Xmas by the Bay (Day 1 of 4)

Four days off and the forecast of sun:  that’s all the encouragement I needed.  Plus Xmas is my birthday and I have a tradition of celebrating by being on the road.  Off to sunny but chilly SanFran.  Temps in the 50s and 40s at night.  That’s about 20 degrees colder than it is in SoCal.  But, yes, I remember those long winters in NYC all too well.  Throwing balls for dogs on 18 degree mornings in the rain in Prospect Park.  Not missing that.

I started the trip in Salinas and then had some other stops in the South Bay (San Jose, Sunnyvale, etc.).  I didn’t get to San Francisco until afternoon.  Shooting days are short since the sun gives out around 4pm.  But I got quite a lot — and blasted have blasted through about 90% of the SF list today (I’m a day behind in blog-posting).  So, let’s get to it.  And a quick reminder:  all the photos open to a bigger photo when they’re clicked upon.

A former Sambo’s in Sunnyvale.  Not the prettiest recycling project — but at least they didn’t try to box up the fun roofline:

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A former Orange Julius in Redwood City with a remuddled front.  There would have been a walk-up counter jutting out under that zigzag canopy (now walled up):

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The Brentwood Bowl in South San Francisco with its pretty, scripty neon:

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In context:

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On to San Fran for the duration of this post.  Wonderful plastic sign at the Geneva Steakhouse.  I assume the meat & veggies on the skewer were all hand cut.  What a fun day at the sign shop, no?

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This is the “Goodin” side of the Goodin Realty sign.  The other sign reads “Realty” in yellow and red:

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The sun wasn’t helping me here — but, hey, it’s just my blog.  The photos don’t have to be perfect, right?  I may go back for this guy again tomorrow:

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The 9th Avenue Liquor store:

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This sign is impossible to shoot nicely since it’s on the south side of the street and never gets light.  We love you anyway, Norman!

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I know most of you are here for the signs, but I’ll subject you to a little of SF’s wondrous Art Deco detailing:

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The paint job really adds a lot.  And the sun:

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And, although I’m a day late, Merry Xmas everyone from South San Fran!  That’s Santa & his reindeer on top of the See’s Candies factory building.  And, if you haven’t had See’s Candies, you’re really missing out on one of life’s wonders:

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If I’m not too zonked, I’ll try to get you another post tomorrow night.  And for more photos from today — don’t forget the Flickr stream:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

dj & the dogs

Random Roadside – “Virtual “Finds

I was all set to do a little San Francisco & Bay Area trip for this four-day Thanksgiving weekend.  But then I checked the weather forecast — not good.  Rain and clouds seemed pretty definite.  So, rather than wasting time and money sitting around being miserable instead of shooting, I’m staying home instead.  And I’ll keep on keeping on with the ridiculously humongous website task that I’ve been working on.

I’ve started adding Google Street View map links to the descriptions for each “thing” at my 2400+ pages.  It might take a few years, seriously.  But once this mega project is done, you and I will be able to instantly check to see if something’s been remodeled, repainted, or removed.  It’ll also be handy for you to find out where things are located.  I’ve only gone through a few small sections so far but it’s been gratifying to find out what’s still there — and exciting/depressing to find out changes that have taken place.  Here are some examples of these discoveries.

GIANT STUFF

The Bondurant’s Pharmacy building in Lexington, KY was constructed in 1975 .  It’s one of those rare mimetic buildings — built in the shape of a mortar & pestle.  The store closed in 2011 and roadside folks like us worried about what would happen.  Then, in 2012, Imperial Liquor moved in.  It’s a wonder that the building survived (maybe it’s landmarked in some way?) but I gotta say the new paint job is kinda shocking.  Here’s a photo I took in 2001:

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And what it looks like now — photo courtesy of JLK productions:

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This 20 foot tall milk bottle was installed on the roof of the Reed Bros. Dairy building in Memphis in the 1940s.  After years and year of neglect, and the impending 2012 demolition of the building, it seemed this wonderful thing would be a goner.  Here’s my photo from 2007:

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But miracles do happen.  Instead of being scrapped, it was donated to the Children’s Museum of Memphis.  It was restored and has been installed there.  I can’t find any photos of it in its new home — but here’s the refurbished bottle ready for the install.  Photo courtesy of the Commercial Appeal.

