Albany Hill Mini Mart

Albany Hill Mini Mart

Albany Hill Mini Mart / © Neo Serafimidis 2011

Photo of Albany Hill Mini Mart from my Albany Commercial Streetscapes project. I suppose it’s not really that exciting a shot, but I have a soft spot in my heart for it. It is kind of an homage, again, to Ed Ruscha, this time to his Twentysix Gasoline Stations book. Although it could be Shore or Wessel, too. But since the project as a whole turns out to be an echo of Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip, I’ll just go with that.

In any case, looking at images from Twentysix Gasoline Stations online, I was reminded of something from my childhood: the gasoline station across the street from my Uncle Pete’s shoe repair shop. There were two things about that station that I never understood as a small child. The first was the brand name, which was Terrible Herbst. I didn’t even know that it was the name of anything because it was so strange, and I sure didn’t know how to pronounce the second word. I remember sitting in the shop looking out the window at the station, silently mouthing the words, trying to figure how to pronounce the name by trying to figure out what felt right in my mouth. I wasn’t used to seeing so many consonants in a row. Who knew it was a big regional brand, much less that it’s still around?

The second confusing thing to my feeble five-year-old mind were the signs next to each of the drive entrances. As I remember, they were three-foot-high metal signs on stands with springs so they would give a little in the wind. They were plain white and written in red letters were the words “GAS WAR!” I really did not know what that was supposed to mean. I knew what gas was, and what war was, but I couldn’t put the two together in any way that was meaningful to me. Even now, I have to suppose that “PRICE WAR” would be more intelligible. Despite being confused, I would feel the effect of reading the word ‘war’ as a tiny little adrenaline-like rush, because war was exciting. It made me want to be back at home playing with my army men.

Dang, I can still picture that station in my mind. I sure wish I had a photo of it. Besides being an interesting thing to have, it would help me sort out some of my foggy memory about it, because I seem to remember there being a winged horse, which is the old Mobil graphic, of course. I vaguely think the stations were next to each other. Here is a google streetview of where it/they once stood.

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Swivel the view around to the other side of the street and zoom in a bit to see the little white storefront building where Panos Shoe Repair was located once upon a time. There’s lots of memory there. But that’s a story for a different time.