Hot Hot Hot — Central Valley Wrap-Up

It was a killer hot day.  I was wise enough to run the dogs a good long while in the morning when it was in the 70s.  Later, I managed to find a bit of river for them to swim and stand in.  Sparkle’s AC was running all day long.  At one point, when I started the engine after getting gas, there was a loudish whirring fan sound.  It lasted a few minutes and then went away.  Hasn’t made the noise since.  But I’m fearful of what could happen on the big two week trip coming up.

Anyhow — let’s start in Yuba City at Mug’s Liquor.  Groovy 1960s looking building:


I’m fearful that when those “MUGS” letters finally droop off, that the store will get a new plain ole’ box sign:


From Marysville.  This locksmith shop is still open.  But please don’t say anything to Bob about this peeling paint.  You know it’ll probably go badly if they do repaint:


Also in Marysville and also still open.   If you speak to “Cotton”, tell him how much this faded paint adds grit and integrity to the sign:


Two more signs from Marysville.  This one looks like it has new panels.  I assume the sign is a replica of the original:


Last one from Marysville.  Probably early 1960s with that combo neon & plastic:


From Oroville.  The neon in these channel letters is long gone.  There used to be another sign on top of those little brand name signs on the roof:


From Chico.  Simple and perfect sign but not so great light.  With three font styles and 60+ year old porcelain enamel that continues to shine:


Let’s wrap-up with a couple of signs from Red Bluff.  Both which apparently never get turned off:


Although the arrow’s tubing is broken, note the waggly tail that was surely animated.  Also admire the wood grain letters of “Tip’s”:


I’ll be back posting before you know it.  My big two week trip of the year starts July 18 (counting the days!).  The dogs and I are heading to Oregon & Washington.  Hoping for a tad cooler weather, please.

Until then, don’t forget there are some other photos that I’ve posted over at Flickr:

Happy summer!

dj & the dogs

Grillin’ in the Central Valley for the Fourth

While many of you were grillin’ at backyard picnics this weekend, the dogs and I were grilling ourselves in the Sacramento area.  It was 90s on Friday and 100s on Saturday.  I had had enough by Sunday, had miraculously finished my list, and scurried home to the beach just as fast as I could.  Today is delightfully foggy.  I’ve got lots of photos for you so I’ll split this into two posts — one for each day.

Let’s start with this one in Tulare.  It looks like there was a word there before “The” — maybe someone’s name?blog1

From Visalia — these plastic mortar & pestle signs were mass-produced but are very rare now:blog2

A couple of signs from Fong’s in Fresno — a nice old 1930s/1940s blade sign and a cocktail sign.  I don’t know what the vertical text was on this.  Probably “Restaurant”:

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These plastic clock signs are getting scarcer these days.  I can’t think of any others in California.  This one is installed above a closed Kung Food studio in Fresno.  There’s also a green version:


One of the day’s big heartbreaks.  I wanted to reshoot this U Save Liquor sign in Fresno since I inadvertently chopped off the neon arrow under it when I shot it last year: belmontu

Well, I guess when they finally got around to repainting it, they decided to replace all the neon with backlit plastic letters.  Uff!  What a shame!  blog6

Adrian’s is a cute little walk-up take-out stand.  It probably went by another name originally.  But the stand is looking a little beat now and the cute pole sign is covered with ugliness.  At least this nice little porcelain enamel sign remains on the roof:


Just next door is this sweet sign for Ann’s Beer Mug which I think is closed.  The bulb bubbles must have flashed originally:blog8

I can’t find any history for the El Prado Nightclub in Fresno.  It’s a huge building and has a 1940s look.  I love the little guitars and tacked on blue cocktail: blog9

The Sequoia Super Market is in Ceres.  The “La” was added in later years:

I’m all for recycled buildings — but this one disappoints me.  A lot.  The wavy roofed Dairy Queen in Davis closed in 2013.  Lots of examples of these buildings at my page here:

In 2014, the Davis building was stripped to its frame in preparation for the remodel.  The box at the back was the kitchen & order window set-up.  Everything in front of it would have been dining area with tables originally:mddqAnd now… the finished product as an architects’ office.  For architects, I expected more:  blog11At least they kept the wooden beams inside (shot through the window, best I could do): blog12

Some much better news.  The Mercury Cleaners in Sacramento moved across the street and had their sign restored and installed at the new location just a couple of weeks ago:

Here’s a photo I took of the sign in 2008:


And here’s what the sign looks like now (crappy light, I got a better shot on Sunday which I posted to Flickr).  I don’t know why it was painted blue but I’m assuming that was the original color.  I’ll make calls when I upload to my website.  I’ve also never understood what the winged red disk represents.  I suspect that might have been a Mercury dime originally?  I’m glad they kept that little “Drapery” sign underneath:


OK – that’s enough for this post.  I’ll cook up Day 2 next.


