American Gothic #14041

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The Story

On the way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina sits this old roadside country store and gas station. It’s a relic of common travel many years ago before the modern norm of big four lanes, higher speed limits, and glitzy convenience stores that cover an acre or two. How long ago is bookmarked by the rather rusty price on the pumps: sixty and sixty-one cents a gallon. These Esso gas pumps are so old they don’t even have a dollar column on the price dial, yet they wear their see-through weathered white paint well.

The gas pumps are still standing foursquare and firm on their homegrown concrete foundation-with-step combination. The weathered and scruffy building has a rightward creeping lean to it from being built on concrete piers in sandy soil. Over time, an obvious permanent sway has set into its bones.

That lean has stiffened up in the framing timbers and the siding follows right along. Pinched windows reflect blankly. The screen door hangs crookedly in a leaning frame after long suffering under the strain. For a fix, a fat shim attached to the top of the door closes a yawning gap, while a shaved away threshold helps the bottom to make its meet. A tilted closed sign hanging on the door signals this is the retail grand finale.

Today, this country store and gas station sits watching all the summer tourists go by in their cars with the air conditioning running. The place is really more of a museum piece nowadays, stranded out in rural America. No one really wants a bottle of ice-cold RC, a quick sandwich, and a sandy parking lot all that much anymore. Even Esso Corp is a thing of the rusty past.

The Esso gas pumps standing at attention this way reminded me a little of that famous painting of the rural farming couple with a pitchfork, hence the title of American Gothic. You can learn about that well-known painting by Grant Wood here.

A title variation: In God We Rust. Hmm, yes.

A different view of this place is Dripped Dry #13216 …a hand-tinted black and white picture with roughed up edges. It’s an attempt to digitally re-create an old photograph and have it look like it laid around in someone’s stock drawer for 30 years.

Don’t care for Esso gas? You could get some vintage Atlantic gas at this Pennsylvania station called Octane Alley #10226.

Location: near Jarvisburg, Currituck County, North Carolina. Picture and text ©Andrew N Dierks

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