The American Gas Station: History and Folklore of the Gas Station in American Car Culture
by John Margolies, Bulfinch, 128 pages
by Michael Karl Witzel, Motorbooks International, 160 pages
Two very handsome and engaging books give us a look at a fading world. Gas stations will exist as long as internal combustion propels us through our lives, but the morning time of Georgian or Deco buildings glossy with tile, of free road maps and guys in visored caps checking your oil—that’s gone forever. Both these books retrieve it admirably, and although Witzel’s offers more gasstation history, it is the illustrations that allow us to share the authors’ passion for their subject: the cap badges and giveaway toys, matchbooks and postcards and attendants’ uniforms, and the advertisements showing families in their DeSotos on the road to radiant tomorrows and clean rest rooms.