Gas, Food, and Lodging is a book about the shift in America’s roadside character. It uses the postcard as a vehicle to communicate feelings and thoughts that are evoked from the images themselves.
The road, as a central part of our everyday life, is the spinal cord of our culture. While it was growing and maturing, the needs that sprung from the road-gas, food, and lodging-helped shape and sculpt our “new” landscape.
Postcards that were published after the first World War and up to the end of the second World War are documents of this aesthetic. Their significance, on a deeper level, is not just that of an independent art form, but a concept that is a reflection of life in America.
Recent spiraling gasoline prices, overall inflation, and a faster and more demanding life style have given credence to what gas, food, and lodging gave us in terms of a different way of life. Our heightened consciousness has made us more aware of the past, and it is an illusion to consider that life was simpler years ago. Life was just different, and that difference had to do with quality-that spirit that went into the “American Way of Life.” Today our sophisticated means of transportation-the airlines and the vast network of interstate highways-have reduced bus and train travel, thereby further diminishing the need for the smaller road used for business and pleasure. This giant shift, gradual as it was, altered America’s roadside character-and the need for and use of the postcard diminished. Nevertheless, precious as they are, the postcards sustain themselves as icons, but importantly as a major art form that is not at all self-conscious.
Turning the pages of John Baeder’s GAS, FOOD AND LODGING brought a tear to my eye
-Charles Kurault radio program, Fall 1982