American Gothic #14041

Matted, canvas, & super high gloss prints available. Questions?


The Story

On the way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina sits this closed-up old roadside country store and gas station. This place is part of old roadside America from back in the day. It’s a relic of common highway travel many years ago before the modern norm of big four lanes, higher speed limits, and glitzy convenience stores that cover a paved-over acre or two. Those modern places aren’t the rural America of long ago. Just how long ago is easily bookmarked by the rather rusty price on the rusty 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 nearly 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 leaning bones and it’s easy to see.

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 clearly the retail grand finale.

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

These 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, and how so.

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 loose in someone’s sock drawer for 30 years.

Don’t care for Esso gas? You could get some vintage Atlantic gas at this old-fashioned and long ago closed Pennsylvania station called Octane Alley #10226For more fossil fuel relics from old roadside America, see my entire Gas Pumps and Gas Stations gallery.

Picture location: near Jarvisburg, Currituck County, North Carolina. Picture and story ©Andrew N Dierks

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