At first blush, it looks like the child swallowed the parent. The Standard Oil Co. of Indiana, one of the units of the old Standard Oil trust that was busted up by a Supreme Court decision in 1911, has just renamed itself -- and the name is one that was created, grew and flourished here in the Washington-Baltimore area.
Standard of Indiana is now the Amoco Corp. And Amoco was, as local long-timers will recall, a retailer begun from scratch by a Russian Jewish immigrant who started selling gasoline from a horse-drawn cart in Baltimore in 1910.
From Louis Blaustein's humble beginnings came the American Oil Co., then the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Co., which compressed its original initials into a brand name -- AM (for American), O (for oil) and CO (for company). For a long time, before the Amoco name was coined, the company sold its products at 70 Lord Baltimore service stations in the region. Who among Metro Scene readers remembers?
Louis Blaustein died in 1937. His son Jacob, who served in various diplomatic capacities under presidents of both parties, died in 1970 after control of the firm had passed to Standard of Indiana. The firms were merged in 1954. Amoco, ahead of its time, pioneered the sale of unleaded gasoline.
Standard tried for a time in the 1960s to change the name Amoco to American, but sales plummeted. The old name was restored.
Why did corporate parent Standard change its name last week to that of the firm it long ago acquired, Amoco? Ralph Stow, media representative for the firm in Washington, said "it's one of public identity . . . the holding company was Standard, but all the operating companies were now called Amoco companies."
Comparably, Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey) changed its name to Exxon, its principal brand, as did Standard Oil Co. of California, which adopted the name of its brand, Chevron.
Where nowadays, one might ask, are Standards?