May 10, 1979 – News for this day was almost all about access to gasoline. All over the country, lines were forming at gas stations as rationing began the previous day. Yesterday it was gas for odd numbered license plates. This day was for even numbered and personalized plates. And nobody was happy.
The West Coast was particularly hard hit, with a barrage of excuses that went from the situation in Iran to an unexplained increase in gasoline demand. Whatever it was, the end result was either a line, snaking down any given street and around corners, with waits going into hours, or a closed gas station with a NO Gas sign posted, or not sign posted at all.
There were suspicions that this was a manufactured crisis – that it was a plan devised by oil companies to hike prices by creating a false demand, that the sudden increase in population in some parts of the country (primarily Los Angeles and the West Coast in general) was seen as an opportunity to create a shortage. Investigations were called for and probes on the state and local as well as national level were being considered. Some station owners saw it as an opportunity to cash in, and jacked prices up anyway and this brought a rash of complaints from drivers to law enforcement who were busily cruising the streets in search of nefarious gas stations.
Whatever it was, real or manufactured, the bottom line was; people were stuck in lines waiting for gas. And those who could afford it least were the hardest hit.
There was other news this day, but it was still about oil. Reports from Ireland told of gas shortages and closed stations with “no petrol” signs posted. Iran was reported to be raising crude oil prices by .60 a barrel. Other news from Iran also reported executions of former associates of the Shah.
All that, and a lot more for this May 10, 1979 as reported via KNX Newsradio in Los Angeles with extensive live coverage of rush-hour gas lines. All on Day 2.