Memorial Day Weekend by the Bay

I took advantage of the 3-day weekend and headed up to the Bay Area for some shooting.  Grey skies and miserable weather for shooting for the most part.  I gave up Monday morning & headed home.  Just as well since the traffic was hell.

I think the “kids” might have had a better time than I did.  They spent gobs of time at various beaches running & sniffing while I waited for the sun to come out — which wasn’t until early afternoon or not at all.  I haven’t subjected you to photos of my traveling companions for a while.  So, here’s the crew in Carmel where dogs are legally allowed to romp off-leash on the beach:


Nik (Sputnik) with ears on the alert for the bounce of the ball since he’s about 98% blind:

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Fixie & Grem (Gremlin).  Fixie is nearly 16 and hanging in there.


Grem & Griz (Griswold):


Everybody was pretty wet and cold:

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OK — back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Since the shooting was so sparse this weekend, I’m lumping everything into this single post instead of separate posts for each day.

This sign in San Jose was adapted in February.  Here’s my photo from August:


And now:


The Bold Knight sign in San Jose is from 1968.   This is what is looked like when it still had the panels:
It closed around 2006.  In 2010, the text panels were replaced for the next tenant, Pizza Jack’s.   That place closed in 2013 and the building itself has been demolished although the sign remains.  I’m assuming that there are plans to keep the sign and adapt it for whatever gets built on the lot.


Some not so good news from Santa Clara.  About a month ago, the Western Motel sign was repainted and the neon removed.  The text at the bottom has changed and the simulated wood has far less detail now.  Here’s my photo from last August:


And now — I don’t know if the painting at the bottom is considered “done” yet:


The other side:


From South San Francisco.  This sign hangs inside South City Lumber (which used to be known as Ace Hardware).  It isn’t lit anymore:


A quick break from the signs — a couple of buildings in Oakland. This IHOP is now a daycare center:


This former bank building housed Global Entertainment, a video store, from at least 2005-2008.  It looks like it’s been vacant for a while.  I think the last bank use was Asiana Bank but I don’t know what bank was here originally.  On-line real estate listings put the build date year as 1974 which looks right from the design:


Since the weather was so crappy, I spent a good chunk of time rendez-vous-ing with people — something I just about never do.  I went to Hayward to see Bruce Kennedy at Bell Plastics who has some new acquisitions.  He’s added a Doggie Diner head, a few funky dinosaurs from Texas, and this Big Boy to his collection of giant statues.   It’s been messed with a bit — earrings and brass knuckles added:


I don’t know if this Big Boy is a copy or one of the very rare what-I-call “Suspenders Bob” statues.  Normally, the Boy is holding a hamburger on a plate aloft in his right hand.  These statues have the exact same pose but the statue’s right hand is against his chest.  I don’t know how many of these were built but there were only two on display that I know of — both in Michigan (Livonia and Ann Arbor) and both gone now.  Here’s the statue in Livonia which I shot in 2011 with my crew:


I also got to meet Jim Rizzo at Neon Works in Emeryville who has a nice collection of neon signs in his shop.  I think all of the signs are from San Francisco.  He’s never actively pursued the signs.  They were just donated to him in exchange for removing them.  Here’s a little article about Jim:

And here’s a sampling of the signs at his place:

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The sign that I had most wanted to see in his collection was the Quality Donuts sign.  It’s still in two pieces but he plans to restore it at some point and stand it up in the yard behind his shop.  It is the twin sign to the All-Star Donuts sign in San Francisco:

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At least the grey skies didn’t interfere with a little nighttime shooting.  This sign in San Francisco has been painted a dull bricky orange.  There are red porcelain enamel panels underneath — and mysterious text behind “Market”:


The Tribune Tower in Oakland is very pretty at night:



In March, bulbs were added to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco to commemorate the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.  This is how the building would have appeared at night then.  The bulbs will be removed in December:


I don’t know if this YMCA sign in San Francisco is the “real deal” (a well-maintained vintage sign), a replica, or retro (new made to look old).  Here’s a day shot if you’d like to form your own opinion:


I know this sign in S.F. is new since Golden Boy Pizza opened in 1978:


Okay, that’s it for now.  For those of you that are interested, I’ve been slogging away the map-adding project at my website.  About 1/3 of the way through the Mid-Century section and the Signs section to do after that.  The dogs and I will be back on the road for the 4th of July weekend with a Central & Northern California trip.

