Just for fun I used the US inflation calculator to calculate what $0.20/gallon would be today. (I assumed the picture was taken in 1920).
Works out to $2.38 / gallon. If the gas prices keep dropping we'll be back to 1920 prices !!
Those inflation calculators are bust. They don't take into account "real" inflation but rather a government calculated index. Many factors are left out of that index.
The 2014 cost of that $0.20 gas is more like $11.89 per gallon. That's based on the price of gold. In 1920, 1/100 ounce bought one gallon of gas. Today, 1/100 ounce is worth $11.89. So you're getting a real bargain.
My dad sold a lot of gasoline in the 1950's for 20 cents a gallon or less during the "gas wars" of that time frame. 20 something gas was quite common until about 1974.
A wage of $5 a day was a very good wage in 1920, even a better wage in the thirties. Twenty cents was an appreciable portion of a days wage for many years.
Gasoline, even at $3 is one of today's bargains. I suspect both wages and prices have risen by a factor of about 10 since 1960.
Have you tried to find a coke for a nickel, or a hamburger for a quarter lately?
I remember a good gas war in the early '80s. A station owner went away for the weekend but, before he left, he told his employee to make certain to keep the price lower than the station across the street no matter what. Eventually, the other station was selling gas for 1 cent a liter and the first station was at 1/10 cent per liter creating impossible lineups at both stations. They both spent Monday adding up their losses.
Most of today's price is taxes. In California we have federal tax, california tax, and on top of those we have california sales tax which is on the tax as well as the gas. I understand that in January a new tax for cap and trade will be added to the price above all the other taxes. We also have a different blend of gas than the other states which costs more to make. And the people keep re-electing those people who pass all those taxes!
Of course the stuff was probably 60 octane at best. So you should really figure that into the cost when compared to today's fuels which are 86/87 octane for comparison. Takes more oil for refineries to make higher grade gasolines.
In late 1962, I was working in a "Supertest" gas station in Marietta, Ga. Gas got down to 19 cents a gallon, and most of us never left the station for three days. The night attendant was
given a shotgun and placed in the storage room where he guarded the money. It seems there was no time to make a bank deposits. The only other time I saw the place covered up with customers when they gave a loaf of bread with every five gallons. We also washed windows, checked the oil and put air in the tires if needed.
Here is a site that shows gasoline taxes by state: