Heating the American Dream

vintage illustration 1950s housewife at home

The second Sunday in October 1957 an unexpected chilly nip of fall was in the air.

Some blamed the unseasonably cold blast on the Cold War. Sputnik, that Russian satellite that was currently circling the globe was sending chills down Uncle Sam’s spine, toying with Mother Nature.

At home, Mom turned on Ed Sullivan and turned up the heat, raising the temperature on our new modern Honeywell EZ-read thermostat to a toasty 78 degrees.

Admiring the new thermostat’s snap-off cover cleverly painted to match our Ken- Mor painted walls, it was a decorators dream. Designed by none other than industrial giant designer Henry Dreyfuss, it made all other thermostats obsolete.

The humming sound of the oil burner churning was a satisfying one. Turn that heat up as high as you like lady! No need to break the bank keeping toasty!

In fact in honor of the upcoming American celebration of Oil Progress Week, Dad proudly nudged the needle up to a balmy 85.

Vintage ad illustration 1950s family home heater

Oil’s Right with the World

Oil was still the biggest bargain in the American budget.

American oil men were always finding new and better sources. Mother nature applied the cookie jar technique to oil, Dad would  explain to us. Most of it, she hid away out of our reach.

The Petroleum Institute crowed that  “The beat ‘em to it urge that kept oil men hunting new oil sources is what drove America and made us great.”

vintage illustration oil truck, gas pump, oil well

Gushing Oil with Pride

Every day the oil industry was breaking every record with oil men meeting the greatest demand. One ad produced by the Oil Industry Information Committee gushed with obvious pride that there were “more oil products than ever before! “

Laying it on thick, they continued to rhapsodize about how much oil we consumed.

“Look about your community- and you’ll see why America is now using more oil products than ever! Your service stations-supplying gasoline and lubricants to more motor vehicles than ever before” it boasted.

“Your local fuel oil suppliers- delivering heating oils on a round the clock basis to home, schools, hospitals,” it bragged.

And your industries…farms…planes and trains- all using more oil than they’ve ever used before,” they crowed.

“Yes, demand for oil is great. Meeting it, 34,000 individual oil companies, competing with rivals have shattered every record. Every day, they’re supplying nearly 250 million gallons of petroleum products for hundreds of different uses including medicines, paints, cosmetics, insecticides.”

Vintage illustration gas station 1940s

Fossil Fuel Fantasies

“And this greatest supply of oil products…more oil,” they say with a swagger, “than America needed in a global war- will be increased still further.”

“Oil means more comfort, better living greater convenience- for you” and bigger profits  for firms determined to supply even larger amounts of petroleum in the future.

“Oil is energy for America. Yes, gasoline and oil are 2 of the most conveniently available commodities you buy- and low in price.”

Your future in Fossil Fuels is ensured!



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