More photos from this trip over at Flickr:
Take care,

dj & the dogs

Orange County Goodies

Sunday was devoted to Orange County and some L.A. area stops.  I got the dogs to the fantastic beach in Huntington Beach first thing for legal off-leash romping.  I don’t mind getting up at 5:30am on the weekend for the ones I love.  Maybe just a little.  The coastal fog was still lingering in the morning as evidenced by this sign in Costa Mesa.  This sign has mysterious origins since it appeared in the parking lot sometime after 2011.  There is no “Midway Market” here — just an assortment of businesses like the Waffleholic Cafe which was awfully tempting.  The other side of the sign is flat with painted letters rather than the raised, applied type like those on the side shown here.  There are holes on each letter where the neon would have been:


Just down the block at New York Hardware is this sign strapped to a fence.  Another super oldie with opal glass letters.  Notice how the metal was perforated with little strips to connect those internal bits (the P, A, R, D) to the panel.  Google Street View shows the sign has been there since at least 2008.  And the company’s website shows at least two other neon hardware signs inside — as well as a nifty sputnik light fixture:

I’m waiting to hear back from the owner about his collection and what he knows about this sign.  I’ll update this description if I find out anything:


Back to Huntington Beach where it hadn’t gotten any sunnier yet.  I’m a fan of this building even though it was built in 1985.  Okay, so it is sort of a Disney interpretation of Streamline Moderne but I still like it.  It originally housed the Bubbles Balboa Club restaurant.  It was a sunny day when I shot this in 2008.  The building was housing Bubbles Art Gallery then:


By 2013, the building was boarded up and vulnerable looking.  Then, last year, it was put to use as Maverick’s Gastropub.  Sorry to see the tile, block glass, and porthole windows on the doors are gone.  But better than a new CVS drug store or something, right?


From Orange.  Some real pretty shapes going on here.  At first I thought that the “Angel” might be a reference to Angel Stadium in Anaheim which is visible just north of here.  But I think this motel preceded the baseball stadium and the text doesn’t look like it’s been adapted:


Moving on to Zip’s Liquor from Anaheim — and a mystery sign right behind it:


The countless times I’ve been to Long Beach and I never noticed Don’s.  That mottled, faded paint really gives this sign character.  If this was repainted all pretty, it would ruin it, no?


One of the high points of the day was my visit to Back in the Day Classics in Carson:

The place has a big parking filled with incredible restored cars — but that’s really not my thing.  I had actually hit the brakes a couple of years ago to shoot a Flintstones car.  But I never knew about the treasures inside the building.  There’s all sorts of candy machines, bicycles, toys, etc.  All sorts of Americana… and loads of neon signs.

My visit was actually prompted by an email that they sent to me a few weeks ago asking for info about “Harbie” (Harbor gas station) statues.  Piecing together the clues, it sounds like the statues came from Camperland in Garden Grove.  There were five statues there.  Just two of them were on display until they disappeared around 2011.  Three of the statues had already been sold before Back in the Day got these two.  At some point, they had been repainted.  More examples & info about these statues at my page here:

Both statues were perched in the rafters so I couldn’t get a straight shot:


Before I found the Harbies, I was blown away by this incredible nine foot tall Pep Boys statue.  It can be yours for $27,000.   The paint was completely faded away after sitting in a backyard in Lakewood for 10 years.  This page shows what the statue looked like before Back to the Classics had it restored:{50E86F25-2F70-4833-B5AA-292888AF2602}


But I know, you want to see the signs.  First, I must thank Brianna who gave me the royal tour.  Just 20 years old and she really knows her stuff.  Whatever they’re paying her is not enough!

