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Monday, May 25, 2015

Got Gas? Another Ronny Bailey Tribute to the Way Life Used To Be

Local folk artist Ronny Bailey dropped by my office a few days ago to show me his latest piece of art which was located in the back of his pickup truck. How fitting. The piece is his recreation of an ESSO gas station located in Ablemarle, North Caroline. Ronny said this is the first piece he has done for a property not located in Key West. When he put the piece on the tailgate of his truck I was taken back to my childhood in a little suburb just west of Denver. There was a similar gas station a block from my house. That station had just two bays and it was named CARTER, then HUMBLE, and later ENCO.  I looked up ESSO in Wikipedia and learned all of these names were trade names used by Standard Oil which later became EXXON MOBIL. That's a lot of names and a lot of useless information, but back in the 1950s gas station's like this populated the United States from shore to shore and border to border with different names but all selling the same gas. The stations had attendants that put gas in the car and who checked the oil, water, and tire pressure when asked. They cleaned the windshield with each fill-up. It was a simpler time. There were no ISIS terrorists - just Commies.  
When you compare the actual station with Ronny's depiction you'll notice he eliminated two of the bays and reduced the number of piles of old tires. As you look at the photos you'll see Ronny gladly adds free iconic logos including Coca Cola, 7-UP, Firestone, Quaker State Oil, Merita Bread, and RED MAN CHEW. If you get up close you'll get to see the three watch words Ronny adds to each piece he creates: LOVE, PEACE, and JOY.  LOVE and JOY are located at the bottom of either gas machine. PEACE is located under the pin-up in the service bay.  Ronny added the word HOPE to the cop car license plate. As I neared the gas station to focus on the gas machines I noted the price on each machine was the same $5.22. When I got even closer to focus on the office interior I saw the cash register had just had a sale of $5.22 as well. That's a Biblical reference to another watchword in Ronny's life - PATIENCE. Ronny's got a bit of a bad-boy in him despite his piety. He added a pin-up in the service bay because all gas stations back then had them. Today that would be sexist. And today most gas stations charge for air which was "free" at this place and in an earlier time. 
That's Ronny's reflection in the service bay window. Watching over me. Making sure that I captured the essence of this new piece of art that he created using salvaged materials mostly from old Key West houses. CLICK HERE to view all photos I took.

CLICK HERE to see Ronny's Facebook page.

Key West had a similar gas station located at 425 Grinnell Street when the photo below was taken back in 1965. Today that building houses AZUR Restaurant - and you don't get gas from eating there. The place is great!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the old photo of the gas station that is now Azur. I notice in that picture there is a large conch house located to the right of the gas station. That location is currently a parking lot fo the Eden House. I wonder what happend to the house?

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon, I did some digging and found an old photo of 1005 Fleming Street that was razed after 1965. That would not be allowed to happen now. Thank goodness for that. Look in the attached photo album to see what go torn down so that the Eden House could have parking.

Stephanie Bailey said...

Thank you Gary! As always your write ups are great!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gary for adding the photo of 1005 Fleming so that we could get a better look. Notice how the second floor front porch is set back from the first floor front porch. Very interesting but probably not the original design?


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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.