San Diego Hysterical Society

Midway Gas Station

by Nicholas Abercrombe

The first gas station to sell seven different kinds of gasoline was located at the corner of Midway and Ashley. Each had a different octane rating, and each had a different price.
Seven pumps, seven prices

What the public did not know, was that all seven pumps were linked to the same underground storage tank. Before opening his short-lived Nickel & Dine Emporium, Juan "Honest John" Cortez decided to go into the gasoline flim-flam con game.

Cortez bought his gas across the Rio Grande and trucked it to his station in the dead of night. He bought the cheapest gas he could, which did not work well with most modern engines of the era. He priced his "premium" gas higher than other stations.. Most moterists asked for the cheaper pumps. Cortez would brow-beat them as cheap skates. When they later returned complaining that their engines now didn't run well, Cortez blamed them for not getting the better gas. They would usually add the more expensive gas to their tanks, but it would take twenty or more "top-offs" before anyone would quit going there.

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