The One-Stop-Shop

One Stop Shop One Stop Shop One Stop Shop

Is there anything better than the sites on a rural highway when driving through the US?  I’ve been by this particular place several times going from our home in Bucks County to Lehigh University for lacrosse tournaments.   Last weekend, as we drove by, I said to my son, we have to stop on the way home!  My kids and husband expect these type of delays.  If we don’t stop and I don’t at least get to attempt to capture a subject I toss it around in my mind for a bit.

I loved the images in black and white because I felt that the vintage nature of the facility was enhanced.  The sun flare gave an eery, almost supernatural feel to the one-stop-shop that appears to be approaching dilapidation, or even possibly abandonment.

Can you envision people sitting out front in between the gas pumps and the front door on old metal, formerly brightly painted chairs?  I can hear them talking about the amount of rain or lack there of, how the crops are doing, how the old man down the road is being visited by his long-lost son, about Mary planting her garden, and about who just gave birth.   In fact…

It’s a hot July afternoon.  The local meeting spot, The One-Stop-Shop, is humming with the sound of fans. Other than that, it’s a quiet country afternoon.  Two men are sitting out front holding a conversation in old metal chairs, one red, the other a faded mint green.  Rust covers the back of the chairs, both in need of fresh paint.  One of the men has a pipe in between his teeth and the other a bottle of Coke-a-Cola in his hand resting on the arm of the chair.  As a woman pulls in to fill her tank with gas, the man with the Coke sits the bottle on the ground and offers to pump the gas for her.  She says “fill her up please” and hands the man a five-dollar bill.  Her ’72 Chevy Impala has a relatively small tank and she doesn’t have far to go.   She proceeds inside with her little boy who is going to get a hair cut from Bob, the local barber, while she grabs a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs and catches up on the local happenings with Jane, the clerk.

Once the gas is pumped, the oil checked and the windshield cleaned, the man sits back into his chair, takes a long drink of his warming Coke from the now perspiring bottle, and says to the gentleman next to him, “It’s too bad what happened to that there family.  She seems to be doin’ OK.  I sure hope it all works out.  Don’t you?”

Before the man with the  pipe responds, Jimmy walks out with his fresh “#1 all over” hair cut, all proud and handsome.  His mama follows with her bag of groceries and a smile on her rose-colored lips.  The two climb into the car, mama in the front, Jimmy in the back, and drive off into the haze of the hot summer sun.

Short story copyright Robyn Graham

Have a fabulous weekend, and for those of you who enjoy black and white photography, please stop by “Monochromia” and check out my Thursday post.

7 thoughts on “The One-Stop-Shop

  1. Field trip! 😉
    I LOVE traveling blue highways and rural roads for this reason: the one-stop-shops!
    I got my first yo-yo at a shop in Missouri, 6 cat’s eye marbles at another Missouri shop; my brother got a deck of baseball-theme playing cards and my aunt found a needlepoint pattern at a shop in northwest Kansas; and best of all, I found my favorite hot pink shoelaces for my tennis shoes at a shop in Arkansas. The shoe laces actually had a cobweb on them–they were hanging on a wall hook next to ping-pong balls!–and they cost me a quarter! Stacked on the shelf next to them were boxes of Little Debbie cinnamon cakes, but I chose the shoelaces, plus I only had three dimes in my pocket.
    Great post, Robyn.

  2. Good to see not all of these places have disappeared. We had one of those places, a mom-and-pop gas station with little restaurant. It stayed in business until the late 1960s. It made the Historic Register. Unfortunately, it was demolished in the late 1970s to make way for a Wendy’s.

    Excellent, excellent photos of authentic America, Robyn.

    Sent via secured network.

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