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Columns

March 31, 2014

Local residents coped with lines for gasoline in 1974

(Continued)

Charles Rynkiewicz wasn’t so passive about the wait. The East Worcester contractor said jobs took him all over the area for work, but now he couldn’t get gas he needed for his travels. Rynkiewicz was using his “gas break” to balance the company books.

“This gas shortage has cost me about 50 percent of my business,” he said.

If waiting in line wasn’t frustrating enough, businesses located along the line of waiting cars in the East End had their problems as well — access for customers. Two car dealers, Putnam Motors and Hilts’ Sales & Service, complained how the lines affected them.

Harold Hilts, co-owner of Hilts’ Sales & Service, erected a series of barrels along the highway to discourage drivers from blocking his parking lot.

The Star reported about a week later that more gas was flowing and lines were shorter, “and all is well in the gasoline world — for the moment, that is.”

Then it was reported on March 22 how Sunday sales of gasoline would resume. Since December, local station owners had been complying with a request from President Nixon and Gov. Malcolm Wilson that sales on Sunday be halted as a way to put the brakes on demand. 

The Star’s veteran staff writer Bob Whittemore wrote on March 26 about those who may have thought about traveling south for spring school and college vacations, worried about lack of gasoline or the high costs. Whittemore and family had apparently made the trip.

“Like most northerners we planned our March vacation, then canceled out because of gasoline problems and high costs.

“Then, suddenly, we decided to hell with it — we would go and see what happened. If we were stranded because of gasoline shortages, we’d sit where we were — at least we’d be away.

“To our delight, we found no problems as far as gasoline is concerned. There is plenty along the interstates.

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