I grew up in Augusta, Kansas, a small town of 5,000. Our lives were regulated by the steam whistle at our local oil refinery. The refinery was originally called the White Eagle Refinery. Then, it became Socony-Vacuum Refinery and later, Socony-Mobil. The logo was the very distinctive Flying Red Horse.
The refinery was the main employer in our town and I guess the company wanted to make sure that there were no punctuality problems. They used the steam whistle to regulate the events of the day. Here’s the schedule as I remember it.
7:00 AM You’d better be getting out of bed.
7:50 AM You’d better be punched in, helmet on, and ready.
8:00 AM Start work.
12:00 PM Stop working and eat lunch.
12:50 PM Stop eating and get ready for work.
1:00 PM Go back to work.
5:00 PM Quit work and go home.
The whistle was a pretty handy item. Back in the 1940’s few people had wrist watches. There were certainly no kids with a watch. The whistles could be heard all over town and at least a mile out into the country.
January 9, 2014