1. Anonymous
    February 21, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

    There is little doubt that the 76 ball is a California icon. However, while perserving icons is important, it crucial that we do so in a way that recognizes the history associated with those icons. In this way, we must not save the 76 ball without recognizing the horrific human rights abuses committed with the support of this company.

    In the 1990s, Unocal contracted with the Burmese army to provide security during the construction of a new pipeline. Under the watch of Unocal and with Unocal’s knowledge, the Burmese army systematically murdered, raped, and forced people to work. Unocal recently paid some victims for damages.

    While one could conceivably argue that the 76 ball had nothing to do with murder, rape and slavery, it represents a company that was complicit in these atrocities. I urge you to consider this in your campaign.

    Thank you,

    Amber Norris
    Washington, DC

    For more informamtion:

    The human rights group that brought suit against Unocal: http://www.earthrights.org/


    • Anonymous
      May 15, 2006 @ 2:16 am

      Your comment is typical of a DC liberal who can not seperate ANYTHING from loon policy and beliefs. You even have to junk up this interesting and worthy site with you Anti-oil, Anti-American blather.

      Go rant and rave on one of your liberal blogs and leave us 76 Ball fans and CAPTIALISTS alone!

      Mat–Virginia—Outside DC and sane.


  2. Anonymous
    February 21, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

    I’ve just posted an entry about your efforts:

    And thank you for your efforts, as well as the Urge Overkill nod!


  3. Anonymous
    February 22, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

    1) ConocoPhillips does not own the 76 Brand, they are only the national marketer. If you want to fix this, you must contact Unocal/Chevron and convince them to reassert their ability to do the 76 Marketing.

    2) There are still 76 stations that will not be switching to the lame red circle, many 76 stations are still under contract with Unocal not CP, these stations don’t even appear on CP’s website. Regardless of what CP does, the 76 ball will survive at these stations.


    • Anonymous
      March 2, 2006 @ 6:35 am

      While Chevron owns the 76 brand for exploration and production, they do not own the 76 brand for marketing and refining. Unfortunately Conoco Phillips owns the 76 logo and name for all downstream marketing and refining operations, including service stations. . What is happening now is that Conoco Phillips is replacing the orange ball logo at all Union 76 stations that it directly owns and operates. It supplies all the other Union 76 stations, but those that are dealed owned and operated are under no immediate pressure to replace the 76 logo. My understanding though is that Conoco Phillips will no longer supply replacements for 76 Orange Balls that wear out and need replacing.


  4. Anonymous
    March 10, 2006 @ 4:39 am

    If the 76 ball goe`s so do i as a customer


  5. Anonymous
    March 11, 2006 @ 1:32 am

    76 ball on a pole is ugly and any change to get rid of it is good.


  6. Anonymous
    March 11, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

    I am sure you can dig up dirt on any company. Our interest in saving the Ball signage, and has nothing at all to do with the company, what it is or what it was. I doubt there isn’t anyone who really cares about Union Oil, Phillips, or Conoco unless they work there. It is the trademark sign we want to save that has been part of lives, and OUR AMERICAN HISTORY for decades. We have seen many great American Companies change hands, or go out of business altogher. May great logos are now gone. He must hold on to what is left of our great Amercian Company History.
    Phillips/Conoco will on longer replace the aging balls for dealers that want to keep them, yet they will spend millions changing out signage,that doesn’t need replacement, and repaing stations,changing colors that don’t need a change. Seems some young exec is trying to make a name for himself. What an idiot. Probably some kid that got into the company because his father works there.
    The ball is one of the, of not the best logo around. Remember the antenna balls. What great advertising! No other company has had such a unique, versatile logo. Every other logo ends up as a bumper sticker. I hope the big wigs at Conoco Phillips open their eyes,get some balls, and fire the guy who came up with this change. If it aint’t broke, don’t fix it! Save your balls!


  7. osbornauto
    March 12, 2006 @ 6:19 am

    I’m a former 76 dealer from Southern California. I have owned 4 different stations and managed 3 others since the early 80’s.

    The ball was first introduced at the Worlds Fair in December of 1962 and the response was so good that they decided to use it at stations. My station (#5027) was the first to get the rotating ball. I was not the dealer then, but I do have the 76 Magazine cover page from March of 1963 showing the new look and it is of my station in Redondo Beach.

