Each morning for the last 65 years, 93-year-old Ed Shepard has walked to work to open up the Union 76 service station, here in rolling hills of West Virginia coal country.
When he looks out his window, he can see a sweeping mural that shows what life in Welch used to be like. A United Cigars shop on one side of the street, a Western Union sign on the other. Lines of cars stretch into the distance. Even Shepard himself -- who is as much a fixture of Welch as any of its buildings -- is in the mural, a blue cap perched on his head.
"There wasn't ten square feet in this town that didn't have a successful business in it, a business of every kind," Shepard said in an interview. "No matter what you wanted or needed, you could buy it in Welch."
Those were better days.
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