I don’t know a lot of people who would drive 135km just to take pictures of a gas pump, but that’s how I spent my Sunday. Sure, there were other stops along the way – Blackie, Brant, the old RACF Aerodrome near Vulcan, but the destination was a gas pump. Not just any gas pump, but the gas pump which stands in front of the old Mallory and Carnegie store in Kirkcaldy.
Traveling to these places allows me to figuratively open a portal to the past.
Something magical happened in Kirkcaldy today. It was purely accidental but I think it is one of the most memorable moments I have ever had in my years of hunting down these places.
I was peering in the windows of the old general store. The window to the right of the door has rust-coloured curtains hanging in it but I was able to get a limited view between the gaps in the fabric. I moved over to the window to the left of the door. The bottom two panes were covered but the top two panes were unobstructed. I raised my camera up to the glass and pressed the lens hood tight to the glass. With a click of the shutter I rapidly fired off three bracketed shots.
When I got home and stacked the images together I was stunned at the image I was presented with.
I shot the photo with my 10-24mm ultra-wide lens. While the lens hood shielded some area from the ambient light and the reflections on the glass, the lens also managed to capture some of the glass outside the protective envelope of the hood.
The image is haunting. Most of the image is the reflections from the glass – the gravel road running in front of the store, the branches of a tree, the cloudy sky and the prairie stretching out to the horizon. But, there, right in the middle is a clover-shaped portal with a clear view into the store – at least as clear as it could be given the decades of dirt on the window.
Two TVs, books, a board game, a chair straight out of the 1960s. The shelves are still neatly stacked with merchandise – bowls, a kettle, a cheese grater, beverage bottles, and a box of Thrift soap flakes. Automotive belts neatly hang along the back wall, racks for Orange Crush and Canada Dry are sitting there waiting for the next delivery of inventory which is never coming. An orange broom handle leaning against the shelves in the middle of the room as if waiting for Mr. Mallory himself to show up at any minute to start sweeping the hardwood floors.
A calendar hangs on the wall but the angle of it makes it impossible to make out the year. A quick search of the internet revealed that Grant Carlyle Mallory died in 1971. It isn’t hard to believe that these things have been sitting there for forty years. My camera opened a portal to the past.