Hard to believe we’re almost halfway through the month of December already! Things are gearing up for Christmas – items checked off lists, cookies are baked, and travel plans arranged.
If so, you’ll appreciate the nostalgia of this week’s Weird Word. It’s lubitorium and chances are, you’ll need a modern variation of one somewhere during your trip.
A lubitorium is a service station. For today’s purposes, I’m not talking about the mini-marts sprinkled along America’s highways, convenience stores where you can fill up your gas tank, then head inside for bakery, coffee, a gallon of milk or even rent a movie if your heart desires.
No, the lubitorium I’m talking about is the kind I remember from childhood, the one where a bell sounded inside the shop when your car pulled alongside the gas pump. A uniformed attendant would trot out, ask how much gas you wanted, then proceed to clean the windshield while the gas was being pumped. There was often a service bay on the side of the building, where mechanics worked on cars.
And boy, oh, boy, did companies outdo themselves trying to make their lubitoriums stand out from the competition. Wadham’s Filling Station built pagoda-style stations, and other companies developed themed buildings, all designed to bring in business.
American’s highway system spread after President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which authorized construction of a network of highways across the country. That expansion allowed people to travel farther, faster; this, coupled with the gas crises of the 1970s, signaled the decline of lubitoriums as we knew them.
But we can still have fun saying lubitorium! You can even bewilder your traveling companions by using the word in a sentence as you’re driving along:
“Honey, I’d like to stop at a lubitorium before we reach Aunt Myrtle’s house.”
Get ready for the weird looks and have safe travels!