Day 4: Mini Trip Wrap-up

This was just a quickie trip — so no map or stats.   I didn’t get to half the stuff on my lists so I may find a way to finish up in October.  I didn’t even touch the Maryland packet, didn’t get to the Amish Man statue in Delaware that’s been restored, etc., etc.  And it’s killing me.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  But the traffic was already a disaster anywhere near I-95 by mid-afternoon.  So I turned tail and headed north to home a little early.

Let’s start with this horsie in Abington, PA.  I don’t know if he started out as a classic, mass-produced fiberglass horse and was just patched over and over — or if he’s always looked this funky.  He has no tail at all:



From Hatboro — I’ve been admiring this building for years — and happy to report it hasn’t changed a bit:



From Feasterville-Trevose.  One of just a few oldies north of Philly on the old Lincoln Highway:



From King of Prussia:  a rather elegant Arby’s re-use.  There’s another Arby’s gone Starbucks in Albuquerque.  I don’t know of any others — but there are possibly more:



From Broomall.  That appears to be a former amusement park kiddie train.  Even with the engine removed, that’s gotta be heavy:


It’s a model train store — but there are two of these giant toy soldiers — or are they Nutcrackers? — in front of the building.  Maybe there was another toy store here before?



Finally, on into Delaware.  From Wilmington.  I love the little neon diamonds on the right.  Yes, the store is still open:



An incredible bit of typography from Wilmington:



From New Castle.  A typically cluttered former Phillips 66 gas station lot.  In the sun, it’s almost a forgiveable shot.  The slanty bays on the left which you can’t quite see.  These gas stations are popular used car lots — and skanky repair shops.  A few of them have gotten lucky and now house coffee shops, fast food restaurants, or ice cream stands.



Also New Castle.  I’m finally getting around to reshooting these “restored” (replicas?) signs.  They look lovely at night:

But this one has been de-Deco-fied — my photo from around 2001:

and now:




So, that’s a wrap.  Maybe I’ll pick up where I left off in October.  If you don’t want to miss it, you can become a “follower” of this blog or a “follower” at Twitter (roadsidenut).  I usually tweet the night before I take off.   I don’t do Facebook (HATE it).  But I usually post a quick note or link to the Society for Commercial Archeology Facebook page at the beginning of a trip.

If you want some more photos from this trip, don’t forget I post different ones to Flickr:


Day 4 of 4: Quick Hi

The dogs & I are safely home.  I’ll try to get this mini trip’s final post to you tomorrow or worst case Tuesday.  Work and all that catchin’-up stuff tomorrow.   Feels like I’ve been gone much longer than four days.

Day 3: Slowin’ Down in Philadelphia

I was all gung-ho to get some shooting done in Philadelphia today since the sun was out and smiling right away.  The threat of rain in the afternoon had me extra antsy (it didn’t come til evening).  But then stuff got in the way — some good, some bad.  Though not too bad.  I noticed a tire low on air.  Took Sparkle over to a nearby Firestone where we got fixed up (a nail) for free since I cleverly bought “road hazard service” at some point.  But it was a real methodical shop which took nearly an hour to do proper procedures (estimate paperwork, paper on the floor mat & plastic around the seat and steering wheel, closing paperwork, etc).  So I was stuck for another hour in New Jersey.

One last shot before crossing the river — from Mount Ephraim.  Probably not a paint store originally.  Bays next to it make me think it was a car dealership or car-related sort of business.  Note the groovy triangulated front windows as well:


On to Philadelphia — one of several sports statues from the 1970s at Citizens Bank Park:


And then on to today’s main event.  I had an early morning “date” with Len Davidson who lives in Philadelphia.  Neon collector, restorer, artist, historian.  And nice guy.  He’s also the author of “Vintage Neon” — a must have book for anyone that loves neon signs.  Pricey — but photo-rich and worth every penny since you’ll keep it on your shelf the rest of your life:

Len gave me a little tour of some things in his personal collection.  Embossed porcelain letters.  These signs were mass-produced.  Here’s one in Jefferson, TX with the glass and neon intact:

A panel from a Howard Johnson’s restaurant — the Lamplighter sign:

A super neat small “box” sign:


Classic & wonderful:

And then, there he is!  In Sparkle’s passenger seat.  Len took a ride around downtown with us for a bit — pointing out some things that I might have missed.  The dogs were mostly good.  Gremlin saw lots of dogs and motorcycles to bark at — which must have amused and irritated Len a bit.  If so, he never let on.  But, thankfully, it was hot and the dogs were tired and nobody jumped all over the guy.  Even though, technically, he was in THEIR seat.