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I have three bits of news concerning Frostop Root Beer stands.  Around 2011, the stand in Greenville, MS relocated.  I tracked down the new address and not seeing the giant mug pole sign at Google, I feared the worst (that it was at a landfill someplace).  Here’s my photo from 2007:

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But then I came across this photo from tinkerbrad.  What a relief!  It’s been installed in the parking lot at the new location:

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A bit of bad Frostop news.  The stand in the Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans, which had been boarded up for many years, was demolished in 2013.  A big empty lot there now at Google Street View.  Here’s my photo from 2010:

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The Frostop mug in Valparaiso, IN was a local icon.  After the stand closed, a bank was built on the site in 2005.  Instead of trashing the sign, the bank refurbished it, neon and all, and kept the mug spinning.  They even named the location the “Frostop branch.”   Here’s my photo from 2006:

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Well, I don’t know what happened, and I guess the city had no say or interest in it since I can’t find any news articles about the sign.  No “about to be relocated” or “where did it go” stories.  But after a quick call to the bank, I tracked down the sign’s new whereabouts.   Last year, it was sold to the Westpoint Lounge in Westville, IN where its been repainted to resembled a mug of beer.  Such a shame.  Photo from Google Street View:

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One more Frostop mug story — this one from Tucson, AZ.  This mug is much smaller than the others described above but the building that’s next to it is clearly the unique Frostop design.  I’m guessing this mug was a replacement.  In any case, when I first saw the mug in 2008, it was dressed up appropriately for the Mexican restaurant that it accompanied:

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Then, by my 2012 visit, it had been repainted for Three and a Half Brothers:

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By the following year, here it is back as a beer mug — courtesy Google Street View:

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BUS STATIONS

The Greyhound station in Tuscaloosa, AL has been on my to-shoot list for many years.   Now, it’s too late.  Here’s a photo from 2007 by M.M.:

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And from Google — here’s what the 2013 remodel looks like.  Granted, they did keep the building’s shape and repurposed the sign:

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While we’re talking bus stations, the Ann Arbor, MI Greyhound station is undergoing some big changes.  There are lots of on-line articles about it.  But the short story is, they’re demolishing the building but keeping the 1940 facade and sign.  Here are my photos from 2011:

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And here’s what was left this summer (don’t worry, the sign’s in storage) — photo courtesy of Ross:

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And here’s what the six-story hotel behind it will look like.  Sigh.  OK, yes, at least the facade was saved even if it’s dwarfed and out of place now.  It makes me worry that, if this became a trend, more financially-non-viable small buildings might be “saved” and/or replaced with Disney-fied, false fronts under the guise of being “historically sensitive.”  Anyhow — I’ll spare you a long digression.  Illustration courtesy of MLive:

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FIBERGLASS STATUES

I was very sad to find out that Cherokee Music in Cumming, GA closed in 2011.  The store had a wonderful collection of giant fiberglass statues.  I don’t know where they went but at least a couple of the Pink Panther statues found a good home at Flack’s Flooring in town.  There were three other baby Pink Panthers, too — whereabouts unknown.   Here are the two big ones at their new home, photo courtesy Marie, Let’s Eat!:

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The giant peanut in Pearsall, TX was looking pretty shabby when I last saw it in 2008:

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I figured it would just disappear one day.  The giant goober was built in 1973 and I imagined that the locals would be happy to see the eyesore removed.   But, incredibly, thanks to the Texas Peanut Producers Board and the H.E.B. supermarket chain had the thing restored in 2011.  My goodness, they’re even lighting it at night!  Photo courtesy of SMF:

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Here’s a wonderful newbie fiberglass sculpture in Mackinaw City, MI.  This place, Wienerlicious, just opened this year.  The hot dog is 60 feet long and is installed on top of a former gas station.  A friend of mine, Mark Comstock, sent me this photo:

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This blog post has rambled on uncontrollably — better stop now.  Can you tell that I’m excited to be updating descriptions and making these discoveries?  Adding these maps is not as much fun as a mega-roadtrip, but I’m enjoying it as tedious as it is.

Some other quick stuff.  

For those of you that are really into details, I’ve created a sitemap for my website which is supposed to make the search engines happy (improves rankings and makes things come up higher in the results when you do Google searches).  It was not fun to make and it’s scary and ugly as hell, but some of you might like it as a navigation tool, etc.

