In the early weeks of the 1974 energy crisis, every driver was forced to draw up a plan every time they left the house. While the 3- and 4- hour gas lines seen in some parts never came to Milford, lines did back up a half hour to an hour as cars snaked out of stations and down the streets. Stations began to limit customers to $3 of gas to discourage so-called “gas hogs” who were filling to the brim. Even so, local pumps were often bone dry by 11am or Noon and an even/odd license plate system was implemented at some stations. Others simply closed for good. This left Milford with just a single fully functioning station for a while, forcing drivers to get out the foldable maps and circle around hoping to get lucky.
Drivers were on edge. The Cabinet’s “Rambling Reporter” column reported that in one witnessed traffic jam, “a car up ahead pulled out of line and Immediately half a dozen cars lined up behind, assuming the first car was getting gas.”
And leaving Milford no longer meant just jumping in the car and heading out for the highway. The Cabinet told of the logistical nightmare that was one driver’s Florida road trip. “Every time the tank got below a quarter full, we started looking for gas. You may wait an hour and then have the station close just as you get to the pump. In one small town in New York, we went to three different stations to get 12 gallons, as each station had a $2 limit – didn’t get out of town until 9:30. Many motels in the Carolinas and Georgia were guaranteeing a full tank of gas to all their guests.”
The energy crisis seemed to dominate every page of the Milford paper in early ‘74. The editorial page was defending economic conservation, criticizing a proposed 4-day school week as a means to save energy (“A lot of things strike us as less essential than the schools”), and even defending the paper's own rationing system for a gifted electric pencil sharpener. Advertisements also seemed to be all about energy. Nashua Honda advised, “Don’t let the gas shortage keep you home – buy a Honda motorcycle while still available,” and Chappell Tractors on Route 13 pointed out that “Elec-Trak Tractors don’t use a drop of gas!”
The fluctuations in the market would eventually push the energy crisis off the front pages and largely out of American minds – at least until it all happened again five years later.