    It lasted until October 31st, 2001 when it was removed. The oil company decided that the station had no longer been profitable and decided to close it. The station & the pole are still there, but the fence around it shows it’s closed. (1870 S. Elena Ave, Redondo Beach)

    I have all the history of the antenna ball on my website at:
    http://www.osbornauto.com/76balls.htm if you are interested. The information was compiled from many sources, including Fred Hartley, a past CEO of Union Oil who was around during those years.

    Scott Osborn

    An Ex 76 dealer from Redondo Beach (The first 76 ball!)


    • Anonymous
      May 17, 2006 @ 5:28 am

      One of my fave memories was listening to Vin Scully do the commentary on Dodger baseball during summer vacation. Union Oil was a sponsor, although I barely realized it at the time. But I still remember the jingle, and in case you don’t, it went like this:
      “You always get the finest
      The very best, the finest
      At the sign of the 76
      Whether you stop in for water or air
      To powder your nose or comb your hair.
      You always get the finest
      The very best, the finest
      At the sign of the 76.
      It’s orange and blue,
      So look for that Union
      Sign of the finest —
      The sign of the 76.”


  8. Anonymous
    March 22, 2006 @ 3:25 am

    Well?? ARE you going to consider it? Or are you just another oil whore? Be a citizen of the Earth, why not? Or are you too f’ing arrogant?


  9. Anonymous
    March 31, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

    Having been born and raised in NJ, I’ve only spotted The Ball firsthand on a road trip out west 20 years ago, but I remember watching stock car races on tv as a kid and recall that the Ball was installed at some of the tracks. I always thought it looked cool, it’s just an eye-catching and attractive device. I don’t know how much fruit this campaign will bear but I wish you all the best. Hacky in NJ


  10. Anonymous
    May 14, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

    I’ll miss seeing that orange ball slowly revolving in the sky. Come to think of it, do they still revolve? I’ve only seen the static ones recently. A lot of communities now have rules against signs like the 76 ball. Perhaps it’s just a sign of the times? Hmmm.


  11. Anonymous
    May 15, 2006 @ 2:05 am

    NASCAR got rid of all the 76 balls at the tracks when Sunoco took over the fuel supply for them. My wife and I got engaged in the turn 3 Unocal 76 observation tower at The Talladega Superspeedway. I hated to see them all get torn down, and now, as someone who lived in L.A. I fear the ball is doomed. I shall have to hang on to my little styrofoam antennae balls as a momento. Mat Toenniessen–Virginia


  12. Anonymous
    May 15, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

    It is encouraging that an individual took the initative to create a group that will preserve these neat icons. The 76 station on the corner of Brea Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue, their 76 ball does not even rotate. Seeing that rotating 76 sign would cheer my day up. I am behind your cause 100%.


  13. Anonymous
    May 19, 2006 @ 5:03 pm

    It took a couple of trips past the “76” station at Moraga & Sepulveda for me to fully register “what was DIFFERENT, WRONG?” . . . the orange signage darkened to cheerless, somber, RED… What on earth , why?? I am surprised and glad to learn that others are disappointed and even angry. “76” is losing its bright, glowing, optimistic visual appeal to a somber, sterile, ordinary image , which is no fun to look at, and in fact, more difficult to see.
    – Renee Merar – Santa Monica CA


  14. Anonymous
    June 13, 2006 @ 3:51 am

    Thanks greatly for reading this. I’m a logo-designer/graphic-designer…antique-car artist… gas-station/country-store artist…Disney-style character-designer…(despite living in Appalachian, N.W. Alabama…not greater L.A.)…and Christian soc. work volunteer…who had submitted the petition, which accused ConocoPhillips of “cowardice.” Yes, cowardice—for having been silent to the press. Until very recently…and then, only in the form of a (rather evasive) written statement. I can’t STAND that in a corporate business!…unless a lawsuit is involved. That’s bad enough for any corporate action which hurts historic preservation; what if a corporation refuses to comment on human-rights abuses which its name is connected with? But more about that in another E-mail, another day….