Some of you may already know that I write the articles about signs for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journals and newsletters (“Road Notes”).  I just turned in an article about mechanical signs (signs with moving parts).  I really only write about signs (for the articles and my website) that still exist rather than signs that are gone.  But in poking around for historic examples, I came across this wondrous sign that was installed in the 1950s in Times Square.  Not a damn thing has been written about it.  Even Tod at the American Sign Museum knows anything about it and couldn’t pull anything from his archives.  Not even my bud Thomas E. Rinaldi, author of New York Neon, has any info.

Nevertheless, I present to you:  the Johnnie Walker sign.  Perhaps the most mesmerizing mechanical sign ever built.  Okay, maybe a tie with Vegas Vic and his two clones. All I know is the “Striding Man” apparently had two iterations:  huge and huger.  The huger was by my estimate about 50 feet tall.  And his gigantic legs and arm moved.   The sign was moved a couple blocks at some point.  And according to one report, there was a similar sign in the 1950s in Miami.  If anyone knows anything else, please contact me.  I’m currently in love with this sign.  Big time.

Check out Johnnie walking in this video at the 6:24 (six minute, twenty four second) mark.  [you can use the scrollbar at the bottom of the video window to get to that point — or you can just sit back & enjoy the whole video]

Here’s Johnnie on the left (click on any photos at my blog for larger versions):

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And here’s a still from the video:

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I’m hoping there will be better weather at Xmas (my b’day) so I can get up to the Bay Area for some shooting.

Until then — happy holidays!

dj & the roadtrip-ready dogs

L.A. Area Trip / Day 2

Let’s start this weekend wrap-up in La Habra.  As a nearly vegan, you wouldn’t think I’d care so much about broasted chicken.  Well, I care about the statues and signs anyway.  I’ve got a bunch of the top-hatted statues at this page — about six rows down:
http://www.roadarch.com/critters/birdschick2.html

I’m guessing this place is from the 1960s:

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Also in La Habra.  Apparently, this sign is still lit at night — or at least it was in 2011:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/moviefan931/5795929634/

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This sign and hotel in Long Beach were restored earlier this year.  Here’s what the sign looked like last year:

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And now.  I prefer the old brown color myself.  It looks real nice at night though — although it wasn’t lit when I was there about a month ago:
http://longbeachseen.com/?p=3745

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Depressing news from Bellflower.  The Victory Drugs store is now known as Victory Home Medical Supplies.  The sign was transformed in stages.  Here’s what the sign (actually one of two identical signs on the building) looked like in 2012:

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Then earlier this year, the “Drugs” neon was removed and the letters were painted over.  Then, the entire sign disappeared for a bit and returned looking like this:

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Some happier news from Bellflower.  At least some things haven’t changed.  This was the fourth Chris & Pitts Bar-B-Q location built.  The only one I think with the faux log cabin look:

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The Lennox Car Wash in Lennox just got a bright new paint job.  Here’s what the place looked like last year:

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And this weekend:

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For more mid-century modern car washes like this one, I’ve got three pages of ’em here:
http://www.roadarch.com/modarch/carwash.html

 

I deserved a treat towards the end of the day after all that blazing sun.  Ice cream was not handy — but I’d always heard good things about the Apple Pan’s pies.  Priced at just over $6 a slice but well worth it.  The L.A. icon opened in 1947.

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You can watch the pies being baked through a window inside:

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I went with peach which seemed the summer-y thing to do.  It came with a generous amount real whipped cream on top.  I also got a slide of pecan for home which didn’t last the night.  Thumbs up to both.

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One more — a happy surprise in Santa Monica.  This photo is from last year:

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And from Sunday.  I believe the sign is lit but, in the past, it was dark when I was there.  Maybe the neon’s been tweaked along with the new paint.  I’ve seen lots of freestanding arrows and drips on signs — but can’t think of any others with bottles:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/25726169@N03/6862411772/

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I’m not sure when the next roadtrip will be.  It’ll most likely be back up to the Bay Area.  Right now, I’m going to hunker down and work on getting this big backlog of photos from Idaho and California up at my website.

If you want more L.A. area photos, I put a couple dozen from this weekend up at Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Til the next time —

dj

L.A. Area Trip / Day 1

Howdy!  I took a little trip out to the L.A. and Orange County area to shoot some things this weekend.  It was hotter than heck — mid 90s and more.  Happy to report that Sparkle took good care of the dogs and I with running the A/C for about 12 hours per day.  When I let the dogs out for brief pee breaks, they would stand stock still in disbelief at how hot it was outside.

I know you want to get to the sign photos — but here are a couple of other things to start with.

This giant pirate kitty stands in front of a house in Topanga.  I know it was at a local antiques shop for a number of years.  That’s all I know of its history.  I don’t know if the pirate get-up is a temporary or permanent thing.  It was dressed this way at the antiques shop:

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Wrong time of day to shoot this and that stoplight is annoying — but here it is.  A topiary Poodle in North Hills.  It’s been there for at least 20 years:

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Also from North Hills — love the building, name, font:

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The Bear Pit in Mission Hills has been here since 1954.  I love the little neon bits on the right.  Are they hearts or arrows?

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This one’s from Burbank.  This one has probably been retexted over the years.  But no matter.  You don’t see many pink-painted signs.   The company has a long list of motion picture credentials:
http://www.baronhats.com/index.php/about-us/history

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Most people shoot this one in Commerce from the passenger window of a moving car.  But I’m not so good at focusing out the passenger window while doing 70 mph on the interstate.  And my passengers don’t have hands to help me out.  So, you’re missing the “Co.” here since I was too wimpy to stand in the lane of the I-5 at midday:

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What a surprise!  This sign in Bell just got a makeover.  Here’s what it looked like earlier this year:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/33848170@N07/11952608693/

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Time out to plug the cause.  Please, please don’t buy puppies at pet stores or from breeders.  Lovely, wonderful, dogs & cats & other critters are waiting at shelters for homes.  Found on the streets or turned in for no good reason to shelters.  About five million dogs & cats are euthanized at shelters every year.  Sure, it’s a long-term commitment — plan on 20 years.  But 20 years of fun, adventures, love, learning — what better way to spend your time?  Much better company than people, if you ask me.  If you want to fall in love in a flash, your new BFF is right there waiting at Petfinder (where I found three of my dogs):
https://www.petfinder.com/

Also, Overstock.com recently started promoting pet adoptions as well:
https://pets.overstock.com/

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Back to your regularly scheduled programming.  The main reason for this weekend’s trip was to finally see some of the goodies in the MONA (Museum of Neon Art) collection and meet Kim Koga (the museum’s Director).  Every second Saturday night, there’s an Art Walk in Pomona — and the museum’s collection at the Pomona Packing Plant is open to visitors.  The museum will officially open in Glendale at the beginning of next year — but for now, this is the next best thing.

http://www.neonmona.org/
Here’s one of my favorites.  An animated horse racing sign with ripple tin panels.  Kim didn’t know where it came from — does anyone recognize it?

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Part of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre dragon sign which the museum will be restoring:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/grauman-s-chinese-theater-dragon-neon-sign-restoration

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A real “killer” of a sign.  This one came from Paramount Pest Control in Los Angeles.  The Doc Kilzum character was trademarked in 1938.  This sign is from the 1940s.  The museum will be restoring this sign as well.  “Doc” originally had striped pants and the mice were sequentially animated.  The painted over, missing mouse near Doc’s right shoe was lying on his back.  Paramount Pest Control still exists and uses this character:
http://www.paramountpestcontrol.com/

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This sign, currently missing the neon bells, was originally installed in Oakland.  This was just the top part of the enormous sign:
http://www.historicmapworks.com/Buildings/preview.php?img=Images/CA/CA2168-324065pr.jpg&m=157375

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The museum has two of these signs.  I have not seen them anywhere else although it would seem they must have been mass-produced:

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A new arrival — this Bear Manufacturing sign came from Santa Ana.  More about these “Happy Bear” signs one-third of the way down my page here:
http://www.roadarch.com/signs/ca14.html#Vodie

That shipping container behind the upper panel should give you a sense of scale:

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Here’s a photo I took of the sign last year when it was still in place.  The text under “Guero’s” read “Vodie’s Wheel Alignment” in 2008:

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Lastly, another happy save.  The museum recently acquired the Green Frog Market sign from Bakersfield.  Unfortunately, the neon was broken just before the museum received the sign.  It will be recreated:

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Here’s a photo I took of the sign when it was still in Bakersfield.  And, if you’re interested, more about the sign at my page about halfway down:
http://www.roadarch.com/signs/cabaker.html

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Sunday’s post coming up shortly.

dj

San Francisco Wrap-up

OK — last batch from this Labor Day Weekend trip.  All the photos are from San Francisco.  Heavy on signs — because I know that’s why you’re here!  It’s about time I subjected you to some doggie pix — maybe on the next roadtrip.