So that was mighty fun.  And an honor to finally meet the guy I’ve read about for decades.  Even though it set my schedule back — way, way back.  Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.  And be polite and patient.  And not carry on like the frenzied fiend that you really are — making every day a race against time.


So let’s get back to the Philly photos.  A random and beautiful Art Deco detail:


A cute Dutch boy holding —  a tire?  Maybe a garage:


A pit stop at Shane’s Candies — sorry, I didn’t buy anything!  My will against sugar these days is mighty strong.  And I already had my sweet for this trip (that frozen custard a couple of days back).  But mostly a stop to document the major exterior change.  This photo from 2009:


But a change in ownership in 2010 — and now the facade is blue and the signs are gone.  OK — at least the look is the same — and they left the stained glass alone — and even more of it is visible.  But still, I’m bummed:

The Wedgewood Blue now continues to the inside (also previously green):

It does look pretty nice and tidy and fancy though.  And it smelled strongly of chocolate mint truffles or something when I walked in.  But I resisted.  The gorgeous register:


A random Deco building detail:


And a nice car showroom that I finally got in the sun:


Just one more photo for this post.  The Masonic Temple downtown has an Egyptian Room.  And I have a growing appreciation for the Egyptian Revival style and all.  But you can only see it on the tour.  The tour is about 45 mins and cheap at $8.  But 45 mins. is a lot for me to give up on a sunny day and one already shrunken by socializing.  Here’s what we missed:

So, mental note the next time I’m in Philly on a crappy, rainy day, I’ll have something to look forward to — and shoot for you.  I did shoot this Sphinx, one of a pair, in the lobby:


Tomorrow, some stuff surrounding Philly — and then down to Delaware.  I doubt I’ll get to anything on the Maryland list before I have to skedaddle home.

Day 2: A Perfect Summer Day in NJ

Fantastic weather, no accidents, snoozing dogs, and tons of photos.  The sun was good from the start so I stayed a bit longer in Wildwood than planned.  I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to reshoot lots of stuff that I’ve shot before in perfect sun.  I also gave the dogs a good, long, hour-long session on the beach there which really helped keep the chaos and barking down today.

I had hoped to start on the Philadelphia stuff by afternoon — but things took longer than planned.  So I raced around like made the last couple hours to finish my NJ list.  Now I’m feeling the pain (exhausted).  The sun runs out at around 6:15 pm on this trip.  My summer trip in Colorado & Wyoming, I could shoot til about 8 pm.  So that’s affecting my progress as well.

On with the show — palm trees Wildwood style:


Many of the motels have put their palms away for the year — removing the fronds and leaving the trunks standing.  Here’s another motel with their palms still out in the off-season — and a bonus neon palm:


On the boardwalk – a recent addition.  I know the octopus and pirates were done by Mark Cline — famous in the fiberglass statue world for all his dinosaurs, Foamhenge and such in Natural Bridge, VA and elsewhere.  Maybe he built the whole display:


Inside a former Woolworth — which seems to be someone’s private collection of stuff now.  It doesn’t look like it opens to the public but I could be wrong.  So sorry for the glare.  This ice cream man sign was originally installed in Wildwood at  Schumann’s Restaurant (now gone).

There’s lots of amusement park stuff visible through the windows — this clown must have been at one of those toss-the-bean-bag type arcade games:


I have no explanation for this cactus in Cape May Court House.  The sign reads “Sarah’s Garden”.  But there doesn’t appear to be a business there:


The restoration of the Palace Depression is coming along.  Last time I was here, Jeff and Kevin were still building all the underground chambers.

Jeff is living at the Palace full-time now.  He’ll probably continue working through October and then cut off til spring.  Jeff was describing how photographs at night show all sorts of orbs (paranormal stuff).  I love his passion about the place.


Last one for the night — I gotta get some sleep.  This mystery building is in Elmer.  Apparently, a little restaurant of some sort.  The house to the right is made of the same stucco-y concrete and shares the same address.  So I’d assume owned by the same person.


Tomorrow, I hope to get thru the Philly area stuff and some Delaware places.  The forecast says the rain should arrive around 4pm.  Somewhat cloudy maybe leading up to that.  But Sunday should be better.  So if it gets nasty, I’ll park & wait rather than head home.