    This E-mail is not important; it’s just that I found information on the way by which Union Oil arrived at her famous “76′ trademark. Even though this road-map collector wasn’t around before 1964…you know, Union Oil used “76” numerals decades before they glued ’em to styrofoam balls, soccer balls, or wall-mounted, Plexiglas, “contact-lenses.” In fact…the navy-blue “76” numerals (on an orange background) weren’t even the first Union Oil logo! Turns out that a corporate executive, who had recently emigrated to the States, became fascinated with American history…and that his suggestion coincided with the then-octane-rating of Union Oil’s all-new, Ethyl grade. That was back in 1932!

    According to The 76 Bonanza (Lane Magazine & Book Co., 1966), Earl M. Welty & Frank J. Taylor wrote thus: “For many years, the familiar trademark of Union Oil was a striped shield.” (p.203) “To free their retail outlets from ruinous, price-war competition, the Union refineries gave them a gasoline they could talk about…an improved motor fuel of the highest octane, or anti-knock, rating…at the time. The marketing department decided that (it)…should have a distinctive name. After spirited discussions, (a Union executive-meeting)…decided upon “76”—the suggestion of Robert D. Matthews, (a) persuasive young Welshman, who had been boning-up on American history (in order) to qualify for his citizenship-papers.” (Paraphrased & re-punctuated from pp. 202 & 203.)

    The Company’s wholehearted acceptance of its new corporate symbol, alas, didn’t bring immediate success for everybody. The “76” logo neither propelled Robt. Matthews himself to the presidency of Union oil. Nor did the U.S. Patent-Office immediately recognize it!

    As far as the former, surprising consequence: Sadly, it seems like Matthews was much better at accounting than he must have been at, say, consensus-building (or possibly at being a “people-person” of any sort).
    Robert Matthews (first hired as a young comptroller in 1913…coincidentally, when retail “fillin’ stations” just started) had risen steadily since then…to become Union Oil’s Executive V.P. by 1936. (See p. 206.) Evidently, however, “…Matthews developed a flair for high-handed operation, frequently ignoring the president and the executive committee completely. These tactics, resented by his associates, doomed Matthews’ dream of (someday) becoming Union’s president.” (Paraphrased from p. 206.) Evidently, cliques also developed within Unocal’s upper-management (coincidentally, in the Depression’s sharp return of 1937)—and Matthews led one of these cliques.

    (Antique-auto, tractor, or truck, & performance-car-collectors who will visit this site—esp. Fomoco-collectors—might recall other famous “fissures” within corporate halls of power. Specifically, those which involved another accountant named “Robert”: Bob McNamara, the “bean-counter” among Henry Ford II’s “Whiz Kids” of 1945-’46. Yes, cliques DID develop among McNamara’s accountants…with Lee A. Iacocca’s Engineering guys, Marketing men, and dealer-network men…with the horsepower-lovin’ “car-guys”…and with George Walker’s Styling Dept. (both of whom eventually gave us the 1955 Thunderbird & 1955-’56 Lincoln Continental), &c., &c. According to both Iacocca’s 1986 autobiography and a later, Ford-family biography by David Horowitz, Henry Ford II loved to play one Executive V.P. off another. However, I am unaware of whether or not Unocal’s management “fissures” of 1936-’37 were as serious as, say, Fomoco/Dearborn’s cliques, 20 yrs. later. Those would hurt Ford Division & Ford Tractor dealers—and esp. Lincoln/Edsel/Mercury dealers!—by the recession of 1957-’58.)

    Returning to Union Oil, and to 1937: In the end, it was a former steel-executive…one Reese H. Taylor…who became Union Oil’s president, and later corporate C.E.O. (Probably because he had led Unocal’s heroic contributions to the Allies, during World War II.)
    If you’re a magazine-collector like myself: It was Taylor who gave birth to the Company’s once-famous ads, which announced: “America’s Fifth Freedom is Free-Enterprise.” (Oh, yeah?) It seems that Taylor spent six, seven months in Washington in 1942…and the experience infuriated him. “Businessmen have so much trouble in Washington, primarily because…government-people don’t understand what makes business function.” (See pp. 218, 219). (Taylor’s observation sounds odd to me. Business-lobbies seem to be successful at getting Congressional ears…as well as V.P. Dick Cheyney’s ears…enjoying successes that educational, human-rights, scientific, & religious lobbies are still dreaming, hoping, & aching for.) Anyway, Taylor commissioned a series of ads which explained how free-market capitalism “benefitted everybody,” esp. through one industry…and one Corporation. To Unocal’s great credit, the Company did help-out “little guys”—small, bulk-plant-jobbers, jobber-owned stations, & dealer-owned country-stores (and tiny, wholesale-suppliers to the Company itself)—when they ran out of dough (pp. 219, 231-233).
    Today, since those ads (in Glorious Black-&-White) neither announced Royal 7600 gas, nor Royal Triton motor oil, they usually command under $5.00 in today’s flea-markets (and on eBay). But in 1943–the public liked them so much (and they eventually did move so much product!) that Unocal used this basic format into 1964.

