Archive for August, 2010

Midwest Trip Wrap-up

Posted in Roadtrip on August 31, 2010 by roadsidenut

Sorry to make you wait.  Lots of distractions and stuff needing attending to since I’ve gotten home.  The heat continues here in NYC — 90s and humid.  What a long summer it’s been!

Let’s move on to the trip stats.  I took about 5,000 photos on this five-week, 14,660 mile journey.  Spent about $1,500 on gas.  I don’t keep track of hotel/food expenses.  Only got one ticket ($140 in IN) and two warnings (IL & KS, free!).  I certainly deserved more speeding tickets but I’m not complaining!  Thanks especially to KS & MO where I was doing 80 mph on a regular basis.  That was a big time saver.

About three days of shooting were lost early on during this trip for mechanical repairs — a grand total of $979.72 (O2 sensor & wiper module, cam sensor & distributor, and A/C fix).  Plus three oil changes.  Not bad for a van with 263,000 miles on her.  I’m hoping for another 100,000.   These Astros are tough!

And now, for the final batch of photos.  Back in time to Day 26 in Indiana and Kentucky.  These neat foam statues were affixed to the side of Mr. Muffler & Brake Center in Owensboro, KY.  I’m told they hold brake tools & parts.

This guy was modeled after the guy in the photo below who was nice enough to give me that big smile:

Another photo from Owensboro.  This Mid-City Plaza sign sure looks like an adapted Frisch’s sign to me.  The shapes are right but the top part would have been red (not green) porcelain enamel.  Here’s an example from Ohio:

Very cool lights at the Holiday Drive-in in Rockport, IN:

Also in Rockport.  It appears that H&B Kustoms is now J&M Fireworks:

Oh dear, I’m not finding this one in my notes right now so I can’t tell you where it is.  I just liked the combination of this one:  the painted business name & roosters, the old plastic dairy products sign, and the building’s false front.  I think this was a Mexican restaurant now but I’m not sure:

I’ve posted at least a couple Dog N Suds signs over at Flickr earlier in this trip:


Here then is an example of an adapted DnS sign in Dale, IN:

I can’t think of any neon signs with representations of cigarettes.  Cigars, yes, but not cigarettes.  This is at Carefree Cheap Smokes at the Marengo, IN exit off I-64.

A pretty blue porcelain sign in New Albany, IN:

Another one from New Albany:

Pretty summer flowers in New Albany.  Out of my league here – zinnias?

Still in New Albany.  I can’t think of any signs still around with representations of moonshine stills:

I came upon this VW van in Jeffersonville.  My first van, more than 30 years ago back in California, looked just like this.  It was probably the same year, also white, but missing the artwork of course:

Sparkle poses, respectfully, in the background.  The bumper sticker made me laugh:  “Honk if Parts Fall Off”:

Apparently a combo house / business in Louisville.  I was going to take some photos of the other side of this place where there’s similar chaos but the owner was giving me death glares.  I’ve already gotten yelled at twice on this trip by crazies and just didn’t feel up for it today.

Moving on to Day 37, Sunday.  I gave myself a firm deadline of noon.  But I was a naughty pony and kept shooting til 3pm.  Which meant not arriving home around midnight.  But instead — snoozing for a few hours at a truck stop, running the dogs in NJ in the morning, facing some rush hour City traffic, and napping a bit later on.  But I’m none the worse for it and maybe 100 photos richer.

This octagonal building is from Lexington.  Now the “Standardbred Stable of Memories”.  After poking around on-line a bit, it turns out this was built in 1882 and used for floral displays on what was then a fairground.  There’s a trotting track right behind this building now.  The dogs had a great time barking at all the real and fake horses in Kentucky.

A couple more photos from Lexington.  A Chicago style sign hanger.  I don’t think I saw many (or any) of these in Kentucky:

This sign looks soooo familiar.  Perhaps it was mass-produced?  I’m tempted to say it was a car dealership but that might be way off.  I’m counting on you Lexington-ers to identify this one.