I took loads of photos here and I’m only posting a few.  Inventory is constantly changing so some of these might be gone by next month with new beauties replacing them.  This Hotpoint Appliance sign is selling for $3,600:


The Navajo Lodge sign is going for $4,750:


The sign on top is modern and selling for a mere $435.  The bottom sign has got to be vintage.  I don’t see it listed at their website:


The Mordica Motors sign is cool.  But the Western Union sign is way cooler, in my opinion, because of its age and rarity.  This sign was lit with internal bulbs.  The steel panels are perforated with translucent opal glass plates behind each letter.  The Mordica sign is selling for $4,250.  I don’t know the price of the Western Union sign (not listed at the website):


I don’t know what location this Boy’s Big Boy came from — but it’s “real” (not a reproduction).  The sign is 92 inches in diameter and going for $25,000:


The Sundries sign is listed at $1,050.  The Lincoln sign is going for $15,200:


The Kaiser sign is listed at $8,500.


This Pure Oil gas station sign is a doozie.  The zigzag rings flash separately and each letter lit sequentially. The price is $12,850:


This fancy Pennzoil sign is selling for $6,295.  I don’t see the two signs below it listed at the website:


There are lots of clocks for sale.  This old octagon was one of my favorites.  It’s going for $2,700:


This sign has really nice hand painting.  This sign came from the Los Angeles area.  It was installed on top of the main text sign and revolved.  The neon was added by Back to the Classics during the sign’s restoration.  Although I’m not a fan of adding neon to signs that didn’t have it originally, I’ll admit it’s a nice touch here and probably really improves its marketability.   The asking price is $4,995:


Here’s a close-up of the tacos, unlit:


I hope you enjoyed the sampling of photos from this weekend.  I’ll be taking a break from my hellish map project (just Mid-Century Buildings & Signs sections to go) to add these approximately 200 photos to the site.

The dogs and I will be back on the road soon for the Memorial Day three-day weekend.  We’ll be up in the S.F. Bay area then.

Oh — and don’t forget, a couple dozen other photos from this weekend over at Flickr:

Take care,


L.A. & O.C. Getaway

I took a little weekend jaunt to the L.A. and Orange County areas to shoot some stuff that’s been on my list for a while.  Lots of remodeling, repainting, etc. and some things that I only found out about recently.

Callahan’s Restaurant in Santa Monica opened in 1946 and closed last year.  Here’s my photo from 2013 (note Callahan’s was on the white side of the building on the left):


Thankfully, things have not changed all that much.  Ingo’s Tasty Diner opened in the space last month and the interior still has a similar & only slightly fancier look.  There still the counter & booths.  The exterior is now painted entirely white.  I’m relieved that the terrazzo and Vienna Pastry are still there.  The signs have been scaled-down a bit.  Actually, pretty classy.


I’ve passed this Bill’s Liquor sign in Santa Monica hundreds of times during the day but never stopped for it.  Today, with the sun right on it, I realized it was truly an ancient ripple tin sign.  So, most likely, very late 1920s or 1930s.   Although there are probably a dozen layers of paint on it, you can still see the little vertical grooves [clicking on photos at my posts gives you a larger view]


I shot this sign at night for a blog post last year:

This nifty bank building in Reseda looks like it’s been boarded up for years.  I’m hoping that it will eventually find a tasteful tenant or developer that will preserve this graceful gem.   It was built in 1961 as a Metropolitan Savings & Loan.  By 1974, it was an Allstate Savings & Loan.  After that, I don’t know.  The wavy roof & exposed beams remind me a lot of these Dairy Queen building which seem to have been only built in California:


Another change I was fretting about in North Hollywood that didn’t turn out badly.   The Starlite Room in North Hollywood opened in 1955.  This sign might have been from then — or it might have been added in the 1960s.  This photo was taken in 2013 just before the bar closed:


Later that year, new owners changed the name to the Starlite Cantina & changed the text a bit on the sign.  I wish the “Cantina” font was more vertical like the original — but, hey, can’t complain too much:


I stumbled upon this bizarre scene in Silver Lake.  The abandoned Sunset Pacific Motel and surrounding palm trees got a limewash treatment as an art project.  The building is scheduled to be demolished and the limewash is supposed to wash off when it rains.  But, since it only rains about once a year for 10 minutes in Southern California, I don’t know when those palms will look normal again.  The lime is supposed to be safe for the palms but many people are worried about the birds.  More about this project here:

and here:



This was another little surprise in Los Angeles:  this wonderful streamline apartment complex.  Poking around on-line today, it looks like it was designed by Milton Black and built in 1936.  A two-bedroom goes for about $2700:



This Schwinn sign in Los Angeles is looking very sad these days.  Here’s my photo from 2008:


And now:


Since the store was open, I stopped in to get the scoop.  Safety Cycle is actually in the building next door now so they no longer own the sign.  The fate of this sign will be up to the developer.  That space is empty now but work is going on.  Of course, Safety Cycle would like the sign to stay since it’s advertising for their store.  But if it gets much worse, maybe they won’t want to be associated with it.  The City might even want to see it gone at this point with all the tagging and rust.  I’ll nudge MONA (the Museum of Neon Art) in hopes that the museum might want to get moved to the top of the list in case the owner decides to remove the sign.  This sign was never animated and, as far as I know, was not mass-produced by Schwinn.

