One of the stars on my Google Map that was close to where I stayed one night in Tennessee, was the old Underwood & Petty service station in Strawberry Plains. I’m not sure where I first saw a picture of the old station. It may have been something in my Instagram feed. Shunpikers, roadtrippers and backroad ramblers are great sources for this sort of thing. But I suppose the where I saw it is immaterial when the why I saved it is obvious.
But there is the other why. Why would I ride with a purpose to lay eyes on a crumbling old facade? I can’t buy it, fix it, save it. I can’t stop time. What is the purpose of going to see it or any of the other ghost stations I might visit?
This little empty station sits in a spot in Unionville, NY that I’ve probably ridden by a hundred times. Up until this past Sunday, I never zeroed in on it or paid it any attention. Well, I finally woke up. Kenny and I stopped so I could peer in the windows.
Aside from the interesting reading material, that “Reducing Plan Candy” was apparently made by the tragically named Ayds appetite suppressant.
According to the roadside architecture oracle, Debra Jane Seltzer, this was once a Texaco. If petroliana is your passion, you’re probably sniffing and thinking “everybody knows that!” Well, I didn’t. But, now I do and I can’t un-know it.
When I try to find information about something I’ve seen on the road I often fall down a rabbit hole of information. Innocently, I think to myself, “let me see if I can find a historical photo of…” and the next thing I know an hour went by and I’m reading about useless things that no one else will care about.
Before searching for this station, I didn’t consciously know that service stations had distinctive style names attached to them. This building is apparently of the “Denver style.” I suppose that makes sense in that there are sub-genres and colloquial names of all sorts of things. And really, I should’ve recalled having to look up what I now know to be a Phillips 66 “batwing” station.
There’s always something new to learn.
Speaking of rabbit holes, while I was looking for station info, I also stumbled across the Texaco Diamond T Doodlebug Tank truck. Sweet mercy, is it glorious, or what?
When I see buildings and vehicles like these it makes me feel a little sad that subsequent generations seem less invested in the artful design of every day or utilitarian buildings and such. There were so many charming stylistic elements at work. We’ve got a whole lot of bland going on these days. ::sigh::
While riding from Metropolis towards Springfield, Illinois, I passed through the town of Vienna. It was a place I’d never heard of before. As I slowed my motorcycle and approached the stop sign at IL-146, to my right was the most beautiful ghost. A Standard Oil station.
Seeing the station, I immediately wished I could have experienced it in its heyday. Thoughts of sharing pleasantries while a coveralled gentleman washed my windshield and filled my tank danced through my imagination.
How could something so lovely fall into such a state of disrepair? The building belongs to someone. Why won’t they save this gorgeous baby? A case of monies best spent elsewhere, I’m sure. Simply trying to survive will always trump everything else.
Practicality aside, I wish that a preservation group would take this beautiful skeleton and return it to its original splendor. To the untrained eye, the building looks salvageable. So many of the lovely elements are just dying to be refurbished. But, who knows? Maybe my wishes and reality are very far apart here.
But it’s nice to dream.
Can you imagine driving over the hose and hearing the *ding-ding* of the bell? I suppose anyone younger than me might not get that reference.
There is probably a generation or two of locals who have this station weaved throughout their day to day memories. People who worked there, filled up there, and now watch it crumble there. Such memories can be bittersweet
Vienna, Illinois’ Gorgeous Ghost
Yesterday, I learned a new word.
Anemoia – n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.
On Long Island’s north shore sits Jamesport Auto Service. I’ve passed it a hundred times but never noticed the vintage Flying A gas pump until yesterday. I simply had to stop for a picture. As I pulled into their lot and took my camera out of my tankbag, I somehow managed to accidentally pull my Blackberry out as well. I never heard it hit the ground and didn’t notice it was gone until I got home.
The insult to injury is that I can see the phone’s pink case laying near the puddle in the photo taunting me. I did go back for it, but it was gone by the time I returned. I’m kind of surprised that someone would keep a found telephone, but eh, whaddayagunnado? I initialized it, reported it lost/stolen and got a new one today.
Before I left the house I wavered on whether I should go out for a ride or not. My first inclination was no, but I went anyway. When I returned home and discovered that I’d lost my phone I immediately said, ‘See? I knew I shouldn’t have gone.’ If I hadn’t gone for a ride I wouldn’t have lost my phone, I wouldn’t have wasted the time going back for it and I wouldn’t be out $50 to replace it.
In this case the consequences of me ignoring my inner voice were no big deal. In the scope of riding a motorcycle, sometimes not listening to your intuition can have dire consequences.
KRAMER: Now what does the little man inside you say? See you gotta listen to the little man.
GEORGE: My little man doesn’t know.
KRAMER: The little man knows all.
GEORGE: My little man’s an idiot.
This post is nothing without you:
Do you always listen to the little voice inside before riding?
Have you ever had anything good or bad come of listening or not listening to it?