Oil Can Stilts, Did You Ever?

Back in the 1950s metal motor oil cans were everywhere and there were no American Pickers can collectors to gobble them up. Look behind most service stations and you’d find a pile of discarded oil cans leaking their remaining contents onto a thoroughly saturated and toxic plot of soil. I don’t know what eventually happened to these piles of cans but I guess junkmen came along and hauled them to Charley Cohen’s.

Pure Oil motor oil can from the ’50s.

In Greenfield, Ohio some portion of them disappeared attached to the soles of kid’s shoes. We boys would occasionally stop out back of Buck’s Pure Oil Station, grab a couple of cans per kid, lay them on their sides, and stomp a foot onto each. If you were accurate enough the can’s edges would wrap up around your shoe’s soles and voila, you had yourself a pair of oil can stilts to sport as you walked around town. I did a pretty thorough Google search but couldn’t find any pictures showing this so possibly it was something unique to Greenfield. (NOTE: Barbara Price Hendricks found the photo at the bottom and emailed it to me)

Style of Pure Oil station similar to Buck’s at corner of S. Washington & Mirabeau.

At some point, metal cans were replaced with paper cans and later plastic bottles. When this change occurred, I’m not sure but I do know that in the early 1970s there were still some to be found. A friend, John Royse, was frequently seen after dark, riding his motorcycles through town while wearing cans clamped to his shoes. When there was a crowd assembled he’d begin his high-speed run and as he approached the crowd he’d take his feet off the cycle’s footrests and firmly place them on the asphalt. The resulting shower of sparks more than rivaled the passing of Haley’s Comet. I did find a short video (below) that demonstrates what John was doing but it’s not nearly as impressive.

Tin can stomp-on stilts….Greenfield style! Thanks to Barbara Price Hendricks for finding this photo. 

If you enjoyed this article please click the Share on Facebook icon below. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.