Day 1: Quickie NJ & PA Trip

Hey there!  I needed a little break from the drudgery of my real job and my website labors.  And the dogs are thrilled to be off on adventures!  Though they’ll miss all that good scavenging back home.  The park has been a bonanza of picnic scraps lately.  This will be a little four-day affair — Jersey Shore & Philadelphia-ish mostly, a little Delaware, and if time a bit of Baltimore area.

The usual applies (my faithful blog followers might want to skip this paragraph):  clicking on photos makes them bigger.  Different photos posted each night over at Flickr:
My Flickr photos & blog posts are done late at night, only while traveling.  So it’s just a sampling of the photos taken each day.  And after driving and shooting all day, my writing is not my best.  The subjects covered are the same as my website (buildings, signs & statues) — but usually the stuff here at the blog is the “junk” that won’t make it to the site.  Funky signs, oddball buildings & more random stuff like my dogs & food.  Flickr agilitynut is for the prime-time stuff which will make it to the site.

OK with that out of the way… Let’s get to today.  It was a real mixed bag of sun and grey.  Very summery warm.  With that deliciously skanky marshy smell of coastal marshy NJ.  I guess they have it elsewhere like Rhode Island but I associate it with NJ.  And love it.   The forecast is for mostly sun — Saturday might be rainy & miserable.

Stopped in Perth Amboy for this one.  It’s been on my to-shoot list for years.  Evidently a garage…

… and possibly built at the same time as the building on the left which is also identified as 1916.  Maybe a dealership?


Also Perth Amboy.  Slightly canted windows.  Those chunky blocks can’t be original.  And maybe some sort of tile, panel, or glass facade.  Gratefully, they kept those neon letters.


A sweet yet sad abandoned gas station in Toms River.  A big modern canopy from much later in front of it.  Pumps gone.  I’m not optimistic that this will survive since it’s surrounded by all kinds of new development chain stores & such.


I love the beachie amusement park towns in the off-season.  When everything’s shuttered and no one’s around.   And this time of year, most of them are legal for off-leashing.  And the ones that aren’t, are either deserted or no one seems to mind.  The kids got three beach romps today.  And it wasn’t enough.

A couple of shots from Seaside Heights:

Yeah, the palm is plastic – no real ones in NJ…


Sitting at a light in Atlantic City — then BLAM.  A woman in a Honda Civic plows into me from behind.  She must have been doing about 30.  She said her foot slipped off the brake.  Her car got a barely a scrape but poor Sparkle now has a badly mangled bumper and the Dutch doors don’t open.  The cops came to file a report.  I have her insurance info & all that.  So I’ll be getting a new, free bumper.  Again.  The same thing happened a couple of years ago in Long Island — just sitting at a light.  Is Sparkle just not big enough for people to see her?  Is white an invisible color?   Anyhow, just a hassle — nobody hurt.  And a waste of precious shooting time.


From Egg Harbor City.   I like how the bottle serves as an arrow:


On to Ocean City — where everything was locked up tight.  Including Tee Time which I was really hoping to revisit.  I shot it about 10 years ago when it was pretty derelict.  Then I was told mistakenly that it was demolished.  Then I was told it wasn’t.  Here’s a fun sign near the place which gives you an idea of the vintage wonderfulness of it:


And I was thrilled to see it looking well-taken care of with the figures repainted & shiny. But DAMN stuck behind chain link.  Note the Lucy the Elephant on the right (photo of the real Lucy at my Flickr stream tonight).  I will make a point of getting back here in the spring:


Just about the only thing not closed on the Ocean City boardwalk today — so I had to have one last summer treat.  Rather than the classic Kohr’s orange & vanilla, I went with the chocolate & peanut butter.  A+.


One more from Ocean City — a still operating five-and-dime store:


On to Wildwood.  The SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) is having their big conference here next weekend.  And even though I’m a regular contributor to their publications, I won’t be attending.  Just didn’t work out that way — procrastinating on my part, a crazy work schedule, money, etc.   I think the deadline is past for registration.  But if you’re interested in going — maybe they can squeeze you in:

So much of Wildwood’s mid-century modern motels have been destroyed — but there’s still plenty to see and shoot.  I’ve been there at least a half-dozen times and it’s still fun for me.


Another shot from Laura’s Fudge (more over at Flickr tonight):


A modern sign — but still great:


One of the small but wonderful signs:


One of my faves:


I don’t think I’ve noticed the Beach Colony Motel corner at night before.   I’ve long admired it during the day:
The different colored lights really look nice:




And one more for the night — some of the neon out — but still terrrific:


Tomorrow, lots more NJ and then on to Philadelphia.  I hope you’re grabbing what’s left of summer wherever you are, too.