Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Surety of Purity ...

As a new reader at six years of age growing up in Beaumont, the first “grown up” sentence I learned to read was, “Be Sure With Pure.” This slogan was on bill boards around town and at service stations. I did not realize at the time that a Pure Oil Company existed. All I knew was that if you wanted to be sure of something you needed to do it with Pure.

I had already heard of Ivory Soap, “the floating soap.” That soap was 99 – 44/100% pure. Guess I just didn’t care enough to ever ask, “Pure what?” But I did figure that if you used soap that pure, you would be sure of lots of things. But mainly I liked the soap because it floated. I always enjoyed taking a bath with Ivory Soap because of its floating characteristic. The soap made a great “ship at sea” in the imagination of this six-year old. But my mother had other ideas. She said the Ivory was strictly for the kitchen so there went my ships.

Somehow growing up with the idea of being sure with Pure has stuck with me all my life. By the time I was 8 years old, I realized that Pure Oil was a refinery and/or a petroleum product. I liked all of the service station logos. Sinclair’s dinosaur always fascinated me. The Texaco Star appealed to me. Made me really proud to be a Texan. And I liked that oval with the word “Humble” written across the middle. And of course I really went for that Flying Red Horse. And have you wondered why the horse is red? And why is there a red “o” in Mobil while the other letters in the word are blue? These were questions I had as a kid and still do not know the answers.

A joke circulated around during my early high school days that went something like this. There was an old refinery worker who decided one day that he should start going to church and get some religion. So the following Sunday he eased into a church service and sat on the back pew. A man stood up on the pulpit and started leading a prayer. He prayed, “Lord, bless the Pure and the Humble.” The newcomer on the back pew yelled out, “And don’t forget the Flying Red Horse.”

Anyway, when I was 15 years old, my family moved from Pipkin Street in South Park to Voth Road (Concord) in north Beaumont. That was quite an adjustment for me as most of my friends lived in South Park. However, as I began looking around my new neighborhood I began to feel more at home. One thing I was especially happy with was that right across the street from our new house was a small business called Barrett’s Grocery. There was a gasoline pump out in front. The big sign on the pole said, “Pure.” So there we were right next to a Pure Oil Station. I felt good about that because it made me feel more confident about our move. In other words I felt, “Sure With Pure.”

The Pure Oil Company has an exciting history. The company furnished all the gasoline for NASCAR racing for years. And then after the merge with Union Oil of California, the name we saw most of the time was Union 76 or Unocal. And gasoline was still furnished for the races, most of it refined at Nederland’s Smith Bluff refinery.

Even though I don’t see anymore Pure Oil signs, I still feel a confidence in life gained from the first sentence I ever learned to read, “Be Sure With Pure.”

Winston Hamby
Published in The Beaumont Enterprise
Saturday, December 16, 2006


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