Passing Gas and Other Towns Along the American Highway

••••• GARY • GLADSTONE'S • BLOG •••••

Gary Gladstone

Gary Gladstone
July 08
I was a photojournalist and commercial photographer. (Remember LIFE, LOOK and the Saturday Evening POST?) In the ‘60’s, I was a comedy writer and jazz record producer. (I was good enough to go broke more slowly than the others.) Since the ‘70’s, I have authored eleven books mostly related to or containing photography. My two most recent are general interest works of humor and Americana. Nine years ago, "Passing Gas And Other Towns Along The American Highway" (Ten Speed Press) was published, followed by the sequel, "Reaching Climax And Other Towns Along The American Highway." Collectively, they contain 110 portraits of people who live in absurdly named real towns like Stinking Point, Virginia Dickshooter, Idaho, Tight Squeeze, Virginia, Gas, Kansas and Climax, Minnesota. I wrote daily journals of my experiences visiting these towns, which became the text portion of these picture books. Surprised by reviewer’s unexpected comments on the writing, I gave up the road after 75,000 miles of self-financed travel for a keyboard and began telling true stories. Dipping into my past is a lot like popping into strange towns and discovering funny stories. It’s too much fun to stop. 99% of the stories here are memoir The other 1% is bad grammar or the cat waking on the keyboard. Don’t look for deep meaning in the lead illustrations. The accompanying images are just gratuitous eye candy. All work (photos and text) is © Gary Gladstone and registered in the year it was created.


APRIL 13, 2013 10:45AM

Jonathan Winters, Cramps and Tears

In the Early ‘60’s, I was at a party in Bronxville, NY where Johnny sat out on the sun porch in a throne-backed white wicker chair surrounded by ten or twelve of the twenty or so guests. For two and a half hours, he plucked straight lines and suggested characters fromRead full post »

FEBRUARY 1, 2012 10:42AM

The Fine Art Of Not Writing

Not Writing art #1

Today I will write more because last week I let a million distractions keep me from actually hitting the keys.

I’ll start now.

I feel better because of my resolve. Let's start.

Let me just check email first. I'll open thisRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 7, 2011 3:21PM

Surviving Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7 art

Seventy years ago today my buddy Donnie and I are six years old, sitting outdoors on the cold browned grass of Donnie’s house in Scarsdale, tossing sticks at the chickadees and defying the chill to force us inside. Donnie’s family housekeeper flings the front door open and racesRead full post »

OCTOBER 28, 2011 10:18AM

Rea On Top

rea on top art couple

I still smile every time I recall following Rea Rossi into that horse barn.

 It’s 1951 and for this boy, there’s nothing sweet

Read full post »
My Movie art

10¢ Matinee

In my teen years I am considered a problem. Today they call it A.D.D. but back then it’s just not paying attention or failing to apply myself. Toss in a dash of creative impulsiveness with a sprinkling of neurosis and I am

Read full post »
JUNE 29, 2011 12:21PM

Getting Shorter

Getting Short Art tracks

I’m sipping my morning coffee when I notice a familiar photograph in a magazine’s year-end wrap-up article. It shows Edith Shain, the nurse being kissed by a sailor in Times Square in Alfred Eisenstaed's famous “Victory over Japan Day” photo. She died in Los Angeles at/Read full post »

Hooker art


I can list four hookers I’ve bumped into in my lifetime. As I write these memoirs, one sticks out especially in my mind. She was hooker number

Read full post »
MARCH 14, 2011 1:54PM

Soda Jerk

 Soda Jerk art Fountain stools


As a 1950s teenager, I am pretty much a flop at keeping any part-time job. First, Dad manages to get me work caddying on weekends at a local golf club. The job ends on my starting day when I discover that hauling a thirty-five pound leather bagRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 11, 2011 11:05AM

Numb Struck

Numb Struck STRETCHed art


I give up drinking alcohol at the age of seventeen because it makes me nauseated, gives me a headache and makes me stumble around and embarrass myself. Most importantly, it costs a lot of money to be having all that fun.

I makeRead full post »

DECEMBER 8, 2010 9:58AM


Murders title art

I’m eating my favorite bologna sandwich and root beer dinner at Mitchell’s Delicatessen before I meet up with my buddy Tony to see “War of the Worlds” at the nearby RKO movie house.  It’s 1953 and I’m eighteen, living at home, a t/

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NOVEMBER 16, 2010 3:48PM

My Delinquent Dozen

Delinquent Dozen art
I am sentenced, at age 4, to remain in my room as punishment for heaving a three-pound Lionel electric train engine out the window onto the terrace below. It lands on the ironing board of a neighbor’s maid as she pressesRead full post »
OCTOBER 13, 2010 9:31AM


crybaby tear art no type

As a young newspaper photographer, I saw some pretty horrific things. Arriving at accident scenes often ahead of the police, I was exposed to some raw suffering. But somehow I remained unemotional and was able to continue shooting pictures to complete my assignment.

Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 11:33AM

Shaving My Dad

dad gary fishing Shaving Dad art tilted

Shaving My Dad

“Gary and Gale, I need to talk with you both. Come in here please.”

In the summer of 1952, I’m sixteen, a year older than my sister, Gale. The two of us have just been summoned

Read full post »
AUGUST 27, 2010 5:33PM

Shooting Big Ugly

Big Ugly Doska w/shotgun Blog

We're greeted at the Big Ugly Community Center by a puppy that comes bounding up to car and then rolls over onto my feet when I get out. There's non-stop tail-wagging and a wriggling appeal to have his belly rubbed. He's neither big nor ugly. In fact he'sRead full post »

AUGUST 17, 2010 10:26AM

Leadfoot Mom

   Lead Foot art

Driving Ambition

Finally, I’m eligible to be a certified grown-up in the human race, at least in the state of New York. Having counted the weeks and days, I am at long last, sixteen and old enough to drive. For a suburban teen-age boy, this is life’sRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 6, 2010 1:47PM

S-E-X On The Rock

  s-e-x on the rock art

In spring, 1949, lunch hour at the middle school is spent outdoors on the big schoolyard rock. It consists of two distinct activities for my eighth grade boyfriends and me: swapping the lunch food our moms packed for us and torturing the girls.Read full post »

JULY 24, 2010 4:20PM

Wonder Thunder Cure

  Thunder story art __2  blog.jpg


Mom is never very warm and snuggly. She has the qualities of a good patrol cop. She is ever watchful and vigilant and seems to know when anybody is getting away with something. One of Mom’s techniques is candy-counting. She knows when someone has stolen cookies orRead full post »

JULY 18, 2010 2:06PM

Sleeping With Steve’s Parents


Sleepin with steve's parents title art

Boy, am I glad Steve has organized a New Year’s Eve party at his house so that our little group of suburban seventeen-year-olds will not have to go dateless on this major party night. Steve is the reliable one in our group so his parents, Betsy and Vernon,… Read full post »

JULY 7, 2010 10:03AM

How To Not Vomit: A Love Story


window  boy vomit 

I’m five years old when my baby sitter walks me through the rainy drizzle to the nursery school overlooking the Schuylkill River outside of Philadelphia. I’m a new arrival in this classroom and the other children look at me as if I’m the stranger’s ballRead full post »

I drove 80,000 miles all over America just to visit 125 tiny towns with funny names. I made a portrait in a different town every day.

The images and stories became two coffee table books. Here are some of my Americans from the first book: Passing GasRead full post »

JUNE 19, 2010 2:21PM

Hole-In-The-Shoe Gang


Hole In The Shoe art

On Tuesday, August 14th 1945, World War-II ends abruptly with a scratchy public address announcement. The nasal voice of Andy, the camp Director, comes filtering through the dense pine woods of Camp Robin Hood for boys onRead full post »

JUNE 8, 2010 11:26AM

Down And Dirty

Down And Dirty art  One Foot In The Gutter

In 1960 my jazz drummer pal, Dave Bailey, asks me to photograph him for the cover of his new Epic label jazz record album titled ”One Foot In The Gutter.”  This is a real break for me since an album cover for Epic, a division of Columbia/Read full post »

MAY 30, 2010 1:25PM

One Ton Son

One Ton Son red art

A few years ago, someone asks me, “What characteristics did you inherit from your mom?”  I roll my eyes and sigh recalling that Mom was mostly unaffectionate, punishing, revengeful and delivered lots of betrayals and disappointments.  She was pretty much of a train wrec/Read full post »

MAY 15, 2010 11:40AM

Buccaneer Bernie


  Buccaneer Berne Art

Undercover Lunch

When my 1952 high school classmate Bernie Solomon tells me I’m the fastest moving ballast he ever had onboard his sailboat, I understand this is not a big compliment.  As ballast, all I have to do is move across the cockpit and hang over theRead full post »

MAY 1, 2010 3:09PM

Mother’s Day Booby Prize


mop and pail art

It’s the spring of 1947. The odor of blooming skunk cabbage, along the river, has given way to the sweeter bouquet of fresh budding leaves. I’ll be twelve in two months and I’ve finally worked up enough nerve to hike by myself, along the Bronx River, fromRead full post »