Top: Phillips 66 sign on Main Street, close to its intersection with U.S. Route 158. The sign is very old, as evidenced by its heft. Most signs of even the 1950’s and 1960’s were porcelain or painted metal of a thin scope. This sign is a heavy, inflexible metal, with an even thicker frame all the way around the familiar Phillips 66 shield shape.
Bottom: Tommy’s Mini Mart sign on U.S. Route 158 in Yanceyville, near its intersection with Main Street. Currently also a birdhouse. A bird’s head can be seen from above the “Car Wash” part of the sign.
U.S. Route 158 is a small, mostly two-lane highway that runs 35o miles from Mocksville North Carolina in the West, to Nags Head North Carolina in the East. You can drive this road from approximately Reidsville to Garysburg, skirting the Northern-most counties of the North Carolina Piedmont, and find yourself in the very heart of bright-leaf tobacco country. You will see the rural tobacco fields, and packing plants in the small cities. You will see the plantation houses built by men rich on tobacco in the last 150 years, and the extreme poverty and small houses of the former workers the tobacco industry and all that entails has left behind. Even in its heartbreak, it is a glorious road.