Last stop of the trip and last photo for this blog post marathon.  After a few stops in Winchester, KY I gas-ed up and picked up this soda for the long road home.  It was Ginger Ale-y and great.  Produced right there in Winchester.  Pronounced “A late one”.  More about it here:

And so concludes what was an awesome trip.  I hope you enjoyed sharing the highs and lows.  The dogs and I will be hitting the road again in March for a similar-sized trip focusing on Oklahoma and Texas.  I will probably do some quickie trips & blog posts between now and then.  I’ll also be hard at work adding stuff to the website.  You can follow my progress at the “What’s New” page:

Thanks for posting comments and giving positive feedback during the trip.  I looked forward to that after a long day of driving & shooting.  I hope that these posts have inspired you to take more roadtrips and photos of stuff near and far.  Have a great summer – what’s left of it – and that appears to be a lot!

Day 37: Home Sweet Home!

Posted in Roadtrip on August 30, 2010 by roadsidenut

Just a very quick “hi” to say we arrived back in Brooklyn this morning.  I have lots of fun & pretty photos in Kentucky from the past couple days to share with you all.   Stop by tomorrow for the big wrap-up post here and final Flickr batch for the trip.  It’s nice to park for awhile.  The dogs are knocked out cold.  Wish I could join them but I’ve got a million post-trip tasks and work tonight (ugh).

Day 36: Checking in from Kentucky

Posted in Roadtrip on August 28, 2010 by roadsidenut

This is just a quick hello since I’m at the tail end of the trip and tomorrow’s going to be a killer.  Sensible people would spend the evening getting halfway into Ohio to shorten the distance between here and home.  But I’m not sensible.  I’ve given in to my inner child, again, and will be doing some stuff in/around Lexington, KY tomorrow morning.  I already had to skip that stuff on two trips now and I refuse to let it happen again!  But I’ve given myself a firm cut-off of noon.  Which puts me in NYC around midnight (or later with naps).  I do have to be to work Monday night and be in somewhat reasonable condition for that.

The photos & final post will wait til I get home.  I’m calling it a very early night here — it’s 10pm.  The extra rest will help get me through the tedious awfulness that awaits me tomorrow.  A 12 hour interstate drive is one thing when you’re just heading from one place to another.  But it’s excruciating after 36 non-stop days.  Nighty night.

Day 35: Discoveries in Southern Indiana

Posted in Roadtrip on August 28, 2010 by roadsidenut

Just another beautiful day out here.  I’m pretty sure it’s raining back home and down South.  This portion of Southern Indiana and Illinois has been a section of the country that always got ditched on previous roadtrips when I ran out of time.  So it’s good finally to get ‘er done. 

Lots of new stuff (old stuff that’s new to my eyes) and some unexpected stuff. Like Wilson’s General Store & Cafe which is way west of Evansville (but Google says still in that city).  The owner has a nice collection of old signs.  This guy had me making the big U-turn initially.  I’ve always been a big fan of bellhop signs.  A waving arm like the Dairy Queen Curly the Clown (see Flickr post tonight) signs and some others.


This one has the light behind the hand like the DQ Clown signs.  For DQ, that was a way of showing when they were open — so probably for bellhops, that was a way for motels to show they still had vacancies.  This bellhop sign has a little plaque on the side showing its origin: Wilson’s also had an old KFC weathervane sign — though that piece is missing now.  Here’s what it would have looked like: 

 And the nicest of all — to me anyway — is this super oldie — a “marble sign” (my name).  The marble letters reflected at night when car headlights hit them. 

 On to Evansville where there was lots of great stuff.



I’ve seen the design of this one before — here’s an example:
but the diamonds between the poles are new to me.  Maybe they all had them? The Fares Ave. stretch in Evansville used to have many motels.  Now most of them have been converted into used car lots — most now closed.  Very sad.  Here’s one survivor: At the Zesto on my list, I noticed this old ad in the window.  I didn’t know about the other two locations so I asked.  The one on Franklin still there — so I went. I was told the one on Boonville Highway was torn down.  It was near Midget Links where I was heading anyway.  While I was there, I noticed this building and I’m feeling pretty sure that this was the Zesto.  Now a car repair place, sort of.  Didn’t notice that old Coke machine til just now.  I’ll have to do an address match when I get home.  But the building style looks pretty typical Zesto — minus the glass block at front which has been messed with / removed at many locations: Moving on to Princeton.  I spotted this building from several blocks away and knew what I was dealing with.  An unexpected sighting of a Conoco gas station — now an Enterprise car rental.  The curved glassy backside is a giveaway.  I’m not sure if I’ve seen one of these Conocos this far north before.  Here’s a bunch in Louisiana: This station would have had two canopies originally:

 Although the tile on the front of this one has been stucco-ed or painted over, at least the tile inside the curved bay remains intact:

 From Vincennes — I’m sure the “White” was a reference to the cleanliness of the kitchen — not the clientele: Also Vincennes — the rink not so much a “paradise” any more:

 And to end this post on a sad & grim note — here’s what’s left of the Paoli Drive-in:

 Much more cheerful stuff to come — but I’m going to make you wait.  I’ll be shooting more Indiana & some Kentucky tomorrow.  Then, I’ll check in briefly here and hit the road towards home.  Sunday will be all coffee and interstate.  I’ll post the final day’s photos at Flickr & here on Monday or more likely Tuesday.

To hold you over, if you’re a blog follower but have not been following the simultaneous Flickr uploads, here’s what you’ve missed so far on this trip:

Day 34: Visual Feast in Southern Illinois

Posted in Roadtrip on August 27, 2010 by roadsidenut

Well, I call it Southern Illinois even though some of this stuff is technically Central Illinois.  That’s just how my atlas splits the state (half and half) so I’m going with it.

Anyhow.  What a day!  Absolutely perfect weather (sunny but much cooler), well-behaved “children” (for the most part), and tons of great photos.  It was hard to choose which ones to use for here and Flickr.  I should definitely be able to wrap up the Illinois stuff and move on to Indiana tomorrow.  Hopefully, it’ll be just as nice and productive then/there.  Only two more days to shoot — panic mode!

On with the show since it’s late and I have so much to post.  The day started out in West Frankfort.  I’d made note to shoot this cute cottage gas station first thing before I left town.  Only to discover this Vess soda machine next to it.  I was still too bleary (lack of sleep) and delighted (never seen a Vess machine before) to check to see whether it was still operational.  50 cents seems cheap for a canned drink — but maybe.

From Johnston City.  Uh-oh, I’m not liking the look of that crumbling base:

I went to Harrisburg to shoot two signs.  Turned out, they were both gone.  No good signs left there now.  At least this is firmly in place so it won’t be sold off or destroyed.  Let’s hope it’s landmarked in some way:

I believe this sign is modern — and part of a chain — but still fun.  Even by day, the neon was on:  barrel outlined in green, text in red:

In DuQuoin, I was humored by this bit of politically incorrect stereotyping:

Only to find out as I got further into town that this Indian is actually the symbol/mascot of the local high school.  Wow, kind of shocking, no?

Another Indian in DuQuoin at Atkins Custom Floors.  A different style since he’s the advertising icon for Mohawk Carpets:

One more place in DuQuoin.  I asked the guy working inside about these red ballies.  He had no idea.  Said the building was a Ford dealership a long, long time ago.  Is it possible that these were globes?  No sign of such detail though.

From Ashley:

This Arch tribute / camping sign is in Mount Vernon.  About an hour and a half from St. Louis but a straight shot:

This is what my rear view mirror view is at least half the day:

At the Restwell Motel in Salem, there were two of these neat neon marker signs.  I’ve not seen these before:

Lots of fun stuff from Centralia (my first time there):

at the Sports Bar & Golf Gallery:

Truth in advertising (still):

One more from Centralia:

And lastly, from Shelbyville.  A gorgeous showroom at Leach Wilson Chevrolet (poke at Flickr if you’re interested) and behind it, three of these nice OK signs (Chevy’s used car seal-of-approval):

Day 33: Four State Combo (MO, IL, KY & TN)

Posted in Roadtrip on August 26, 2010 by roadsidenut

The day was spent in this odd little intersection of four states.  Small towns & very little actual picture-taking.  There were destinations here and there that I’ve wanted to see for years — so, done.  The first half of the day we were under a completely grey sky so just as well that we were in Nowhere-Land and the shooting volume was low.  Shooting should be more active now that we’re entrenched in Illinois for probably a couple more days. I’ve decided to focus my efforts here and do some Indiana if there’s time.

Running very late here.  Finishing this up in the AM as the sun is coming up on the horizon.  So let’s dive in.  A couple from Caruthersville, MO.  These freestanding letters appear to be porcelain enamel.  Never seen such a thing — usually these are stainless steel:

And another thing new to me — a small square Rx sign.  It’s installed on the side of the building and makes me wonder if it wasn’t part of a larger sign.  A neat plastic under-canopy sign as well — also odd to be on the side of a building. No entrance there.  There’s also an old blue oval Rexall sign at this drug store.

