While photographing a 1969 Buick Riviera on Long Island recently for a forthcoming feature in Hemmings Classic Car magazine, the car owner, Eric Sporrer, showed me some of the many pieces of original Buick-related literature that he has collected through the years. This one particular piece, which I never knew existed, I found very interesting, and somewhat entertaining.
It’s an Emergency Balloon Kit. Printed on the bottom of the envelope: “A product of the Cy Prisyon Co., Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230”. The space where car dealers would stamp their company’s name, shows that this particular kit had been given away at Arnold Buick on West Montauk Highway in Babylon, New York; Babylon is a town on the south shore of Long Island.
Peeking inside the now-brown envelope I saw the three original balloons. I tried to remove them to take a photograph, but they were stuck to the inside of the envelope, so I left them alone.
As stated, if you were stuck on the highway and needed medical attention, you inflated the red balloon. An inflated green balloon meant you needed the assistance of the police. And for mechanical aid, the car owner would inflate the blue balloon. Once inflated, the balloons would then be attached to your car’s radio antenna.
Back in the day, this was a motorist’s version of a boater’s distress signal. However, I wonder just how many people and organizations really knew what these balloons signified. Did any readers experience such an emergency “balloon” alert?