The Gas Shortage of the 1970’s - Oh, The Madness!

By | November 14, 2017

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UNITED STATES - MAY 06: Paul Pierson with signs during New Jersey gas shortage. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

I was in elementary school during the oil crisis/gas shortage of the 1970’s. I wasn’t overly concerned at the time since, as a kid, I wasn’t driving so I didn’t really have a horse in that race. My parents, on the other hand, had their concerns. My father had to get to work everyday at all costs. Calling out was not an option; his work ethic wouldn’t allow it. We were fortunate to have two cars so it all worked out, although it was still a huge worry. A lot of people were of the opinion that the shortage was unnecessary and purely political, but the fact remained that gasoline was scarce.

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My family lived in Maryland at the time of the gas shortage. Gas was being rationed and sold under certain conditions. Of course, the public was expected to conserve gas whenever possible, but measures were put into place to ensure that everyone was participating in the effort. Gas stations were selling gas on an odd/even day basis. If your license plate number ended in an even number, you could buy gas on certain days and the same concept applied to odd numbered license plate numbers. If your car had vanity tags, you could only buy gas on odd days. My parents were fortunate enough to have one of each; an even and an odd license plate number so theoretically, they could buy gas every day. During that time, though, many families only owned one car so plenty of people ran into a big problem. As you can imagine, public transportation was encouraged but was also limited due to the gas shortage.