This neon “extension” fishie is installed on top of the White’s Landing sign in Tiptonville, TN which is right on/near Reelfoot Lake.

While the dogs were playing at that lake, we were approached in the distance by three curious local dogs (obviously residents, not feral).  Grem, a fraction of their size, saw them and chased and terrified them for a bit.  The three locals came back about five minutes later but watched us from afar.

I’m glad that we have finally crossed the Mississippi River for the last time.  It’s been hell the past few days with this winding route taking us back and forth over it.  Nik has been screaming his brains out whenever he sees it.  But with the speed that it’s moving, I’ve been refusing to indulge him.  Sticking to smaller streams and lakes.

In Mayfield, KY, I noticed this group of statues in a cemetery from an overpass and had to spin back to investigate it.  I’m glad even the dogs got recognition.  Here’s a bit about this place:

Cairo, IL is one depressing town. A few nice neon signs and a great armory amidst the abandoned rubble.  The buildings must have been spectacular at one time.  Here’s a bit about the place:
Here’s a bit of the monumental chaos:

From Cape Girardeau, MO.  A nice embossed plastic sign and a three part bulb arrow.  Never seen such an arrow.

From a strip club in East Cape Girardeau, IL (though according to Google, this could be McClure, IL).  I had to do a big U-turn for this one — two bizzaro vehicles.  Tacky but captivating:

One more vehicle.  A delivery truck in Anna, IL at the Home of Bunny Bread.  They also had white Astro vans just like Sparkle with the Bunny logos on them.

Let’s wrap it up with a sign from Metropolis, IL (no, didn’t buy any – they were closed for the day):

Day 32: Illinois & Missouri Combo

Posted in Roadtrip on August 24, 2010 by roadsidenut

It was a low volume day in terms of picturing taking.  High volume in terms of coffee and snack consumption.  Boredom dictated it.  Lots of miles with few stops and plenty of one-photo towns in the southern tips of IL & MO.  Tomorrow, probably more of the same – in pretty much the same type area.  Plus a tiny bit of nearby TN.  Less populated, more rural areas have far fewer of the subjects that I like to shoot.  So this and the next post may be short.  Unless I start shooting landscapes — naaaah. 

Only four days left to shoot — then Sunday will be a hellish interstate day heading home.  I’ll probably focus on southern IL & IN.  No time to be thorough about them either.  The rest of those stops and OH/KY will have to wait until next spring’s trip.

The day pretty much started in Collinsville, IL.  Here are a couple shots from there.  A colorful Independent Order of Odd Fellows sign:

I have a weakness for all things relating to coal mining.  This building detail from the Miner’s Institute:

Although I got no feedback from anybody about the guy I shot with the motorized 4-wheeled bike thing, I will not be discouraged!  In Belleville, IL, I made a big illegal U-turn for this woman and raced to catch up.  She pulled into the McDonald’s and parked which made it easier than a motion shot.  And a far better result with her pose and smile.

A couple signs from Belleville.  Those are painted holes — how strange!  Too bad about the altered text.

This sign has probably seen nine lives.  Still a neat and weird doctor figure:

Snack time!  I have never tried this classic candy.  Although it was way overpriced, I went for it.  How bad could anything with chocolate and marshmallow be?  It turned out to be defective.  I could barely open the wrapper since the contents of one of the candies had leaked out.  The other one was fairly intact but the chocolate tasted stale.  I give this one a D (also for disgusting).  Or maybe I just had a bad batch.

Perhaps equally disgusting to you — though a normal part of my life.  My eager passengers create a lot of window schmear with their noses.  It’s really not as bad-looking as this — I just caught the glare right so you can see it.  My side is perfectly clean.  This is maybe two days worth — that’s what Fantastic and paper towels are for. 

Let’s close with a little bit of a detective story.  I have long wondered if there is anything left of the Greyhound station in Flat River, MO:

Turns out there’s nothing left of Flat River really since it’s become part of Park Hills now.  But I got the scoop on where the building was from the Chamber of Commerce.  So there you go:  now a laundromat — its curved corners are the only thing left (nothing worth mentioning inside).

Here’s the same building design in Waverly, TN that I shot in 2007.   Still there but repurposed as you can see.  More photos & info about the bldg at my site here:


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