Don't Knock The Blausteins
You can thank these two for a quiet ride in your car.
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Q: Did two Jews create the first
Louis Blaustein (1869-1937)
was born in Russia and came in
1888 to the United States. He
was 14 years old and he didn't
speak a word of English.
Louis began his career
peddling kerosene, then found
work in 1892 with the Standard
Oil Company plant in Baltimore.
In 1910, he left Standard and
founded the American Oil
Company. The business quick-
ly became successful thanks to
Blaustein's foresight in oil . dis-
tribution at a time when cars,
leading users of petroleum, were
developing as the most popular
means of transportation.
Working with Louis was his
son, Jacob (1892-1970), who co-
founded American Oil and
served in various leadership po-
sitions, including president, with
Together the two created the
tankwagon, which was leak
proof and could release differing
amounts of fuel, and the first
Their experiments on an anti-
knock gas began in 1915 with
a "blend of gasoline and benzol,
a volatile byproduct from the
coke ovens of steel mills,"
according to an Amoco newslet-
ter. "For the first real-life test of
this concoction, they gassed up
a company car and began
driving apprehensively down
a Baltimore street. Jacob
was at the wheel. (Ironically,
Louis never learned how to dri-
The men, the article states,
"were delighted that the engine
didn't explode." They called their
Q: Is it true that a Jewish actress
creation "Amoco-Gas," and it be-
came an overnight success.
was the first choice to play Scar-
The family in 1923 sold 50
lett in Gone With the Wind?
percent interest in American
A: "Oh, fiddle-dee-
Oil to Pan
dee, why didn't I
get that role?"
cost: $5 mil-
lion), and two
Levy) must have
and again, because
ling interest in
she was, for a time,
producer David 0.
Both became sub-
sidiaries of Standard Oil (today,
choice for the role.
the Amoco Corp.) in 1954.
She might have gotten the
In addition to their petroleum part, too, but for two things. The
discoveries, both Jacob and first was a protest launched by
Louis were leading philan- a women's group, angry that Ms.
thropists. Jacob made numer- Goddard was having an out-of-
ous donations — all of them wedlock relationship with Char-
anonymously, while Louis lie Chaplin (the two later married,
was active in a number of then divorced). The second issue
Jewish and civic causes, includ- was actress Vivien Leigh. After
ing the American Jewish her impressive screen test, every-
Committee, the United Negro one was convinced she was the
College Fund and the American only one to play Scarlett.
Friends of the Hebrew Univer-
Q:News reports on the nerve-gas
in the Tokyo subway system
Q: Does Halachah include a right
poison used, Sarin, was de-
A: Yes. It is derived from the veloped by Nazi Germany. Is that
mitzvah, "And you shall love what was used in the gas chambers?
your fellow as yourself." (Leviti-
A: No. The gas used to kill mil-
lions of Jews was Zyklon B, an in-
The commandment is wide- secticide produced by the giant
ranging and has many applica- German chemical company, I.G.
tions, including privacy. Most Farben.
Under contract from Hitler, I.G.
rabbis have interpreted it as for-
bidding Jews from reading an- Farben helped develop new and
other's mail, eavesdropping on extremely effective nerve gasses
conversations, looking into called Soman, Sarin and Tabun.
someone else's personal papers, Part of the development called for
opening doors or drawers that testing. German physicians and
are meant to be closed — in scientists at Auschwitz and other
short, practically anything that death camps used Jewish prison-
would violate another person's ers as their test subjects.
The Germans also developed
new and more lethal forms of an-
thrax, cholera, malaria, plague
and typhus, then tested them on
In addition, I.G. Farben es-
tablished in Auschwitz a plant,
using slave labor, to produce syn-
thetic gasoline and rubber. Thou-
sands were worked to death.
After World War II, President
Harry Truman and Gen. Dwight
Eisenhower ordered that the I.G.
Farben company be dismantled.
The orders were ignored, howev-
er, and today I.G. Farben is one
of the biggest chemical compa-
nies in the world. El
Not the standard guys in the gas business, Louis and Jacob Blaustein provided this
and other drivers with a very different ride.
Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
c I o The Jewish News, 27676
Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
48034 or send fax to 354-6069.