bite or sting -- kerosene. Catfish spine -- kerosene. Snake bite -- kerosene soak, see if it swells, then the sawbones if so. My mother believed as late as the 1960s that kerosene had saved my older brother's life when he was bitten by a copperhead as a small child. More likely, it was a dry bite, or perhaps not enough venom to cause serious harm. There is no recorded case of death from a copperhead bite in the U.S., anyway.

We got kerosene from gas stations with the same dispensing device as Frank's family did, and always kept it on hand for mechanical, emergency lighting, and medicinal purposes. Besides kerosene, "black salve" (whatever that was, came in a small metal can with a friction fit lid) was daubed on just about any skin or flesh wound if kerosene wasn't used.

We survived, all 7 of us, to adulthood, something that not all large families from the time could say.

Dave McNeely
Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 16, 2020 09:41AM
Thanks, Dave and Frank.

Speaking of kerosene, I just ran across this 1970 film clip from the WFAA-Channel 8 archives at SMU showing reporter Tommy Ayres standing outside the old store at Combine, Texas, with his hand on a kerosene pump (at about the 12:34 mark): [youtu.be]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2020 09:42AM by Paula B..
Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 16, 2020 07:48PM
Thanks Paula

That's exactly as I remembered the kerosene dispensers looking.

You might already be aware of the SMU Jones Film Youtube channel?

Here's a link to the channel:

Re: Dallas' First Gas Pump/Oriental Oil Co.
December 17, 2020 11:39AM
Thanks, Frank.

I'm actually working as a researcher on the WFAA archive project for SMU. I am currently knee-deep in early 1970. If there were a "DFW Elected Officials of 1970" category on Jeopardy, I'd do pretty well!
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