    Oops! Speakin’ of advertising…back to the “76”: Back in 1932, six state-capitals—in Oregon, Wash. St., Idaho, Nevada, & Arizona, as well as Calif.—did register Union’s orange-&-blue logo. You’re right: all were within the Company’s marketing-area. But: “…the (U.S.) Patent-Office rejected it; on the grounds that “76” might be construed as the octane-rating…and hence (that “76”) could not be the exclusive property of Union Oil.” (See p. 203; italics mine.) Unocal probably tried for years; not until 1950 did the U.S. Patent-Office finally certify “one of Union’s most valued, if intangible, assets.” (Also p. 203.)

    As for the facelifts? Union Oil dressed its “76” into ast least three facelifts before the one we’re familiar with. By 1933, the orange/navy “76” was first used on the once-famous Union Oil shield. (Remember seeing this on replicated-pump decals?) Then, by 1935, in neon, atop Unocal’s gorgeous white towers (with twin canopies that announced “Stop-Wear Lubrication”). Then, by 1939, on a striped, orange rectangle…often wired for neon itself! Sometime between 1947 & the official U.S. Govt. patent of 1950, the orange background finally compressed into its now-famous disc-shape. (By then…years before the 1965 mega-merger…Unocal began to market Triton & Royal Triton motor-oils to motorists east of the Rockies; see p. 230.) “UNION” in tiny, white lettering was added later, like an afterthought. (Except for the now-famous canopy signs, often called “boulevard signs,” used on company-owned stations by 1955.)
    They must have seemed an afterthought to retail motorists! In 1962, Union Oil’s V.P. (of Refining & Marketing) enlarged the “UNION” block-letters and streamlined the “76” numerals “after a poll revealed that a good many patrons were referring to Union Oil Company as ‘the 76 Company.'” (p. 271)
    That man—one Fred L. Hartley—had developed the Company’s patented “Unifining” process. Basically, Unifining made petroleum distillates from so-called “sour crude” (heavy sulfur?) as pure as those from the “light sweet crude” you hear about on financial-news broadcasts. And refined ’em faster than any competitor could do in the mid-1950s! (See page 249.) So, other petro-giants paid Unocal huge royalties to license the Unifining process in their refineries, too.
    After 1959…when then-chairman Reese Taylor invited Hartley to become Executive V.P. of Refining & Marketing…Hartley applied this same genius to retail-marketing. It was during the early 1960s that Union Oil constructed the L.A. Dodgers baseball-park gas-station, that some of you fellow “bloggers” have mentioned. (And a giant, storage “baseball” at one of their refineries, too!) The Union Oil Foundation followed in 1962 (see p. 277)…finally bringing the Company into the civic & charitable-donation field throughout Alaska, Hawaii, and other states west of the Rockies.
    So, President (and later C.E.O.) Fred Hartley had as much to do with applying the “76” to an orange sphere as Ray Pedersen did. (Even though I’m proud to be in Mr. Pedersen’s line of work!) Because of The 76 Bonanza’s publishing-date (again, 1966), it never mentioned the late-1960’s facelift…76’s last…until recently. (Regardless of your opinion or mine, about that red color!) Was that the giant Young & Rubicam, who facelifted the “76 meatball” around 1968?
    In any event, I might have been only five when the Plexiglas, 76 “contact lenses” and fiberglass discs began to replace Pure Oil discs, here in N.W. Alabama. (And Pure Oil was one of my two favorite brands to feature in doodles of country-stores, as a toddler. The older, pre-1957, Pure disc was one of my two favorite brands to cut out of road-maps and to “keep,” as I do today with chrome-emblems, plastic-signs, & early road-maps themselves.) However—while I was five—my very first attempt at either cartooning or graphic-design was a “storyboard” of a T.V. commercial. What did it tease the public about? Why, those “76” antenna balls, of course!