Let’s let them roll in slideshow fashion — no text really needed here:

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Another red one to go with the trio from my last post:

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Nice to see this former Fotomat being repurposed.  I don’t see the planter detail at either end so I suspect just the booth & roof were transplanted here.  For comparison, this blog post shows lots of examples of these buildings which show the planters fore and aft:
http://lostlaurel.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/fotomat/

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Here’s a nice oldie with a tin border.  The name is obviously missing from the top.  But I believe this has always been the Casa Loma Hotel.  The sign’s been cleaned up in recent years.  In 2007, it was looking pretty shabby:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sean94110/363645582/

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The Mayes Oyster House was established in 1867.  The sign has looked the same (except for all that steel crap around it) since at least 1953:
http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAB-2724.jpg

It is lovely at night as well:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/224028005/

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Two incredible signs at this place — in very rare black & white:

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This peach colored paint is probably not original — but it still looks nice.  Those heels hanging on the wire give you a sense of scale (wink).

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A trio of greatness packed in on the same corner.  I left some of those pretty windows in for scale.  Maybe 50 feet tall?

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A break from all that neon — comedy & tragedy.  I don’t know if this building was ever a theatre:

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Two more signs to close out this batch and trip:

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Another ridiculously gargantuan sign:

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I still have lots of San Francisco and East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, etc.) to shoot on another trip.  I don’t know when that will be just yet.  I’ll be making an L.A. area trip in a couple of weeks — so I’ll be back with more goodies soon enough.

In the meantime, I’ve got loads of photos from this trip over at Flickr (different from the ones posted here):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

And if you’ve got more time to kill, there’s always my website:
http://www.roadarch.com/

Take care,

Debra Jane

Day 2: Northward! (north of San Jose)

Sunday was another busy day with blue skies.  I got through all the stuff north of San Jose and moved on to San Francisco.  I have a feeling that nobody’s reading what I write much at these posts — so let’s just launch right into the photos since there’s lots of them.

Let’s start with this winner in Mountain View:

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This incredible vitrolite-faced storefront in Palo Alto is challenging to shoot with the trees blocking the sun:

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Preston’s Candies in Burlingame was established in 1943:

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Candy on the left, ice cream on the right:

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A well-preserved Heap Big Beef building in Millbrae:

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with the original sign frame and teepee poles poking out the top:

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This advertisement shows what the building & sign looked like originally.  I also have lots of other examples at my website towards the bottom of this page:
http://www.roadarch.com/eateries/aframe.html

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From San Bruno.  Yes, I shared one with the dogs (jelly) to show my support for this well-maintained sign.  To be honest, the donut was nothing special — but not bad either:

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From Daly City:

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A Daly City institution since the restaurant first opened in 1957.  It closed earlier this year and remains boarded up.  It will supposedly be renovated and reopened as part of the Original Joe’s chain:

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Moving on for the the remainder of this blog post to San Francisco:

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This place has lots going on for it:  [reminder:  clicking on the photos at my blog opens them to a larger photo]  the Last Supper, the crown-shaped roofline, and the glass block:

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The Beep’s Burgers sign was a lot nicer when it had neon.  But at least the rocket is still present.  Scroll down towards the bottom of this page for a 2002 photo:
http://www.outsidelands.org/streetwise-ocean-ave.php

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The walk-up stand at Beep’s:

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Disernia Drugs closed in 1998 but these signs remain.  There’s a BBQ restaurant in the space below now:

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There are probably twice as many vintage dark blue porcelain enamel signs as red ones.  I think readability was the reason.  Less common are the green ones and then there are a few other even rarer colors (browns, yellows, maybe others that aren’t coming to mind).  Anyway, here’s a nice trio of the red versions:

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Note the top panel on this one is a mismatched color — apparently, an add-on for a name change:

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A pretty stair-step effect:

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Some nighttime shots to close out this batch.  Some neon is out but that’s okay.  I like the patient Poodle in this shot, too:

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The neon’s out next to the “AS” — ah well.  A stunner in person with animated & sequentially lit letters:

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A pain-in-the-butt part of town to drive-in (downtown) with one way streets and deadends.  Thank goodness for the smartphone which really helped with the maze.  Not as bad as Boston but still far trickier than NYC:

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The Wok Shop in Chinatown was obviously a gift shop originally.  Glad they kept the neon bit:

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This devilish fellow is at the Original Joe’s:

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That’s a wrap for now.  More photos from today over at Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

I’ll get the final blog post from this weekend up tomorrow.

