The building in the photograph was on the corner of Greenwood Road and Highland Avenue, just across from Town Hall, according to Max L. Gouge (1926-2015), who made notes and drew a map on the reverse of the photo. His notes state that the original Esso Station in Spruce Pine was a wooden structure.
The Spruce Pine Esso Station was operated by Todd McCall. Claude Young and Jack McCall worked at the station; Jack McCall, son of William Todd and Ora Lee Phillips McCall, was killed in 1944, during World War II.
Gouge wrote about his memories, as a boy of 8-10, of his father, Lindsey Gouge (1895-1977), purchasing his gasoline at the Esso Station. The elder Gouge owned Gouge Plumbing and Heating “just down the street on the left.” After his service in the Korean Conflict and graduation from Lees McRae College, Max Gouge worked in his fathers’ business for a while, and then founded Gouge Gas and Appliance in 1959.
The name Esso came from the phonetic pronunciation of S.O. – Standard Oil, a company established by John D. Rockefeller in 1870. By 1972, the name Esso had pretty much been replaced by Exxon, as part of ExxonMobil.