This cigar sign is in a back alley at The Grove shopping center.  The panels appear to be old but the neon looks fresh.  I know nothing about its history:


This Norge Ball, beat-up as it is, was also a pleasant surprise to me.  The laundry is long gone and Benny’s Market looks like it’s been there for decades.  Too much time and trouble to remove it from the pole on the roof I suppose.  There are two other Norge Balls in Los Angeles — one as crunched as this one, and one in great shape.  There are only about 60 of them left around the country:


Some good and bad news about the Royal Viking Motel in Los Angeles which closed last year.  It promptly reopened as the Pod Inn and adapted the signs.  This nice neon sign was stripped of the neon channel letters.  The panels were painted a peachy orange and backlit plastic Pod Inn letters were installed on the faces.  Here’s the sign in 2012 — I’ll spare you what’s replaced it:


At least the sign around the corner was left pretty much intact — just the name change.  From 2012:


and today:


Just as I pulled off a freeway exit, I heard a “pap, pap, pap” sound that I knew immediately had to be a tire thing from the frequency during acceleration & deceleration.  Sure enough, a rear tire was impaled by a giant bolt but no loss of air yet.  There was a Pep Boys straight ahead — but a two hour wait.  I found another small tire shop “Loco’s Tires” which patched the tire in 5 minutes.  Not even enough time to find out who “Loco” was.  Passing by the Pep Boys again, I spotted this little sign at Tony’s Shoe Repair which shares a corner of the building:


I’ve seen this one many times from the 710 Freeway and finally got off to shoot it.  Melmac Dinnerware is now highly collectible.  This must have been the factory for all those nifty melamine (plastic) plates & cups:


Spring makes me miss all the magnolias, dogwood, forsythia, tulips, etc. back East.  But we DO have purple jacaranda trees here!


And we also have some not so natural trees.  This faux pine cell tower was in East LA. which made it even more humorous:


Two more signs for this post.  These two are just a couple blocks apart:  This one at Ed’s Welding:


I think Chase Equipment is gone now.  The place seemed to be selling used car parts:


That’s it for now.  I’ll try to get you a post with some of Sunday’s photos later today.


More from this Desert-ish Weekend Trip

I was shocked after such a sunny Saturday to have a hazy, useless grey Sunday morning in Brawley.  I waited and studied the skies a bit — but it didn’t look like it would get better anytime soon.  So, I shot what was there (which wasn’t much) and moved on.  Here’s the White Cross Drugs store which is still in business.  The two sign panels must have been a single projecting sign originally:




Still in Brawley.  No businesses or buildings anywhere near this sign.  I love the bits of neon which still cling to the sign:



Moving on to Indio.  I think this place is still in business:



Done with the desert & onwards towards L.A.  This place is in Corona:


The building itself is pretty quirky.  Was that shingled canopy a later addition?  Was the building



The traffic in L.A. was insane and I cut the day a little short.  Mostly, to deal with a computer glitch that happened that morning.  After a schlepp to and wait at Best Buy, it turned out to be nothing.  Or at least I hope so.  The laptop wouldn’t power up for me after trying about five times.  Something about maybe not holding down the button long enough.  Huh?  I’ve never had to hold down the button — just pushed it since I’ve had this thing for six months.  So, now I’m holding my breath and holding the button down and all seems fine.  Whatever.

I’ll leave you with this gigantic sign from Los Angeles which has it all:  mixed fonts, plastic, neon, bulbs — and just the grooviest arrow.  I also love that inexplicable, random blue piece below the arrow and the rocks at the bottom:



For more photos from this weekend’s trip, don’t forget the stuff over at Flickr:

I’ve penned in another L.A. trip a couple of weeks from now to get more serious with this list.  That desert heat and boring stretches between stuff really wiped me out.  So, I’ll be back with more photos before you know it.  Thanks for tuning in!

dj & the dogs

Desert-ish Weekend Roadtrip

I wanted to make sure I’d have good weather for this little desert trip — but I think I waited a little long.  Although it just turned spring, I think it was over 100 today.  I’m happy to report that Sparkle’s A/C is working very well these days.

