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

 

 

4th of July Trip: Sacramento & East Bay

Up and back and recuperating from myself (ha!) and the holiday traffic.  I had terrific sun each day and shot neon signs all three nights as well.  I have more than 600 photos for the website (on top of backlog from the recent Idaho/Utah/Nevada trip).   I’ll post a few dozen photos here and at Flickr in the next couple of days.

On the way up to the Sacramento area on Thursday night, I stopped off in Bakersfield for a little nighttime shooting.

The Andre’s Drive-in sign on Brundage is barely lit at all these days.   The text is out and the burger on the other side is only lit at the bottom.  There is a second location in town but I don’t think that sign is lit at all.

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I wasn’t there early enough to catch the silhouette of the tower above:

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Unfortunately, some of the letters were out on the taller sign at Zingo’s so I couldn’t bring myself to shoot that one.  This one is awfully nice though.  The bulb arrows flash:

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One of the best signs in town — and nicely maintained:

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I took a video to show you the animation of the cat:

 

This sign is in Walnut Grove:

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I’ll be back with lots more stuff soon.

dj

 

 

Happy 4th!

The dogs and I are off on a 3-day weekend to the Sacramento & East Bay area.  I probably won’t blog about it until I get home since I’ll be shooting neon into the wee hours each night.  And then, there’ll be a very long drive home — made even longer with holiday traffic.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this most wonderful video of my talented “kids”.  The sound went a little haywire during the uploading & doesn’t quite mesh, repeats in odd places… but whatever.

 

Have a great holiday weekend!

dj & the dogs

Day 13: California Stuff & the Roadtrip Wrap-up

OK — we’re finally here!  The final post for this trip.  Before I proceed with this batch of photos, here’s the math that a lot of you like to know.  I took more than 2,000 photos during these 13 days.  The majority of them will eventually be added to my website (RoadsideArchitecture.com).

I logged about 6,026 miles on this trip.  Sparkle now has about 378,000 miles on her and didn’t so much as sneeze on this trip despite the daily pounding.  I covered most of Utah, Nevada, half of Idaho and a couple of days worth of Northern California.  I’m still exhausted!  I spent $1,508 on gas and got two oil changes.  I don’t keep track of food or hotel costs.  Let’s just say I’ll be paying for this trip for many months.

On with a sampling of the photos from the final day of the trip.  This hay bale tractor was in Dixon:

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From Vacaville:

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Lost in the trees below is what I think is an abstracted spur:

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From Vallejo.  Next to impossible to shoot this one well since the property is surrounded by chain link:

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Also in Vallejo:

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From Pittsburg:

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A couple of signs from Rio Vista:

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And, finally, last photo for the day from Pleasanton:

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I hope you enjoyed tagging along on this trip.  If you’d like to throw a few bucks my way to help pay for it, you can donate to my email address (agilitynut@hotmail.com) at:  Paypal.com/

This will be the big blow-out trip for the year.  I’m thinking of doing an Oregon & Washington trip around this time next year.  In the meantime, I’ll be blogging & Flickring some weekend trips here and there.  There’s a 4th of July, three-day weekend coming up.  So, the dogs and I will probably be doing a Sacramento or San Francisco area trip then.  In the meantime, I’ve got loads of photos from this trip waiting for you over at my Flickr account:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/
Happy trails!

Debra Jane & the dogs (Fix, Sputnik, Gremlin & Griswold)
RoadsideArchitecture.com

 

Day 12: Back in Cal-i-for-ni-ay

After a few more stops in Reno in the morning and then it was over to Lake Tahoe.  I did find a beach there to run the dogs.  Actually, it was more walking and sniffing since it was mostly rocks.  Nik and Grem got some swimming in but the water was way too cold.  They were shivering in the van for a really long time afterwards even though I wrapped them in towels.  It takes a lot for Fix & Griz to get in the water so they didn’t have to suffer.

This covered wagon building has me stumped.  It’s near the Magic Carpet Golf in South Lake Tahoe — but not close enough to be related.  Size-wise, it makes the most sense as a snack bar of some kind:

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From Kings Beach.  This sign has a textured white plastic background that I haven’t seen before:

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More from Kings Beach.  Love the house shaped sign & the female diver:

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Plastic signs are so under-rated:

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From Tahoe Vista:

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Leaving Lake Tahoe now — a couple of signs from Truckee:

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Now a pottery store below — glad they let the sign stay & didn’t fuss with it:

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This building in Grass Valley appears to be tweaked Art Deco / Streamline Moderne.  I can’t find anything about it on-line:

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From Penryn:

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Rather than shoot this sign in Rocklin from the freeway, I took the time to toodle around in the mobile home park until I found it.  Due to the proximity to one of the homes, I could only get this angle though:

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From Roseville.  I believe this was originally a Lincoln-Mercury dealership.  The top panel used to revolve and now just blows a bit in the wind.  The backside of that top panel also reads “CARS” and is painted white:

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One more photo — this one also from Roseville.  This place opened in 1953 and apparently this sign is from then.  You can see the plugged neon holes but it’s still a clean sign.  And still in business:

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OK — let me go cook up the final post from this trip now.

dj