A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 06, 2008
“Let the bastards freeze in the dark” & “Drive 80 mph and freeze a Yankee”

"Let the bastards freeze in the dark” (or “Let the Yankee bastards freeze in the dark” or “Let them freeze in the dark") and “Drive 80 mph and freeze a Yankee” (or “Drive 90 mph and freeze a Yankee” or “Drive fast and freeze a Yankee") were bumper stickers that were popular in Texas during the 1973-74 energy crisis.

The bumper sticker “Let them freeze in the dark” appears to have started by a Wyoming company in February 1973. Energy prices were rising, but toughened environmental laws prevented finding more energy sources. The “them” were the environmentalists.

Texans had other reasons (besides environmental restrictions on energy) for “freezing Yankees” in 1973-74. Federal regulations had required supplying Northeast customers with oil and natural gas at regulated prices. Also, Northeast politicians had suggested that Texans should have conserved energy during this out-of-state energy giveaway. The “Drive 80 mph and freeze a Yankee” bumper stickers were popular in Houston at this time.

Wikipedia: 1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis began on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced, as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt (the United States, its allies in Western Europe, and Japan).

The same time, OPEC members agreed to use their leverage over the world price-setting mechanism for oil in order to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the “Seven Sisters” earlier in the month. Because of the dependence of the industrialized world on crude oil and the predominant role of OPEC as a global supplier, these price increases were dramatically inflationary to the economies of the targeted countries, while at the same time suppressive of economic activity. The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency.

5 February 1973, Billings (MT) Gazette, pg. 2, col. 6 ad:
Bumper Stickers for Sale!
ORDER FROM KINTZEL’S, P. O. Box 741, Cooper, WYOMING 82601

18 May 1973, Billings (MT) Gazette, pg. 53?, cols. 3-4:
For a hitchhike on the bumper sticker put out by some of the anti-coal development stockmen last winter (Let the bastards freeze in the dark), a revised version might read “Let the (same word) walk in the cold dark.”

No bicycles either. No cheating.

28 May 1973, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 6D, col. 3:
(New Hampshire Governor—ed.) Thompson may not have heard about the anti-ecologist bumper sticker that is blossoming in some places: “Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark.” But when it crops up in New Hampshire, he will not be surprised.

1 November 1973, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “States Act on Fuel Shortage” by Richard Morehead, section A, pg. 27:
This may account for bumper stickers appearing in Midland-Odessa and some around Austin: “Let the bastards freeze in the dark.”

9 December 1973, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Energy Shortage Elevates Dismay of Fuel-Conscious,” section A, pg. 1:
Feelings that surface in a West Texas message to environmentalists, terse and defiant on a Midland bumper sticker: “Let the bastards freeze in the dark!”

2 January 1974, Albuquerque (NM) Tribune, pg. B5, col. 1:
And local residents in the South, traditionally unsympathetic to Northerners, are spreading the sentiment with a bumper sticker that reads: “Let the bastards freeze in the dark.”

THE FEELING is strongest in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, which together produce three-fourths of the nation’s domestic crude and natural gas. But ironically they are having difficulty supplying energy to customers within these states.

This is because of the bulk of the oil and gas that comes out of thousands of wells that dot these states is committed, under federal control, to out-of-state customers, primarily in the northeast.

15 February 1974, Lowell (MA) , “Texas humor?,” pg. 13, col. 6:
Have you heard that Texans are sporting these stickers on their cars:
“Drive 80 miles an hour and freeze a Yankee”...?

23 March 1974, Brandon (Manitoba) Sun, “The view from Houston” by Molly Ivins, pg. 4, col. 5:
There are more Cadillacs and pick-up trucks on the freeways here than one is likely to see in other parts of the country, and some of those have a bumper sticker that reads: “Let the Yankee bastards freeze.” Texas chauvinism is alive and well in Houston.

25 March 1974, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 4A, cols. 6-7:
THE LOUISIANANS have had to sell their natural gas—a concomitant of oil development—for a low government-controlled price that has amounted to a giveaway. They don’t like it. So they smile grimly at bumper stickers that read: “Let the Yankee bastards freeze in the dark.”

3 April 1974, Dallas (TX) Morning News, Paul Crume’s Big D, section A, pg. 1:
It was back during that cold weather, but there was a sign, says Miles Alexander, on a passing car: “DRIVE 90 MILES AN HOUR. HELP FREEZE A YANKEE.”

31 August 1975, Paris (TX) News, “We Can’t Go It Along (editorial), pg. 8A, col. 1:
If this does come about, there will doubtless be a revival of “Let them freeze in the dark” sentiment, and understandably so. The kind of system that penalizes Texans using gas produced in their own state as opposed to residents of other states using the same gas shipped out of Texas is manifestly unfair.

10 September 1975, Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune and Press, “The Fight For Winter Heat: Or The War Between The States” (United Press International),pg. 1, cols. 1-2: 
Portions of the United States face an energy-scarce winter.

It is compounded by a “war between the states” over the price of natural gas, a wildcat strike by coal miners, and the possibility the Middle East again will turn off the oil pumps that help keep American homes and car fueled.

“Let the b-st-rds freeze in the dark,” proclaim bumper stickers throughout the Gulf States, in response to suggestions that industries in their state shut down partially this winter so natural gas used there can be channeled to Northern states to heat homes.

7 December 1976, Big Spring (TX) Herald, “Oil sectionalism warning,” pg. 3A, col. 5: 
Sherman said he observed during the Arab oil embargo that some autos in some parts of the nation carried bumper stickers which said “Drive 80 m.p.h. and Freeze a Yankee” or “Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark.”

17 January 1977, Big Spring (TX) Herald, “Have people in Northeast learned?” by J. Tom Graham, pg. 4, col. 1:
Remember the bumper sticker:
“Let them freeze in the dark.”

It was a rather crass way of saying that if the people in the northeastern portion of the United States continued to insist that natural gas and oil prices by controlled at all levels which made drilling unreasonable, then let them do without heat.

IF THEY demanded unreasonable tough environmental laws and refused to allow offshore drilling in their own areas, let them do without lights.

In other words, let them freeze in the dark.

23 February 1977, Brandon (Manitoba) Sun, pg. 4, col. 5:
John Frey of Decca Resources of Calgary, who in 1974 printed up the “Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark” bumper-stickers, thinks now the episode was a “momentary digression.” He regrets that he “polarized opinion” but has no regrets that he “let the rest of the country know how angry we were.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Let the bastards freeze in the dark : a novel
Author: Diane Simmons
Publisher: New York : Wyndham Books, ©1980.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Summary: Suspense novel, set in Fairbanks during the pipeline boom, about the take-over and shut down of the power plant.

Google Books
The Real Jimmy Carter
by Steven F. Hayward
Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing
Pg. 44:
With winter fuel oil shortages looming in the northeast, a popular bumper sticker in oil-rich Texas read: “Drive Fast, Freeze a Yankee.”

Google Books
Claytie; The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter
by Mike Cochran
College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press
Pg. 189:
“Bumper stickers such as ‘Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark!’ did not help. In fact, they cost Texas dearly.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, July 06, 2008 • Permalink