Welcome to this introduction to the gallery of interesting color photographs of old Whiting Brothers gasoline stations taken in the 1980s and the early 1990s by Jerry McClanahan.
First-person histories and original source materials of the early Whiting Brothers gasoline stations are difficult to come by now. The four Whiting Brothers themselves have all long passed and some members of the second generation of Whitings have also passed. The individuals who contributed to the growth of the company's early motorist and traveler services, its business practices and the development of its icons are too frequently also missed. Fortunately during the 1980s two of the earliest Route 66 book authors, Susan Kelly and Quinta Scott, conducted interviews of some of the early leaders and participants in the Whiting Brothers business thus creating written first-person archives. One particularly important interview was of Arthur Whiting himself, then the last surviving original brother. (Susan Kelly and Quinta Scott are the authors of one of my favorite books about Route 66.)
During this time that Susan Kelly and Quinta Scott were interviewing their subjects, artist, writer and Route 66 historian Jerry McClanahan wisely documented many of the standing Whiting Brothers gasoline stations along and near Route 66 and he has assembled a significant portfolio of photographic images from this time for us to see. Jerry has continued to study the Whiting Brothers business and he wrote the first authoritative article on the Whiting Brothers that was published in the Fall 1998 issue of Route 66 Magazine. Just a few of Jerry's photographs accompanied that article (one was reduced to black and white) but in these web pages Jerry presents a much more comprehensive album featuring many of the early Whiting Brothers gasoline stations in full color.
My initial idea in creating these Whiting Brothers web pages was to pull together historical and contemporary information about the Whiting Brothers regional chain of gas stations and motels into one location on the world wide web. Although there are a number of mostly-recent photographs of Whiting Brothers stations and a tiny bit of recent history out there on the web today, there was no place that substantially told the story of the Whiting Brothers. After my early website efforts were up and running, Jerry joined in and contributed more information about many of the Whiting Brothers gas stations along Route 66. That led to our collaboration on this "McJerry Gallery" of photographs. Actually, the visible content that you will see after this webpage is all Jerry's: Jerry's photographs and captions and Jerry's words of introduction. My contribution was the behind-the-scenes writing of the programming code to present his gallery on the web for you all to enjoy.
A word about Jerry's photographs. A generation ago or longer these gasoline stations would have been considered common and representative of the smaller, older or independent gasoline stations of their day. But now, with the passage of thirty years or so, we see in these photographs gasoline stations that are really unlike the gasoline stations of today. How many gasoline stations are there in this twenty-first century that are not coupled with a modern "convenience" store? When was the last time you encountered a gasoline station where the pump dials could not be manipulated or read from a central counter? When was the last time that you saw hand-lettered signs along a property promoting "cold pop" or "batteries" or "tires"? One thing that Jerry's photographs taught me to do was to look at these (and other) old photographs with greater care and see things that I had not noticed before. So look carefully at these old photographs. Notice how the station managers painted the accessories, trash cans, windshield cleaner buckets, etc. in the Whiting Brothers red and yellow colors. Look at the semi-professional or hand-painted signs along the rear of the property, often to the side of the station building, which are as rare today as the once-common "Gas War" sign. Look at the different types of Whiting Brothers shields including several that seem to be hand-painted. Notice that no two stations are even alike.
So, on to the "McJerry Gallery"!