The Gilmore Oil Co. Story:
First let me tell you guys, that I have no right trying to educate anyone on this company! My Gilmore collection consist of one oil can. This is my attempt to HTH (Help the Hobby)as Dwaine would say. The information I share here with you, I found from other collectors and articles. I have several photos of Gilmore items to share, but they have come from the internet or other collections. I'm hoping that some of you have Gilmore items that you post photos of.
Here we go:
Gilmore was more than an oil company! In Los Angeles, Gilmore was a way of life. You will hear references to Dairy farms, Lion Cubs, Race cars, Farmers Markets, Hollywood stars, Airplane sponsorship, Baseball teams, and even the Indy 500.
THE DAIRY FARM:
Arthur Fremont Gilmore had no plans for a world-renowned institution when he moved to Los Angeles from Illinois in 1870. Rather, he was seeking a new home for his family on the promising West Coast.
With a partner, A.F. Gilmore purchased two ranches in the Los Angeles vicinity. The purchase inaugurated a string of serendipitous events which not even the far- sighted Gilmore could predict. When Gilmore and his partner elected to dissolve their arrangement, they drew straws - Gilmore's straw secured 256 acres on which he created a highly successful dairy farm.
At the turn of the century, while drilling for water for his herd of dairy cows, A.F. Gilmore hit oil.
LETS SELL GAS:
By 1905, the dairy was gone and the Gilmore Oil Company was well on its way to providing the fuel to power the coming automobile age.
In 1921, Earl Bell Gilmore, Arthur's son, went on to create a vast oil and gas distribution network. The auto industry was producing more than four million cars each year, and with a healthy portion of those headed for California and Los Angeles, Gilmore's independent oil company became the largest in the west.
Gilmore's flair for promotion made his gas stations a popular part of the Western landscape. "Blu-Green" gas, the famous "Red Lion," "Gas-a-terias" (now called self-serve stations), and radio jingles which people hummed, were examples of his successful promotions. E.B. Gilmore rarely missed an opportunity to serve the public whose trade had built his enterprise - and in Los Angeles in the 1930s and '40s, he gave them sports.
In 1934, a few months before Farmers Market opened (more on Farmers Market later), Gilmore built the first race car track designed specifically for midget racers, a venue built of love and commercial savvy. Gilmore loved racers and his marketing sense led him to support them as a "demonstration" of Gilmore Oil products.
His romance with cars extended well beyond the construction of Gilmore Stadium. As a sponsor, E.B. Gilmore took vehicles to the Winner's Circle at the Indianapolis 500. As a patron, he helped establish a land speed record which lasted for eight years. As a businessman, he created "Economy Runs" which evolved into modern stock car racing. In 1987, E.B. Gilmore was elected to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of fame.
Gilmore Stadium, located on Beverly Boulevard, just to the north of the La Brea Tar pits in Los Angeles, was a 1/5 mile stadium built in 1934 by Earl Gilmore to host midget racing. It was expanded to 1/4 miles in 1936, and had a crushed granite surface. The land was purchased in 1950 by CBS Television, and the last race was held on the 23rd November 1950..
In July 1934, a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the property known as Gilmore Island, at the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles, and displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles.
Customers quickly arrived and parked their cars on a hastily created dirt parking lot in spaces designated with chalk. They strolled among the trucks purchasing
fruit, vegetables and flowers.
The atmosphere was casual, the open air commerce enticing, the goods fresh, and the result remarkable. Farmers Market became an instant institution.
Roger Dahlhjelm and Fred Beck, two entrepreneurs trying to make the best of the Depression, approached E.B. Gilmore with "An Idea." Perhaps they were attracted by Gilmore's marketing flair or perhaps it was his expansive acreage in close proximity to the booming Los Angeles community.
Whatever the motivation, Dahlhjelm and Beck envisioned a "Village Square" where artisans would sell handmade goods - pottery, furniture, textiles - from stalls surrounding a central market where farmers would sell their produce to housewives. Dahlhjelm and Beck had architectural renderings and a vast vision.
E.B. Gilmore had a large vacant field, and the "Idea" was given life. The concept of elaborate architecture gave way to wooden stalls, and the vast vision gave way to a modest business approach - farmers were charged a mere 50˘ per day "rent" - but the "Idea" had a power all its own.
Farmers Market reached and surpassed the lofty vision which launched it. By the time the decade had lapsed, the gross was greater than the predicted six million dollars, but commercial volume was the least of the Market's achievements
Farmers Market became the central meeting place for Angelenos - "Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax" is still one of the most common phrases in the city. It also became, and remains, the must-see tourist attraction in Southern California.
Farmers Market has been the home to circus acts, parades, petting zoos, and stargazing. It was also the source of a daily newspaper column which, at its height, rivaled "Dick Tracy" in popularity. Chef Baloni, the irrepressible Fred Beck, made his home here and offered cooking tips and Farmers Market recipes.
As a part of an expansion and reconstruction project in 1941, Farmers Market became the home of the Clock Tower, which has become an international landmark. In tribute to Earl B. Gilmore, Roger Dahlhjelm, and Fred Beck, the words "An Idea" were inscribed on the Clock Tower.
After 68 years, and undoubtedly 68 more, Farmers Market remains an idea whose time is now.
Don "oltoydoc" Sherwood Vintage Gas
[This message has been edited by email@example.com (edited 11-02-2004).]