I braved the Friday night traffic and hoped with the time change that I could get more shooting in.  But I only got to a few things before that awful “golden hour” set in.  At least I got to see the completed restoration of the Idle Hour in North Hollywood.  Miracles do happen!  After sitting vacant since 1984, the giant barrels are finally back in action.



Here’s a photo I took back in 2008:


And a framed vintage photo from 1941 inside the bar:




The lighting was kinda sucky — but here’s the “rescue dog” in the back patio of the Idle Hour.   This doggie was built in 1994 for the Petersen Automotive Museum.  The museum decided this guy didn’t fit in with all the revamping going on.  Kinda like deciding your dog doesn’t match the new furniture, isn’t it?  Well, at least he’s got a good home now.  This dog is a recreation of the Bulldog Cafe which was built in L.A. around 1928:



Up and at’em early this morning in Burbank since there was mucho driving to do.  At dawn, a great illegal retrieving session with the dogs at some golf course like recreation center since I knew it would be too hot later on for any romping.  Too early for good photos but here are a few anyway.  Samuel’s Florist in Burbank:


And Compton’s Shoe Repairing in Burbank:

I stopped for a quick peek in Glendale at the new sign installed at the future home of MONA (Museum of Neon Art).  A kindly electrician let me in to see the progress of the place.  In an article I read just this week, the museum was due to open “later this year.”  However, this guy said they should be done with construction in a two or three weeks.  This sign is a replica of the one that was installed in Westwood.  It was too far gone to restore.  The neon drips will be sequentially lit like the original.  That’s the replica diver sign poised on the corner of the museum building in the background:



I’ve been to Pasadena countless times but never noticed this guy until today.  The rooftop sign:


and the cool storefront below:



These Farmers Insurance signs are getting very rare.  I think there are only two or three left in the country.   This one is in Redlands:




This incredible sign is in Yucca Valley.  I don’t know what it advertised for originally.  Note the pigeon posing right below the buffalo for scale:



This sign is also from Yucca Valley:



On to Twentynine Palms where there is a sign junkyard in somebody’s backyard.  No hole in the fence — believe me, I looked!


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This abandoned gas station & cafe are in Desert Center.   The cynic in me had me thinking that this was used for some recent film or commercial.  Those pumps seem awfully nostalgic:


And this sign with the 3-D effect just had to be modern:



But then, I see this 1940s vintage photo at eBay now & I wonder how vintage this place is — maybe the sign was revamped recently?


On to Blythe.  At first glance, I figured this had to be a former Denny’s.  But, no, the waitress assured me that the Courtesy was built in 1964.  And the building is actually different.  The boomerang roof is actually pretty short and with a different look from the front, it was probably different enough to prevent a lawsuit:


The interior is gloriously intact.  However, the waitress said that the owner will be remodeling it later this year.  Uh oh!  If you’re into vintage coffee shop decor, you might want to hop on the I-10 the first chance you get:

More stuff from Blythe for the remainder of this post:



I’ve never seen such a marvelous arrow tail loop before.  A pity what’s become of the rest of the sign:



I’ll leave you for the night with one more lovely relic:



More shooting tomorrow here in the desert and then on to some L.A. stuff before the long drive home.  I’ll get back to you on Monday or Tuesday with that final post.

In the meantime, more photos from today over at Flickr:


—  Night-night from dj & the dogs in Brawley

Adaptive Reuse & Demolitions (more virtual discoveries)

I’m still banging away at adding maps to my website.   I’m currently working on some building sections before I dive into the abyss of neon signs.  I’ve got some good and bad news from the Car Showrooms section to share with you.  I’m not getting a lot of feedback about these posts but maybe there are one or two of you that are quietly enjoying them.  For the rest of you, hang in there!  I’ll be taking a few roadtrips soon and will get you some pretty neon sign photos.

This wonderful dealership in Grinnell, IA was built around 1930.  Later, it housed a hardware store.  When I took these photos in 2010, the building was occupied by Main Street Furniture & Appliances.


