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Pie Town Garage: 1940

Pie Town Garage: 1940

Filling station and garage at Pie Town, New Mexico. Photograph by Russell Lee. September 1940. View full size. "Original owner sold pies, hence the name 'Pie Town.'" Wikipedia says that person was Clyde Norman, who started a dehydrated apple business there in the 1920s. Pie Town hosts a Pie Festival in the fall; photographer Lee took dozens of pictures of the 1940 rodeo and barbecue, which we'll be posting. Here we can see details of the the 1940 fair, and that gas was 21 cents a gallon. (Goodbye everyone, I'm moving to Pie Town - Dave)


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Prices still going up

As of the end of 2010, the original 0.149 per gallon (plus 6 cent tax) would translate into $2.26 per gallon (plus 97 cents tax) for a grand total of $3.23 per gallon.

Pie Town

Best 20 years of my life were in Pie Town. The weather was great when we were kids. Always had snow in the winter. We would take the bus 22 miles to school. My grandparents had a cafe and gas station in the early 1960's. Best pie ever. I live in Memphis now, going on 22 years. My dad & uncle Pete went to school north of town in Tres Lagunas in a log building, about seven miles away, in the 1940's.

Standard Oil & Pie Town

Because of the story about the sponsoring of Pie Town's painting by Standard Oil, I realised the gasoline brand should be Standard Oil. After some investigation I found the logo on a 1940 Idaho roadmap:

[It seems the link is broken after so many years, but I found a neon version of it]

Pie Town

Thanks Dave--The pictures I have are some personal family pictures and the photos done by Russell Lee, which I see you have access to. Incidentally, when Russell Lee came there, he took a room in the "hotel." He hung sheets and blankets over the windows in his room where he developed his own photos. My Dad said Russell didn't want people to know what he was doing, and was so 'secretive' that they all thought he was a German spy!

Pie Town Garage

All the buildings in Pie Town were red, white and blue. Even the public privy (toilet) was red white and blue! It was a small building, divided in half, with an outside door to both sides. It sat on a little hill, so it didn't need to have a pit dug for it. The ladies half was a 3 or 4-holer as I recall, and always had several Sears Roebuck catalogs handy! (I was never in the men's side!) It was a few yards from the "Motel" that had 4 or 5 small one-room cabins, and it served as the bathroom for all!!

It seems the town needed paint, and Standard Oil said they would donate it if the town painted in their colors--hence the red white and blue. This garage building burned sometime in the early or middle 40's.

Pie Town was a good place to grow up. KR

[Thanks very much for sharing, KR! And if you have any old Pie Town photos we'd love to see them. - Dave]

Great pictures!

Pie Town is one of the many and strange places along highway 60 running through New Mexico and Arizona. I'd always wondered about how it got its name. Thanks!

Pie Town

The green chili, pinon (pine nut) and apple pie is served at the Daily Pie Cafe. They are closed on Sun and Mon, and open until 3pm the rest of the week, so get there early. It's well worth the trip.

21 cents

If you look even closer you'll see that 21 cents is correct. The price per gallon is 14 and 9/10 cents - Dave

Standard Oil Credit Cards

The round sign between the two gas pumps appears to say "Standard Oil Credit Cards Good Here". I did not realize that credit cards existed in 1940. Not too much before my time but I sure don't remember them. Must be because we were too poor to have one or too smart!

I think it was actually 20 cents ...

If you look closely, the gas was 14 cents, the taxes were 6 cents-- a whopping 43% of the price -- making the price 20 cents... [20 or 21? - see comment below]

A Remembrance of Things Pastry

It's a cruel thing to be anticipating pie and then encounter a pie-denial situation. I would've been all set for pie. Delicious pie. Blueberry. Apple. Cherry. They're all good.

Pie Town

We were really bummed one day when we got to Pie Town, there wasn't any place there to buy pies...

oh well.

Pie Town

Good for Clyde. It's certainly a better name than Dehydrated Apple Town. Who doesn't love delicious pie? There was an interesting article about Pie Town photographer Russell Lee a couple of years ago in Smithsonian magazine, called Savoring Pie Town.

Pie Town

I remember reading in Place Names of New Mexico that when a postal inspector came to establish a post office it was up to Norman to pick an official name. He wanted the place to be called Pie Town. When the postal inspector suggested something more traditional . . . maybe even name the place Norman after himself, legend has it that Norman said: "It's going to be Pie Town or you can take your post office and go to hell."


Yes, original. Kodachrome transparency. Pie Town was a very colorful place.

Is that the original

Is that the original picture? It seems the color are stranges. Like an afterward colored photo.

Pie Town

I will! What can you tell us about Pie Town?

Pie Town

When you get there, be sure to check out the apple, pine nut & green chile pie -- it rules!


21 cents in 1940 is the equivalent of $3.05 today. gas wasn't really that cheap.

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