dj

 

San Jose Day

For the Labor Day 3-day weekend, the dogs and I made getaway trip up to Northern California.  After whizzing through my San Jose stuff, I moved on to the stuff north of there on Saturday.  On Day 3, despite my self-imposed 2 pm cutoff to beat the holiday traffic, I got through about half of the San Francisco stuff.  Rather than blogging & Flickring at night, I made the decision (for now? forever?), to focus on night neon shooting.  I got to bed as late as ever — just a different form of homework!  But as I’m prepping this sampling of photos, I realize I’m really racked up a huge quantity of stuff (about 700 photos for the website).  And thanks to the weather gods (full sun every day), lots of nice shots.  I hope you enjoy this assortment.  I’ll get the Day 1 batch up tonight — and then get the other two batches up later this week.

Before we dive in — a little bit of news about my website.  Firstly, I’ve got nearly all the Utah photos from this summer inserted now.  The only section left is the signs section which is a mess right now.  But it should be all tidy by the end of the weekend.  Then, I’ll start working on the Idaho photos.  The other news is that my site has sort of changed its name.  It is still officially http://www.RoadsideArchitecture.com — but the url prefix for pages & photos has changed from agilitynut.com to roadarch.com.  It was something that I’ve wanted to take care of for years and finally had the smarts & technology to do it.  It should be easier for you to type — and really made sense since I haven’t competed in agility for many years now.  But if you have saved pages to your Faves — or have hyperlinks at your blog to certain pages or photos — not to worry.  All the old urls bounce right to the same place with the new prefix.  My email address has changed, too.  You can reach me at roadarch@outlook.com.  But you don’t need to panic and changed your Contacts unless you’re worried about your spam blockers.  My old agilitynut email account still works and shares the same Inbox as the new address.

On with the show — sit back and/or grab a beverage — lots to share.  You can assume all the photos taken today were from San Jose unless I specify otherwise.

There are five of these vintage 7-Eleven trapezoid-shaped signs in the San Jose area that I know of.  I don’t know of any others like these anywhere in the country:

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The Elite Cleaners sign has been patched a bit but that arrows is pretty glorious.  Those applied plastic letters really suck, don’t they?  I don’t know if there was another cleaners — or an entirely different business — here when this 1950s looking sign was built.

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A sweet, under-appreciated plastic sign.  Probably 1960s or 1970s.  Such a cute carriage — and fun shaped sign panel frames.  Today’s signs are all about rectangles and no details like this:

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I don’t know if this Wright Lighting building is vintage or retro (recent in a vintage style).  I think it is the real deal.  Maybe not always painted so drably monotone?

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Dick’s Center was built in the 1950s.  The main tenant was Dick’s supermarket which is gone now.  Probably explains the painted over middle panel:

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I don’t know if this was ever neon or always backlit plastic.  Still classy and quaint:

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Right next to the Towne Square sign.  Love the underlying pink flat shoe:

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Plants from Mars.  My friend tells me that these are Asparagus Ferns:

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This neon appendage is attached to the plastic box sign of J.J.’s Blues Club (probably not the original name):

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Batten’s Art Florist — an abstract bouquet of bulbs:

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I stumbled upon a Wienermobile at a supermarket.   The Oscar Mayer guy there said that there are six of these Wienermobiles and that this is the biggest one.  I was asking about the interior and he described each section.  But he didn’t let me inside — which is what I was hoping for.  I should have been pushier.

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Classy old signs:  That rooftop sign is most likely from the 1920s or 1930s:

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I’ve never seen a neon Peterbilt trucks sign before.  Poking around at Flickr, it looks like there’s another one in Madison, WI.  But that might be the only other one:

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Bizarre wooden panel lettering, no?  Most likely, another name — or at least just standard painted finish originally:

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This giant cowboy sign has always been a mystery to me.  It loomed over a used car lot for many years.  I don’t know if that was his original business affiliation.    Service Rent-a Car occupies the lot now:

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A simple handpainted plywood sign — apparently, for a tarot card & palm reader.  It looks bigger in this photo but it’s only a couple feet in diameter:

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A mid-century modern Mervyn’s sign repurposed by Home Depot:

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Super Market — not so super now.  Vacant and an impressively huge empty parking lot:

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The 4th Street Bowl has a boring sign now — but there are some nice details inside.  Here’s the coffee shop:

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And a swell room divider and zigzag roofline:

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More zigzag outside (folded plate or sawtooth, if you prefer):

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Here’s the much loved and missed Andy’s Pet Shop sign which I shot back in 2008.  It survived being hit by a truck a few times.  But it could not survive the store’s relocation.  The city wouldn’t let them hang it up.  Not in code.  No, no, no.  But I was still happy to see it again.  In the boarding room with the cats and ferrets.  I don’t know if they saved the neon.  I sure hope the neon fishies are somewhere safe:

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Such a shame that this City Cleaners sign needs the plastic suit of armor.  Fed up with vandals, I suppose.  The plastic on the other side is completely opaque.

