An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Gas Station Series: Human Interest Photos by Claude Alexander

Claude H. Alexander, a talented but relatively unknown amateur photographer, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1894 and emigrated to the US in 1911. He was a skilled mechanic and served in France with the 163rd Aero Squadron during World War I.

Upon his return to the States, he worked at a Fordson Tractor agency in Oxford, Pennsylvania. He met Anna Kling, married in 1921 and the couple moved to Philadelphia where he worked at the Frankford Arsenal until his retirement in the 1950s. The couple then moved to Waretown, New Jersey where he bought a small boat and began taking fishing parties out on the ocean, Alexander died in 1978.

The lead image and the photo he took (below) while living in Philadelphia are scenes in the City taken at Atlantic “White Flash – Gasoline Alley” service stations.

Learn his life story “Flag Honors Irish Immigrant” by a great-niece Pamela Powell, Photo Archivist at the Chester County Historical Society and view other images there.

Share with us what you find of interest in the photographs, we will return with more pictures in the future courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

13 responses to “Gas Station Series: Human Interest Photos by Claude Alexander

    • … to me it seems the difference between urban and rural life at the time are remarkable tho not unusual however on the seaboard today hard to find in a given area. Thanks for the resources, David, love them…isn’t the web great!

  1. Great photos for those days, especially those on his web site. Too many old photographers had their archives (negatives, prints, and transparencies) trashed when they died, so it’s good to see these preserved. If you have access to old photographs, consider donating them to a museum or archive. Don’t just dump them!

    What’s the car, Packard?

      • I believe a 1928 Buick Master. I am not an expert on them, but my dad had one years ago. A fairly noticeable one year only style situated between the new cars of ’29 and the older style used ’25/’26/’27. Fenders, hood, radiator, lights, nothing fits any other year car. As for the Master and standard? The hood is off and I think I can see the water manifold that connects the engine head to the radiator used on the Master series only.
        Wonderful photo!
        Thank you David G!

    • Frank makes a good point about donating the photographs that you may have , but before you do make sure that at some point the public knows about them and has access of where they are. Most historical societies keep archives but would not have much interest in family photos that just show relatives standing/posing for a group photo. The photos have to have local back round interest, even if it is just a view of a house beyond the main subject in the photo. I am the appointed historian for the village I reside in, as well as a founder of the local historical society and one needs to consider how much space you have to store everything , and period photos of Uncle Horace and Aunt Minnie are important to a family but not so much to the general pubic unless there is something else in the photo that shows the area or your relatives were shop owners, etc in the community.

      • Walter is right. If you were active in a car club, museum, or other oraganization. back in The Old Daze, your photos may have some interest to museums and archives. I help run AutoArchives in Littleton, Colorado, a 501(c)3 non-profit. We have gathered thousands of automotive images plus books, magazines, event files, programs, and much more. Finding a place to store them and keeping things organized and available are huge tasks, but we have been helped by our primary sponsor, Hagerty.

  2. That shop must’ve had a heck of a dog as I doubt that door would have kept anyone out after business hours.

  3. Looks like they put a extension on the garage to accommodate the longer automobile’s . Just look at old wooden siding on the building, what a neat picture..

  4. Wonder if the name “gasoline alley” was really common back then or did it inspire the popular cartoon series found in the newspapers up until the sixties?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *