World War I in Lawrence: Gasoline merchants stop selling after 6 p.m.

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence during World War I.

In July 1918, following the lead of other cities, Lawrence began an initiative to reduce evening “joy riding” and other recreational driving by making gasoline unavailable after 6 p.m. According to a Saturday article in the Journal-World, the idea came not from war officials, but from the twelve gas merchants in Lawrence: “If your gasoline tank is nearly empty you must hustle down to your garage or filling station before six o’clock tonight, otherwise the trip you are planning tomorrow will have to be made some other Sunday. Garages and service stations of the city have entered into an agreement today whereby no gasoline, oils or grease will be sold after six o’clock on any week day. Neither will they be sold on a holiday. This agreement is entered into by all twelve of the gasoline, auto repair and garage men of the city. The movement was started yesterday following an informal meeting of the garage men, who had been informed that the garage and service people of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Topeka had recently taken similar action…. ‘We have no orders to do this from the fuel administration,’ said I. L. Dayhoff of the Standard Oil service station, this morning. ‘We are just anticipating such an order. We believe that orders which will have a tendency to cut down joyriding will be issued soon by the fuel administration and we believe that if we voluntarily accomplish the end we will postpone more drastic regulations that would come if we took no measures to conserve the supply of oils and gas.'”

In local kitchens and restaurants, the drive to conserve sugar continued this month with a new rule requiring “each Lawrence housewife … to go to her grocer personally and sign a sugar pledge before the grocer will allow her to buy her three pounds per person per month in two pound quantities.” County Food Administrator Clarence Hall opined that the public act of signing the honor pledge would “impress upon all” the need to save sugar.


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