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How about a few neon night shots to end this post?  The Capri Motel in Santa Clara:

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This one is also in Santa Clara.  It’s odd how the arrows point one way on the porcelain enamel and the opposite way in neon:

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And lastly, from Millbrae.  The Millbrae Theatre was demolished in 1995 but the community fought to save the sign.  It’s now attached to a drab boxy building.  I believe the City pays for the upkeep of the sign:

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That’s it for tonight.  If you’re still hungry for more, I put 48 different photos up at Flickr tonight from this same day:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

And there will be more tomorrow.

dj

 

4th of July Trip: East Bay Area (Day 3 of 3!)

Here we go with the final post from this trip.  It was only a part-day-er because I had more than 300 miles of holiday traffic awaiting me for the journey home.

Let’s start in the megalopolis of Pinole.  One of my fave plastic signs from this trip:

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Also in Pinole:

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From Rodeo.  This sign has flaked into unreadability.  It used to say “Joseph’s Fishing Resort Tavern; 2 Blocks”:

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From El Sobrante.  I can think of only a few vintage signs with depictions of guns.  I can’t think of any with bullets:

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From San Pablo.  There’s at least one other Hambrick’s Giant Burgers (in Oakland, with a vintage equally great sign).  I believe they were part of the Giant Burgers chain in the Bay Area.  At least a couple of those remaining signs also feature the mention of “Home Made Pies”:

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The San Pablo building is special as well.  I’m not sure if those windows and dining area were always there.  The counter is more like a walk-up place:

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This one from Richmond.  I’ve seen Launderette signs — but never a Washette:

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Also in Richmond.  This is a secondary sign at The Spot bar.  The sign panels appear to have been that deep blue porcelain enamel.  I don’t know what caused them to fade to silver.  Inferior paint or processing?

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A couple of signs from Albany:

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This sign looks like it could have been installed yesterday — but it’s gotta be from the 1950s at least:

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On to Alameda which has loads of fun stuff to shoot in addition to its signs.  The panels have some streaking from rusting screws — but otherwise the color is as bright as the day it was installed.  At some point, someone with “ambition” will probably paint this sign and remove the neon — which will be a crime:

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From Pleasanton.  I’ve only seen Florsheim Shoe brand signs in green and brown.  This is the only one I know of that uses a scripty font:

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Last stop for this batch — in Fremont.  I passed a lot of Nation’s Giant Hamburgers locations this weekends.  Didn’t shoot them since they were too modern for me.  But this one was irresistible:

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That concludes the blogging for this roadtrip.  I still have a long list of stuff to shoot in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and the San Jose area.  But for now, I’m going to hunker down and work on adding photos to the website.  And let my credit card cool off.  The next Bay Area trip will be maybe at the end of August.  There will be at least one L.A. area trip before that so I’ll be posting again soon enough.

Until then… have a great summer!

Oh, and don’t forget, there’s lots of new photos over at Flickr from this trip:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

dj & the dogs

 

4th of July Trip: East Bay Area (Day 2)

On Saturday, I moved on to the East Bay (east of San Francisco) area.

Let’s start with this nice terrazzo entry in Vallejo.  The store that’s there now has nothing to do with whatever this was.  Discount store?  Supermarket?

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Moving on to Pacheco.  Surely, the sign panels’ were a brighter & cheery-er color originally.  This sign is lovely at night — must get back there sometime:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/hueyward/4488686067/

Tubing shadows usually improve a photo — but this might be a bit much.  Or at least it was on that white paint:

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There are about a dozen Caspers Hot Dogs in the Bay Area.  There are a couple of buildings & signs from the 1940s like this one in downtown Hayward:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14599087761/

There are about four of this design from the 1960s.  This one is also in Hayward:

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The interiors are all pretty well-preserved.  Note the globe lamps, the orange, yellow & red stools, and the clock.  All original:

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This one is at the Usher Inn in San Leandro.  One of the prettiest martini signs I’ve ever seen:

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This shopping center sign in San Leandro was restored last year and I was all excited to see it in person.  But really, shouldn’t restoration also involve cutting back trees or removing them?  I’m all for trees but what idiot thought these belonged less than a foot away from this sign?  I’m assuming the sign was here first:

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San Leandro is chock full of vintage signs.  Here are a few more:

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Sadly, the arrow wasn’t working at night on this one:

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Just the darned cutest drive-in maybe ever.

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Yes.  Polka dots.  And twin drive-thru lanes:

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The “fifth wheel” is a reference to that coupling where big rigs are hooked up to their trailers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_wheel_coupling

That connection looks like this lovely piece of freestanding neon:

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The only other sign depiction of a fifth wheel that I know of is this one in Detroit which I shot on a crappy weather day:

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This sign is in Oakland.  I’ve got loads to shoot in Oakland — but that will be on a later trip:

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Moving on to Alameda:

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Let’s hope this one is never restored.  Or at least not until every last speck of paint falls off:

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How about a few night shots?  The rest of these signs are from Albany.  There are a few of these Pic N Pac liquor stores in the area.  This is the nicer sign:

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This is now the Safeway Pharmacy (an updated sign below this detail).  There must have been a name above the Rx originally.  There are two or three balls at the top of this mortar and pestle sign which would have been animated.  You can just barely make them out here:

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The glorious Ivy Room:

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OK — one more day & post to go.  I’ll try to get that one up tomorrow.

dj

 

4th of July Trip: Sacramento & East Bay (Day 1)

Okay — let’s dive right into Friday which was all about Sacramento and thereabouts.

This sign originally advertised for the Ramona Hotel:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/87981392/

It looks like Scientology placed a panel over the holes where the letters had been.  Just maybe the letters were saved?  And maybe someday, if a new owner comes along that is more historic-minded, the letters could be replaced.  Here’s hoping.

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Check out that lovely tin border.  This has to be one of the oldest signs in town:

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This is the Hotel Marshall’s “lesser” sign — tucked around the corner of the building & mounted high on the building.  Here’s the prettier sign from my Flickr account:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

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I’m thinking this sign is probably half of what was a projecting sign on the building:

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which was at some point replaced with this sign.   Quite a nice graphic for a plastic sign:

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Both signs are lit at night:

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This diamond ring clock sign was restored in 2012:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/centerforsacramentohistory/7166722592/

Unfortunately, its “buddy sign” was painted over before that:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/25552182/

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That red porcelain enamel is as bright as the day it was installed some sixty-plus years ago.  That little “Pfaff” panel appears to be covering up the original business name.  [P.S. all my blog photos are clickable — clicking on them opens to a larger size]

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I was happy to see the Jim-Denny’s sign on during the day — even though they were closed and it was the 4th of July.  But when I came back in the early evening, the sign was off:

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This sign is from the former Sam’s Hof Brau, later Hamburger Pattie’s, soon to be something else (busy construction going on below — even on the 4th).  This sign gets less attention than the wonderful chef sign — from my Flickr stream, taken the same day:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14412964309/

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This was originally the Arden Motel sign:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tspauld/28673119/

Now the Greens Hotel.  I’ll let you judge the re-use.  Better than being trashed, of course:

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The Cardinal Lanes.  Closed since forever:

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I love how the sign mimics the building’s arches:

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This building in Rancho Cordova is a mystery to me (what was here originally).  There are other Tugboat locations in the area with buildings that look nothing like this.

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Also in Rancho Cordova.  If you like giant paint can signs half as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this page at my website:
http://www.agilitynut.com/mim/paint.html

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A pretty plastic rooftop sign in Placerville:

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Also in Placerville.  This is the motel’s very tall pole sign.  They also have this one by the road:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14413137619/

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Back in Sacramento for the rest of this post.   Fun sign and building:
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I was happy to see Gunther’s was packed.  It was in the 90s that day.  Lots of fireworks in the middle of the streets in this neighborhood that you had to drive around.  Fun but scary at the same time.  I posted a close-up of the Gunther’s sign and a quickie video of the animation here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/14413137889/

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This was previously the Town House bar — the signs were nicer then — but this replacement is far better than what usually happens.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/therealdevildoll/749616002/

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That’s a wrap for Friday.  Still two more days and blog posts to come.

 

dj