As an archivist and local history researcher, one of my favourite resources is small-town yearbooks. These often contain sponsor ads and photos of local scenes, and sometimes these are the only real record of the businesses that once existed in places that were simply too small to ever command a city directory to be published. Also, they can capture changes in the built history.
A case in point? Take the tale of this Texaco station in the West Virginia town of Franklin (pop. 721), located in a sparsely-populated section of a sparsely-populated state:
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1982: It's an archetypal Teague Texaco in its classic green-and-white porcelain enamel glory. The pumps are "bare," with no canopy. It's a scene that wouldn't have looked any different 20 or 30 years earlier. (And speaking of 30 years earlier, note the 1950 Ford juxtaposed with more modern 1970s cars!)
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1988: Now a few years have gone by, and things are starting to look mighty strange. The station has been brought into accordance with the "System 2000" look, with an aesthetically-dubious coat of grey and red paint covering up the green and white porcelain enamel and a black canopy now covering the pumps. Note the frightening pile of discarded tires in the background, which would never fly today. Also note that three different eras of Texaco branding were visible: The 1950s "TEXACO" lettering on the building, the Matawan-era hexagon sign, and the current logo!
Franklin High School Yearbook, 1992: By this point, the Texaco branding was gone altogether...and irony of ironies, the station rebranded itself as Chevron! (Note that this was eight years before the companies merged.) All the signage has changed, and the Teague station building (still with stripes visible) has been repainted a blinding white. Meanwhile the Coke machine hasn't budged, and several of the gas pumps are the exact same ones visible in the 1982 picture.
No specific address is given in the ads, but thanks to surrounding buildings and topography I traced the location to here. A gas station still stands on the site, but by now the Teague building and Chevron branding are both long-gone.
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"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."