Sunday, September 7, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #175 - Contrast in Americana - The Old And The New, North East, Pennsylvania, July 2014

This is why I drive the Blue Highways of the U.S. I was born 14 days before President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, so I've lived through all or some part of the administrations of 13 presidents of the U.S. A lot has changed. I often say that I feel I grew up during a much kinder and gentler time. However, I'm not sure there has ever really been a kinder and gentler time in the history of the human species. So, let me just say that as I travel the country (and there is a lot of country to travel), I look for the vestiges of a time when I felt more comfortable.

This photo op jumped out at me as I was crossing from northwestern New York State into northwestern Pennsylvania on a recent trek. North East is actually the name of the township in northwestern Pennsylvania. Is that clear? Maybe as clear as mud, huh?

The contrast was so stark as I passed this sight that I turned around and went back to capture this photo. There stood an old Dairy Queen soft-serve ice cream stand back to back with a modern Circle K convenience store. Dairy Queen was founded in 1940 in Illinois and Circle K was founded in Texas in 1951. The contrast is pretty significant between these two establishments dating back 74 years (DQ) and 63 years (Circle K).

This particular Dairy Queen probably dates back to sometime in the mid 1950's. I certainly haven't seen one like this in a very long time. Over the years the Dairy Queen franchise has expanded and the buildings have changed their look and increased in size.  The building in this photo brings back fond memories and I'm glad I can still find places like this on my travels. We had one in my hometown of Clifton, New Jersey that started out looking like this one, but eventually morphed into a very different place over the next ten years or so.

According to a little research I did, there are still a number of these older Dairy Queens in operation around parts of the U.S. and I actually saw two more during this trek - but the contrast between these two buildings is what really caught my eye. The first and original Dairy Queen is now a city landmark in Joliet, Illinois. The Dairy Queen company is now owned by Warren Buffett and his Berkshire-Hathaway Corporation.

I also passed a couple older Arby restaurants on the trek and I'm hoping to find other vestiges of the Americana of my earlier days - and maybe even my parents' days. Memory Lane is on the Blue Highways not on the Interstates.   


  1. Looks exactly like the one I used to frequent in the 50's and early 60's. I'm surprised with all the upgrades usually required by the franchisors that these places escaped being ruined by modernization. Good shot....

    1. I would have thought so, too, Denny. But, while this was the first one I've seen like this in decades, I saw several more in that western PA region. I guess DQ has a different policy than the other major franchise chains - who can force the franchise owner to remodel or even build an entirely new building and either sell the old building or bulldoze it. The 20th Century and especially the 21st Century - everything appears to be disposable. Not much built to live through the ages anymore.