Gasoline Shortage Sign, 1973

In October 1973, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries suspended delivery of crude oil to the United States in retaliation for American military support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Almost overnight, gasoline supplies plummeted below adequate levels, and Americans learned first-hand the uncertainties and disruptions that could occur in a transportation system dependent on imported oil. On the hard hit east coast, long lines of cars formed at gasoline stations as motorists vied for limited quantities. Larry Jackson, a field supervisor for Amerada Hess, served as company liaison for about 18 gasoline stations in northern New Jersey. As car lines lengthened, he distributed company-issued, painted Masonite signs reading “Sorry! LAST CAR IN THIS LINE” to dealers in his territory. He issued one or two signs to each dealer. A sign was placed on the rear bumper of the last car in line to warn other motorists not to get in line. Lines eventually stretched as long as two to six miles before the oil embargo ended in 1974. Jackson kept a small supply of extra signs for future distribution and donated one to the National Museum of American History in 2012.
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
paint (overall material)
masonite (overall material)
overall: 24 in x 15 in; 60.96 cm x 38.1 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
American Enterprise
Road Transportation
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Larry Jackson

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