What is: The American flag on the house and truck panels.

What was: Sitting at the side of the road on route 66, todays SUV’s heritage can be traced back to the panel truck, like this one.

In 1917, nine years after the first Model T, Ford introduced their first truck based on the Model T. By 1942, Ford had made a departure from sharing passenger car styling with the truck line and gave its delivery truck line a new style. However, shortly after the new models were introduced, the US entered WWII. The production of civilian vehicles was halted. Ford retooled to concentrate on building a variety of military vehicles, as well as aircraft engines and bombers.

In 1947, under the guidance of Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry Ford II, a new direction for Ford trucks would take place, beginning in 1948 with the introduction of the standard setting F-Series. The F-1 series were panel trucks and featured a wider, longer, and taller cabs. Heater only, No Defroster. Running boards curved over the frame and under the cab. Many of the trucks Ford built between 1945 and 1947 were shipped with a tireless rim in the spare tire holder because of a lingering post war rubber shortage.

The Ford F-series truck has been built continuously since 1948, and has since sold more than 40 million models. — making it the fifth most popular vehicle ever produced.

What is: A Hilton hotel and apartment building in the place of a once pioneering retail flagship store and HQ.

What was: Begun as a dry good shop by Mr. Miller and Mr. Rhoads in 1888, Miller and Rhoads became an iconic department store that once stretched an entire street block and left an indelible mark on not only the retail landscape of the city, but also on Richmond residents.

Miller & Rhoads offered customers one-stop convenience for goods and services ranging from stamps to clothing, sporting goods, to public telephones, but in a glamorous, cosmopolitan setting where exceptional customer service reigned supreme.  That included: specialty hats made by the milners; the ever-popular Tea Room, which featured regular fashion shows, and signature menu; as well as pioneering “Santaland” attraction.

The Santa Land attraction included woodland scenes with lifelike, animated animals were strategically placed throughout the room. Fully decorated trees adorned a path leading to the beautiful stage. Onstage were a huge fireplace, a Christmas tree, and a golden chair with a red velvet back and seat where Santa Claus sat.  SantaLand was so popular, Miller and Rhoads aired commercials with the tagline “Miller & Rhoads – Where Christmas is a Legend.”

After being picketed in the early 1960s by African Americans, it fully desegregated in 1961.

The store also hosted famous writers, art exhibits and other community events that helped add a cosmopolitan flair to the city.  Many a Richmonder met their friends at the store under its famous clock. As suburbs and malls came to the forefront, Miller and Rhoads moved into that space.  However, faced with increasing competition from stores like Leggett and Hess’s and dwindling finances, Miller & Rhoads filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  By 1990, all Miller & Rhoads stores closed their doors for good.


What is: This store has everything!  Ashtrays, fireworks, keychains, ham, bacon, sausage, peanuts.  Everything imaginable gift and trinket you can think of. It has character…and where I first discovered real (no need to refrigerate) smoked bacon slabs from RM Felds.

What was: roadside stores like this were mostly family run and prospered in the 1950s and 60s as American families (baby boomer children) took to the road for vacations or trips to the local beach. When young American men came back from the war, it was a prosperous time, automobiles affordable and production expanding. It was a time for family road trips to experience America. Before the days of chain restaurants and stores, the character of regional foods and activities permeated through the road side stores. The road trip was as much a part of the vacation and experience as the destination was.

I have no big story…an abandoned gas station and sign near Conway, Texas along Route 66.

What is: The Frisco Pier, North Carolina, Outer Banks.The Frisco pier left to fall apart on its own after hurricane “damage”.

What was: The beloved community landmark was constructed in 1962 and served as a popular fishing spot for years and years. In fact it was home to some big catches, including a 76lb tarpon and cobia, an 8lb albacore and state record 12 lb Spanish mackerel.

At night it was lit up and familes often had picnics on the pier.

Abandoned in 2008, the pier has since been left to the destructs of the ocean, wind and surf.

Despite several hurricanes, somehow years later portions of the the pier still stood. The pier was under private ownership of two native North Carolinians, Angie and Tom Gaskill. They had owned the pier since Hurricane Isable’s destruction in 2003. Gaskill spent $400,000 to buy and rebuild the pier. After Hurrican Earl, estimates to rebuild/repair the pier were about $500,000.00 and because it was privately owned they were not eligible for any grants or loan programs associated with rebuilding.

There were also complications with insurance since the Pier was only “damaged,” and not “destroyed.”

The National Park Service, ultimately took over the property and The Frisco Pier removal project began in December 2017. It was completed in 2019.

What is: Abandoned sharecropping home at the edge of the fields, Money, MS

What was:
Typical sharecropper shack was usually located with the crop entirely surrounding the house. After the Civil War, former slaves sought jobs, and planters sought laborers. The absence of cash or an independent credit system led to the creation of sharecropping.

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities.

In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much.

