Home away from home

| October 05, 2001

For Carolyn Moon, as for her late husband Bill, a truck stop will never be merely a moneymaker. “We really try to be a home away from home, especially for truckers, because it can be a lonely life sometimes,” she says. “People come in who are hungry, and we feed them. People come in who need help, and we help them. People come in who are tired, and they have a place to stay. People come in who are lonely, and we talk to them and are nice to them. Truck stops are just a necessary industry. We do a lot of good.”

The Pure chain played a major role in truck stop evolution.

Pure and simple: Build a better mouse trap — By Guy Kudlemyer

Remember the old Pure sign? For thousands of truckers in the ’50s and ’60s, to find satisfactory truck stop accommodations meant to “Be Sure With PURE.”

Under the leadership of Jerry Sanner, the Pure chain played a major role in raising the truck stop from a mere 24-hour restaurant with a lot of parking to a gleaming drivers’ palace. “Sometimes I have been criticized for making things too plush or fancy,” Sanner wrote, “But these critics have had to eat their words every time.”

By Overdrive’s inaugural year of 1961, Pure Oil operated more than a tenth of the nearly 2,000 truck stops in the United States. Pure’s advertisements of the early ’60s spoke of “The best cup of coffee on the road: PURE’s Blue Ribbon cup of coffee”; “Delicious meals fit for a king”; “air conditioned roomettes”; and services that included barbershops, truckers’ stores and linoleum-tiled lounges.

Pure merged with Union Oil in 1965. Four years later, the company announced it would drop the Pure name, renaming all its present and future truck stops as Union 76 outlets. Today, several mergers and acquisitions later, many of the old Pure locations are part of TravelCenters of America. In the 1990s the Pure brand was revived for a chain of Southeastern gas stations, but the Pure truck stop is only a memory.

Guy Kudlemyer of Thurston, Ore., is an expert in “petroliana.”

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