    37 years since 1969, I’m ex-TREME-ly happy that Unocal (or ChevronTexaco) did talk to the press about atrocities in Burma. (Please see Amber Norris’ splendid comment, on behalf of http://www.earthrights.org.) Because—as (I hope) a born-again Christian—I thoroughly share Mr. Norris’ concern. Very soon, I plan to thank him personally in a “Reply.”
    Later, to the rest of you: I have two more questions to ask about the original creators of some “76” facelifts, from what I’ve read in the past. Also, I’m still trying to gather research (esp. on current preservation efforts) about gas/oil collectors’ and historic preservationists’ closest counterpart to “Save the ’76’ Balls,” east of the Missouri River: Pure Oil’s white/navy “cottages.” Please remember, all of you: I’m looking everywhere for a hard-acrylic, “Union 76” disc, embossed & wall-mounted, originally from a 1960s’ “ranch-house” station. (Whether, today, it’s from a sign-company’s warehouse, or a jobber’s warehouse, or a flea-market!) Those of us who specialize in collecting & trading plastic-only, gas/oil signs (only some five to ten of us across USA) aren’t doing NEARLY as much as Mr. Marsak’s & Mrs. Cooper have done. These two deserve ALL our thanks…our biggest thanks!

    Happy Father’s Day, (Jewish) Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost, and July 4th,
    Michael Shepherd Studio
    Ephesians 2: 8–10
    jcross@watvc.com; shepcartoon@hotmail.com


    • Anonymous
      June 13, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

      Michael – correct, Y&R did the 1967 logo redesign. This is covered in detail in my interview with Ray in the latest CTO! issue.



  15. Anonymous
    August 29, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

    Those photos of the 76 station on Oahu bring tears to my eyes! I was born and raised in Honolulu and we always used to fill up at that exact 76 station. As a kid, the big orange ball was a comfort to me. I used to have a big collection of bright, orange 76 antenna balls.

    I’ll be returning to Oahu in October for my wedding and I’m sad that I won’t be able to see the ball that I so loved as a child.

    Thomas J. Brown


  16. Anonymous
    August 31, 2006 @ 1:46 am

    Are you kidding me? I guess some people just really do have way too much time on thier hands. How about worrying about something relevant!get a life.


    • Anonymous
      August 31, 2006 @ 1:49 am

      Yeah, how about worrying about how the oil companies are raping us at the pumps rather than what logo they use!


  17. Anonymous
    September 3, 2006 @ 6:49 am

    Thanks greatly for reading this. Am that visual-artist (and soc. work volunteer, usually in Art Therapy & Music therapy), from N.W. Alabamawhere we’ve seen our share of Unocal-76 contact lenses.” Yes, and even a few balls, too, after 1969!

    You mean you ain’t no convenience-store manager? digital-pump installation & repair place? car ‘n truck repairman? They’re th’ usual gas-station-antiques-collectors! Don’t get me wrong; they’re all REAL men (and women, also!)and I admire those blue-collar people. Remember, though, that graphic-layoutcorporate-identityantique-car illustrationslandscapes of pre-1975 gas-stations, country-stores, & car/truck dealershipsthese all make up a large portion of my work, and I still want to break free of rural Alabama, to study both auto-design and animation. (If I can ever afford graduate-school!)

    Why I explained my work: Am still looking for advice on how to E-mail your snapshots & artwork to this blog-site. Oh, Mrs. Cooper & Mr. Marsak have asked for both submissions, all right—but, sadly, neither of them told us the steps, the technique by which to do just that—when an Internet toolbar has no Attach paper-clip symbol. (I’ve been told that this toolbar symbol enables you to E-mail visuals that you d once saved in My Documents or My Pictures.”)

    Remember that–as I’d stated in early August–we now have snapshots ofwell, practically Easterners‘, Midwesterners‘, & Southeasterners’ counterpart to 76-ball preservation, viz.: Pure Oil’s navy-roofed, white “cottages,” from 1927 into W. W. II. (Those which have survived, that is!) Just for good measure, I included an ee-NOR-mous, 76 “contact-lens”—double-sided, with fluorescent bulbs—in the outdoor-yard of a fellow-pop-culture-collector (who’s trying to sell it).

    Since Fayette’s Arts/Crafts/Music Festival kept me busy for five months(until last Saturday afternoon), I sadly regret that I have no finished, completed, Union Oil-related artwork…either inked or completed in watercolors. Meantime, among my snapshots of past-canvasses (for Fayette Arts Festivals since 2000)—I do have two, Pure Oil/Woco-Pep country-stores; one of them closed-down with the 1970s’ fuel-shortages. Fortunately, the second one has benefitted from Pure Oil’s comeback after 1992; as a weak marketer, perhapsbut as a “comeback-kid,” nonetheless!

    A little later onnow that the Arts Festival is (whew!) FINALLY over (and since I design characters in the MGM/Warners/Disney squash-&-stretch and anticipatory-action)…I hope to incorporate a “Save the 76 Ball” theme within one of my inked-samples, of my proposed comic-strip, Pack-Rat, intended for antiques-collectors’ magazines. Remember, too, that I have a series of twenty-four, gas-station watercolorsfrom which I print hand-signed, color-photocopies on business-card stock. When my twenty-sixth watercolor is FINALLY completeI’ll present that to all of you, also! It showcases a white, Art Moderne/Art Deco, “Union Oil Dealer” station–with its “76” tower soaring 40 feet into space. Among the vehicles who pull-up for service, are two trucks: One reads “Paramount News;” the other truck (for a local radio-repair-shop) advertises Columbia Graphophones & Radios.”
    This watercolor is one of my very few attempts at 1920s’ animation-type cartooning, such as Nicktoons (you know; Viacom, MTV, CBS, Simon & Schuster, and all that) recently used for My Life as a Teenage Robot. Even the two truck-drivers & gas-pump-jockeys will be inside-jokes of Nicktoons & Frederator personnel! Now, it’ll take me a few months to complete (little-by-little, off-&-on)so I hope to please all of you!

    Whew! Yeah, I am a little curious about tips on E-mailing photos & artwork to blog-sites like this fine, splendid Web-sitefrom any member who knows how….

    Thank you all in advance, for putting-up with my wordiness! Please forgive me for it. Don’t Mrs. Cooper & Mr. Marsek deserve admiration & thanks from all of us? In the meantime, I’ve two more things to ask all of you—but I’d better wait until later, this long weekend. My attempts to get this “HTML” correct have simply taken too long (just like this E-mail!) and I do have five, small, collector-car watercolors to complete, for a specialty-car-collector from industrial-Pennsylvania. A friendly guy with a brass, “GULF” disc (once screwed onto Bennett pumps from 1937-’41)—with my name on it!
    And both photocopies & snapshots to mail, to staff-members of both (A.)Alabama’s only “petroliana” swap-meet…and (B.)our state’s only, animation fans’/cartoonists’/”furry-fandom” convention. If only (sigh!) they biologically, genetically, really existed!

    Wishing a happy Labor Day to ALL of you,
    Michael Shepherd Studio
    Ephesians 2: 8-10


    • kim
      September 4, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

      Michael, if you go over to our Forum and create a user account, you will be able to add imagery to the fan art section. Here is the link:

      Save the 76 Ball Forum 


  18. Anonymous
    September 6, 2006 @ 12:22 am

    I too liked the 76 ball.But with the rising gas prices I COULD CARE LESS about what sign Conoco/Phillips uses for their stations.I’ll go to the station with the lowest prices.


  19. Anonymous
    September 22, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

    Have I dropped into Short Attention Span theater? It has not been all that long ago when Unocal was in court trying to explain why they weren’t responsible for the slave labor the brutal government of Myanmar (aka as Burma) used to build an oil pipeline Unocal had a major interest in. The government of Myanmar dragooned entire villages along the length of the pipeline and forced them to do backbreaking manual labor at the point of a gun. Men, women, and children died on that pipeline project. As far as I’m concerned, that ball represents the worst of America’s amoral corporations. They have blood on their hands.


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