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Pop Kola, Kolorized: 1939

Pop Kola, Kolorized: 1939

July 1939. Gordonton, North Carolina. "Country store on dirt road. Sunday afternoon. Note kerosene pump on the right and the gasoline pump on the left. Rough, unfinished timber posts have been used as supports for porch roof. Negro men sitting on the porch. Brother of store owner stands in doorway." 4x5 negative by Dorothea Lange. Click here for the original B&W photo. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Pop Kola:Kolorized

The Pop Kola titled pic is dead on, including the gasoline - if you've ever seen a large volume of leaded regular, you'd know that it looks much darker in quantity; there are at least 20, perhaps 25 gallons in that glass enclosure. BTW, anyone notice the shoe underneath the kerosene pump? All those guys appear to have theirs on.


Great job on the color. The store reminds me of my grandparents' house in South Carolina. It was set on stones also.

Just Enjoy

Why criticize! Just enjoy the picture as it is. Colors are not the same to everyone. I can remember seeing scenes just like this in rural East Texas. Thank you for taking me back in time. Ahhhh, the memories.

Brown Gas

My guess is that the color of the gas is too dark. Light amber would be more like it.


You have my utmost admiration! Truly a task of incredible patience and attention to detail!

Thanks for sharing this beautiful work!

Re: Danger in Color

Based on my estimate (which probably isn't terribly accurate), I'd guess the guy on the left is about 6 feet away from the gasoline pump; and the guy on the right is about 3 feet away from the Kerosene pump. Due to the explosive quality of gas vapors, I'd be more worried about the guy on the left. Strangely enough, I still see people today; standing at a gas pump, puffing away. And even worse, they put the pump handle back in the cradle, and screw the gas cap back on with the same hand that's holding the lit cigarette. I figure that sooner or later, I'll be able to personally witness the next Darwin Award winner.

What a difference colour makes

I find that when I look at monochrome photos that were taken before colour photography was developed (pun intended!), after a while one gets to think of the pre-colour years as being totally colourless. Silly, I know, but that's the way the mind works.

So to see something like this -- and all the other colourizations presented here on Shorpy -- is really great. Thank you.

Re: "Like the Wizard of Oz" submitted by skizmal

"Like the Wizard of Oz" submitted by skizmal looks much more realistic to me. Those Chesterfield signs are just as I remember them, a very dark red, almost brown color. I'd love to see this photo larger.

Pure Art

I remember about half of the signage attached to the front wall. I can also remember the gas wars of the 50's when I pumped gasoline at 15.9 cents a gallon.

Beautiful job of coloring this photo, it's a shame the negative wasn't larger.

[The original is gigantic -- and even that's been downsized. - Dave]

Summer of '39

Wouldn't y'all love to have lazed along with this carefree group on that idle July afternoon listening to the neighborly conversation, the humor, the owner's dialogue, feeling the heat of a North Carolina summer, maybe hearing the cicadas buzzing, drinking cold soda, smoking cigs and best of all, NO technology, iPhones, texting, or headphones. People actually exchanging ideas, jokes, gossip, talking about their mates, perhaps discussing news about the Depression and the simmering war in Germany. Maybe some '30s music with some static emanating from a radio back inside the store somewhere, "watching the Fords go by," as my Daddy used to say. This was real leisure, my idea of the best kind of hanging out, an era gone forever.

Like the Wizard of Oz

I've always enjoyed looking at these colorized photos. It helps me visualize how the world would have actually appeared to the photographer. I ran across a similar photo and colorized it a while back and am blown away how mine looks similar in color selection as this picture. See attached.


I made deliveries to this store in the late 60's and this is just wrong. Striking, but wrong. If verisimilitude wasn't the goal, there should be a lot more pinks, purples and chartreuses in there -- it wouldn't look much more unreal than this does, but a lot more striking.

[Talk is cheap! - Dave]

Don't I know it.

Rock Solid?

What really jumps out at me with the addition of color are the "supporting" rocks that are holding up the front deck. Seems like one or two rocks could easily slide out and send that peaceful bunch flying.

Big difference.

That is truly awesome seeing all those signs color! That would be a sign collector's dream to stumble upon a cache like this.

Great job Hille.

Thanks, Dave

Another trip to the olde Funk & Wagnall's to check the meaning of a word. "verisimilitude" indeed. This photo is extraordinary colourized. Thank you, Hille, well done.

Danger in Color

Somehow I never took note of the men smoking in such close proximity to the gas and kerosene pumps, but it really stands out to me in color. Of course, if you escaped harm from any potential explosion, there was always the abundance of tobacco, one of the primary industries of NC. It looks like they were going to have to build a bigger store just to support the competition in advertising for tobacco in its various forms. I also like the way the mimosa branches in the upper left corner frame the picture in.

Fact or fiction?

Do I now look at this photo with a different eye, I'm sure some of the colours are spot on, but I would think it a bit of a stretch on those fellow's shirts.

[I don't think that verisimilitude was the goal here. One reason why it's so striking. - Dave]

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