The South’s hidden gems? Its diverse gas stations, according to this photographer | News World

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Two decades ago, when the photojournalist Kate Medley was in graduate school in Oxford, Mississippi, she would often frequent a local gas station with an off-menu offering: Tupperware containers full of home-cooked Indian food, made by the owners, for whomever knew to ask.

Though it would be years before she began a long-term series on the gas stations and roadside stops of the American South, Medley’s pit stops intrigued her; she grew to recognize the spaces as vital foodways in both urban and rural areas.

Though many provide simple goods and services — like coffee, hot dogs or an oversized bathroom key — others offer diverse, unexpected offerings: crawfish etouffée, tamales, Cajun-style bahn mi, all-you-can-eat barbecue, or even an entire country ham to purchase along with your cigarettes.

Often overlooked because of their perceived liminal nature, these quick stops can be lifelines for the communities they serve, Medley pointed out, as well as opportunities for people to strive for the so-called American Dream. (In…


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