Those spoked wheels with wings are the give-away that this was a car dealership.  However, I have not been able to find out what the original name of the company was or what make of car was sold here:


This Google Street View 2013 photo reveals that the building has a new tenant.  In 2013, McNally’s Foods moved into the building.



These buildings in Carroll, IA were built in 1913 for the Swaney Auto Company.  The building in the middle still bore the red Wittrock Motor Company letters when I took this photo in 2006:

The 2012 Google Street View map reveals a major change.  In 2009, the buildings were adapted for the Santa Maria Vineyard Restaurant & Tasting Room.  The Wittrock Motor Works letters are gone now.  The parking area between the buildings were walled off and is now used as a dining area.  I wish it wasn’t such a fortress now.  Maybe they could have using cast iron fencing or something lower.  But, hey, at least the buildings weren’t leveled and this damage could be undone later.




This building in Chicago wasn’t so lucky.  This Perillo Lincoln Mercury Saab location started life as a Pontiac dealership.  Looks to be late 1940s to me.  I took this photo in 2005.  There was a service bay or two on the right.   Love those big windows to show off the cars:

Well, by 2014, Perillo had moved and the building was replaced with a brand spanking new Mini Cooper dealership.  Sigh.



This building in Chicago was spared.  This Grossinger Cadillac building was built in 1911.  Tower Oldsmobile was located here before Grossinger.  I don’t know what was here originally.  I took these photos in 2009:


Google Street View revealed a transformation.  By 2014, Grossinger had moved to a new location and Plum Market was the building’s new occupant.  The service bays have been glassed up but all the nifty details are still there:



From Galesburg, IL.  When I noticed that the name Lakis Ford Dodge had changed to Yemm Ford, I thought it best to make a call to find out if this “Dodge Dome” was still there.  The name change took place last year.  The woman on the phone told me that the building was being demolished right then!  Crap.  Here’s a couple of photos from my website to show you what you missed:

lakis lakis2

Steve Lakis Dodge was built in 1973 for . These “Dodge Domes” were built elsewhere.  I’ve never figured out how many.  But the only other one that I know of — and now apparently the only survivor — is the one in Marietta, GA.  It was still painted the company colors (white with red trim) when I took this photo of the vacant Marietta Dodge Jeep showroom in 2009:


This showroom was built in the late 1960s.   It sat vacant for years and I figured it would eventually be demolished.  Dealerships are pretty ruthless about constantly upgrading their buildings and signs.  However, thanks to Google Street View, I see that as of 2014, the building was housing Georgia Luxury Cars:



Back to work.  I’m only halfway thru the Showrooms section.  I’ll probably do a similar post soon when I tackle the “Eateries” section.


Random Roadside – More “Virtual” Finds

Hey there — I’ve been banging away at adding maps to my website and I’ve got some more virtual roadtrip discoveries to share with you.

This lighthouse-ish building had been part of the Galley Restaurant in Valdosta, GA.  Maybe “Galley” wasn’t the restaurant’s first name and maybe this is some Islamic or Mideast lookout tower reference that I’m unfamiliar.  Anyway, it looked like it had been empty for a while when I took this photo in 2010:



Well, Google Street View reveals that the building was transformed into the Mongo restaurant by 2012:



Things were looking pretty bleak for this riverboat-shaped building in Clarksdale, MS when I took this photo in 2007:


It was originally built as the Cream Boat ice cream shop.  I think that was in the 1970s.  The building later housed a recording studio and record store.  Restoration started in 2009 but then the project seemed to be abandoned.  Then, lo and behold:  all done in 2013.  This year, it reopened as the Dreamboat:  a ribs & tamale place.  It doesn’t look like there’s anything that I could eat there but you carnivores might want to support them if you’re ever nearby:

Here’s what the building looks like now — photo courtesy of Kelly Ludwig:

Jerry's Dreamboat


I’ve managed to get all the maps added for nearly all the statues of People, Animals & Things at my website.  I just have the Dinosaur section to go.  It’s been a relief to see how many things are still there.  But devastating to find out what’s gone.  Here’s one heartbreaker.  There were three of these fox statues posed on the roofs at Fox Chevrolet dealerships in the Baltimore area.  The name came from the original owner’s name, Lou Fox.  In 2013, the three dealerships became AutoNation Chevrolets with those hideously modern and mass-produced facades.   All three statues were destroyed during the remodeling of the showroom buildings.  Here was the one in Timonium:


And one from Baltimore to show you the scale of these guys:



Some happier news.  In Albuquerque, the spray foam, cowboy statue in front of Aesop’s Gables was repainted in 2014.  The upper torso statue is about 10 feet tall.  I was sure it would just disappear one day.  Here’s what it looked like when I shot him in 2012:


And here’s what he looks like now — from Google Street View:



The past couple of years have been rough for female statues.  In July of last year, the “Big Girl” at the Colonial Family Restaurant in Flint, MI was removed.  The statue was gracefully removed with a crane but no one knows where it went.  The owner of the restaurant said he wanted to “protect it from vandals.”  Which makes no sense since the 13 foot tall statue was installed WAY up in the air on top of the sign and there were never any reports of damage to it.  She had been there since 1978.  The skeptic in me makes me wonder if somebody offered a LOT of money for her:



And now, I’ve just learned, that Fran’s Hamburgers in Austin, TX closed in 2013.  Google Street View shows the building was still vacant in 2014 and the eight foot tall statue is gone.  She was built in 1997.   I can’t find anything on-line about where she went:


If you’d like to see more female statues, I’ve got a couple of pages of them at my site here:
And there are also the Miss Uniroyal statues here:


After I finish with the Dinosaurs, I’ll be moving on to the Mini Golf section.  Then, I’ll start on the Signs section.  That’ll probably keep me busy until next year.  Seriously.  I’m sure I’ll have lots of good & bad news during that part of this project.  When the weather warms up a bit in the desert, I’ll take a couple of weekend trips & post some photos from the road.  But for now, I’m hard at work updating descriptions a bit as I add the maps.


Xmas by the Bay (Day 4 of 4)

OK — I’ve got a nice hefty, final post for you.  Although the days were short on this trip, I had full sun every day.  Just the week before, the Bay Area was drowning in torrential rain.

Let’s start with this plastic wonder from Oakland:



Unfortunately, no sun was shining on the cute shoe repair sign next door.   So, I’ll skip that photo and give you these two window decals:




Lots more goodies from Oakland:



I believe there are more neon martini glasses per square mile in the Bay Area than anywhere else.  A bartender once told me a story that bars could not advertise with the word “bar” (after Prohibition?) and used this glasses as their symbol instead.  I don’t know if there’s any truth to it:



I’ve asked Tod at the American Sign Museum if there’s a name for these wonderful old signs and he doesn’t know of any.   Hence, I’ve just taken to calling them “applied letter signs”:



A small version of SoCal’s giant “alignment bear” signs — see about 1/3 the way down my page here:



This building was built in 1947 for the Connell Motor Company, featuring Oldsmobiles.  At that point, there was just the name “Connell” wrapped around the roof lip.  By the time of my photo from 2008, the brands and neon had multiplied quite a bit:



Alas, all those letters were removed in 2011 when Bay City Chevrolet moved in.  Here’s what the building (now vacant) looks like now:



A detail from one of the many nice Art Deco buildings in Oakland:



Quadruple neon tubing — I don’t think I’ve ever seen that!  At Art’s Crab Shak:



You can still see a few “bullet holes” where the neon was.  This sign was painted blue then.  Sometime after 2009, the sign got this makeover:



The bad news:  Hooper’s Chocolates closed in 2010.  The good news:  the thrift store that’s in the building now is letting this sign stay:



I wish I could find a vintage photo of what the sign on the right looked like.  It seems to be related to the bar:



Steele’s Discount Scuba has been here since 1958:



This bulbous beauty is installed above Williams Liquor:



Finally, we’re moving on from Oakland.  This sign is at the Black & White Liquor store in Berkeley.  Obviously, this was Wilton’s Liquor originally with alternating flashing neon text:



I’m so happy these lights are still there across from UCB (University of California at Berkeley).  That’s Sparkle there behind the pole.  She rolled over to 390,000 miles on this trip:



A couple more shots from Berkeley.   You know you’re old when you remember Carte Blanche credit cards:



The typewriter on this one is a separate hovering panel:



I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual romp around the Bay.  I still have lots more to shoot up here.  I’ll probably be back in the spring when the days are longer.  In the meantime, I’ve got more than 500 photos from this trip to add to my website.  And then there’s that horrendous map project there that I’ve been plugging away at.  I’ll get you another post soon about some of the discoveries I’ve made, good and bad, while doing that.

Now, don’t forget, there are lots of other glorious photos over at my Flickr account from this trip:
Happy 2015 to all of you!

dj & the dogs