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted. Approximately two-thirds of all sharecroppers were white, and one third were black. Source: PBS’s Slavery By Another Name, https://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/sharecropping/

What is: Chimborazo Park, Richmond, VA.  Statue of Liberty replica (this one #136 of about 200) dedicated in Chimborazo Park on February 11, 1951. A gift to the city by the Boy Scouts of Robert E. Lee Council in 1951.  Worth noting this is the same site of the Confederate States military hospital, which was the largest hospital in human history, receiving 17,000 wounded and serving more than 76,000 patients.

What was: Inscription at the base: “With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these United States.  The Boy Scouts of America dedicated this copy of the statue of Liberty as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty.  40th Anniversary Crusade to strengthen the arm of Liberty, 1950.”

Between 1949 and 1952, approximately two hundred 100-inch (2.5 m) replicas of the statue, made of stamped copper, were purchased by Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states in the U.S. and several of its possessions and territories. The project was the brainchild of Kansas City businessman, J.P. Whitaker, who was then Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council.

The copper statues were manufactured by Friedley-Voshardt Co. (Chicago, Illinois) and purchased through the Kansas City Boy Scout office. The statues are approximately 8+1⁄2 feet (2.6 m) tall without the base, constructed of sheet copper, weigh 290 pounds (130 kg), and originally cost US$350 (equivalent to about $3,900 in 2021) plus freight. The mass-produced statues are not meticulously accurate, and a conservator noted that “her face isn’t as mature as the real Liberty. It’s rounder and more like a little girl’s.” Many of these statues have been lost or destroyed, but preservationists have been able to account for about 100 of them (Source: Wikipedia)

What is: Mabry Mill along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the most photographed and painted places along the Parkway.

What was:Ed Mabry (1867-1936) built the mill which was really 3 mills in one place. He and his wife Lizzy ground corn, sawed lumber, and did blacksmithing for three decades. By many accounts Lizzie was the better miller of the two. In 1903 he had returned to Floyd County, VA after working as a blacksmith in the coal fields of West Virginia.

It was first a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then became a sawmill. By 1905 it was in operation as a gristmill, as well. People from as far away as eight miles were bringing their corn to be ground at the mill. The water power for the mill was limited which meant the milling took longer than many of the other local mills. However, that slow grinding also meant they did not scorch/burn the corn as it was milled and they had a reputation for some of the finer quality grinds and the best tasting cornmeal around. That resulted in loyal customers. Mabry bought adjacent tracts of land, mostly for the purpose of acquiring more water power to address the issue of water. The National Park Service acquired the Mabry Mill property in 1938 after Ed died and Lizzie moved away.

What is: fields and fields and fields of cotton…some growing, some harvested, some planted.

What was: “Cotton is King” In the years before the Civil War—American planters in the South continued to grow tobacco and rice but Cotton emerged as the antebellum South’s major commercial crop. Cotton was one of the world’s first luxury commodities, after sugar and tobacco. By 1860, the southern states were producing two-thirds of the world’s cotton.

In 1793, Eli Whitney revolutionized the production of cotton when he invented the cotton gin, a device that separated the seeds from raw cotton, rather than requiring all manual labor. The cotton gin allowed a slave to remove the seeds from fifty pounds of cotton a day, compared to one pound if done by hand. After the seeds had been removed, the cotton was pressed into bales. These bales, weighing about four hundred to five hundred pounds, were wrapped in burlap cloth and sent down the Mississippi River.

Nearly all the exported cotton was shipped to Great Britain, fueling its burgeoning textile industry at the time. They also shipped to mills in the northern US. The South’s dependence on cotton was matched by its dependence on slaves to harvest the cotton. Some southerners believed that their region’s reliance on a single cash crop and its use of slaves to produce it gave the South economic independence and made it immune from the effects of industrialization that were occurring in the North. Between the years 1820 and 1860, approximately 80 percent of the global cotton supply was produced in the United States. Source: http://pressbooks-dev.oer.hawaii.edu/ ushistory/chapter/the-economics-of-cotton/

What is: Pottery School, Pamunkey Indian Reservation, King William County, Virginia.  Home of the Pamunkey Potter’s Guild since the early 1930s.

What was: Pottery production for Virginia’s indigenous peoples began roughly three millennia prior to contact with Europeans. From its beginning to approximately five decades after European contact, the ceramics of Virginia’s coastal plains consisted of small to large wide-mouthed jars with conoidal bodies and rounded bases. Ceramics were produced and used on a household basis for a multitude of purposes including cooking and storage. The period of initial European contact resulted in the first marked shift in European influence on Pamunkey pottery production in which pottery shifted from production for consumption to production for exchange.

During the nineteenth century, the Pamunkey potters had a thriving peddlers’ trade throughout the Peninsula area. Many believed that this activity was ruined by the construction of the York and Richmond Railroad in 1854 and the traumatic events surrounding the Civil War and resulting disruption of life in King William county area. Reconstruction, would, of course, take a further toll. By the beginning of the 20th century, only a handful of potters remained, but all the senior members of the community could recall a day when their grandparents made a living, at least in part, from peddling their stewing pots, milk pans, and other pottery vessels throughout the country.

Today, the Pamunkey Reservation consists of 1,200 acres. That is 7% of the land originally granted by the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation.