Sepia Saturday – Signs of the Times

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the weekly Linky List, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun. Click here to pay a visit:  Sepia Saturday

This week’s prompt photo features advertisements painted on the side of a building. I have a photo for this!

My grandparents, Charles and Abbie (Webber) Smith owned a truck stop in southeastern Iowa at the junction of highways 63 and 149. This intersection, near the small town of Hedrick, was known locally as the Hedrick Y. A previous post, Charles’ and Abbie’s Place, provides a view of the “Y” and a little more of this family story (including me as a baby).

The photograph below, dated 1950, provides a glimpse of the advertisements painted on the side of the building. My grandmother’s handwriting identifies the date and names.

A closer look reveals the names “Smith & Smith” at the top. The next line is unreadable. And below center is an advertisement for Robin Hood Flour.

My mom and I are in the photo below, most likely taken at Easter 1954. We are standing in front of the same wall, which has been painted over, although the original paint still show through. I guess my grandpa wasn’t concerned with the need for an additional coat of paint. A metal sign has been added to the roof – featuring a Coca-cola bottle and my grandparent’s names, Charles & Abbie. The water pump is visible in both pictures, and it looks like a TV antenna now rises above the chimney. A Conoco sign is visible in the background, indicating that there had been a change from the Sinclair Petroleum franchise.

A Joe Lewis poster had a prominent place on a post inside. Unfortunately the photo is blurry. I searched for a poster like it on the internet, but came up empty.

The picture below was taken during demolition of the building, which had undergone some changes from the previous photo. The roof line is different and the photo shows the opposite side of the building, now minus the attached garage. The second door and a window had also been eliminated.

There is another advertisement for Robin Hood Flour (Milled from ????). Maybe it says “Milled from Washed Wheat,” as shown on the sign at right. Also on the side of the building: “Smith & Smith” and “Gasoline.”

I love that the business was named equally for my grandmother and grandfather. Running the business was certainly a joint effort.

That looks like my grandfather on the roof.

A new building replaced the original and my final photograph of Charles’ and Abbie’s truck stop is of a couple of posters visible inside the new digs. One promotes Marlboro cigarettes for women and I think the other is for Kool cigarettes. A local girl used to come and play with me when I was there and we are enjoying the benefits of life at a truck stop.

The photograph below does not include any signage. There must have been a lot of rain some time during or before August of 1958, as this picture shows some minor flooding on the property. The building is a little house that sat behind the truck stop. My great aunt and uncle lived there for several years.

I included this because water and flooding have been much on our minds. Austin, TX has been under a boil water order for several days now due to flooding to the north and west of us that damaged and destroyed homes and lots of property, overfilled the Highland Lakes in central Texas, and overloaded our water treatment facilities. We have been taxed with doing what we can to conserve water and treat our own water for drinking and cooking.

And this happened.

We had stored some water jugs in the closet years ago, so have been putting them to good use. I got one out and noticed it was leaking. I got out this sun tea jar (advertisement on it, so this actually fits the theme!) and began to transfer the water from the jug to the jar. And then…. Ack!!!

I wondered if drinking scorpion infused tea would give me super powers. I chose not to test it out.

Being under a boil water order and the necessity of conserving water to get out from under it certainly makes a person more mindful. We hope the restrictions will be lifted late tomorrow.

10 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday – Signs of the Times

  1. Interesting post about the business…and great photos to have captured it through the years! Sorry to hear about your water situation, which I hope is resolved soon. We have a leak in our water line before it gets to the meter (thus on the town side of things) which is bubbling up through the sidewalk. It’s about the 4th one since I’ve lived here…and it takes the town anywhere from a week to a month to repair it. I guess as long as there’s constant pressure it will be ok. But my fish tank has had several deaths after the recent change of the water…oh oh. I’m drinking water that I filtered before the leak started. Will either boil or buy bottled water till it’s fixed.

  2. I had to boil water once in Washington, D.C. due to an overflow into our local reservoir. Not fun and luckily short-lived. Hope your water problems are resolved soon! That said, this is a wonderful photo history of the family truck stop. The ads and photo of you inside testify to the important role such truck stops played in community life — and how wonderful to have your grandparents, with equal billing, operating this one during your childhood.

  3. We don’t have to boil our water anymore, although we still need to conserve. I’m lucky to have these photos – and a few more. Their truck stop really was a gathering place. There were the truck drivers who stopped, but also a lot of the local farmers came by for coffee in the morning.

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