Meet my car: Derby. Derby and I have been on many road trips together, often fulfilling my love of roadside architecture and roadside America. All along, we have been travelling with the infamous bumper sticker. That’s right, as soon as I graduated college and bought my first car, the slogan, “Historic Preservationists Make It Last Longer,” has adorned the bumper of my car. That is how much I love historic preservation – I’m willing to have strangers (and people I know) give me odd looks when they see Derby’s bumper. It’s always a conversation starter.
Meet Derby, in preservation roadside glory.
I love my car more than I should love an inanimate object, but then again, most of us love buildings as people. Fair is fair. With that said, you can imagine my delight when my mother, my sister, and I stumbled on a gas station in St. James, MO (on Route 66, I should add) that was named DERBY. Cue “stop and take a picture!” Unfortunately it was past dusk and the pictures did not come out very clearly. But, you get the idea. It was obvious that this station had been closed for quite some time, but had found alternative uses.
Derby gas station in St. James, MO.
Derby gas station sign in St. James, MO.
Since then, I have been on the hunt for a replica Derby sign. Sadly, Derby gasoline was not as popular as Mobil, Sinclair, Texaco, Phillips66…or pretty much any other brand. See here for many, except Derby. A great resource for a collection of gasoline signs and photographs is GasSigns.org. There is even a page dedicated to Derby stations and includes photographs of the St. James, MO station in daylight.
Despite the lack of reproduction Derby signs, I am now the proud owner of a reproduction sign (an early Christmas present). I love it! Here it is, in all of its Derby glory. Now…to take a picture with the car Derby and the Derby sign… in the town of Derby, North Carolina. (It actually exists, but it’s nothing more than a highway sign, a farm stand, and a few buildings, including one that looks like an igloo).
How funny is it that my sign matches the one I photographed?
My love for roadside America continues…