Day 6: Moving on to Louisiana

I’ve spent a lot of time in Louisiana in the past few years, and years before that, but I still find out about new things to shoot and have things that need reshooting. I still didn’t have enough time on this trip to get everything with two pressing engagements (a “passenger” to pick up in Oklahoma and getting my butt to Florida to focus on my list for that state). Another time for the rest of the Louisiana list.

Let’s start out in Crowley. Unfortunately the Rice Theatre sign has been “upgraded” from neon to backlit plastic letters and cheapo LED tubing. The paint on the building could really use some help:


In Baton Rouge — a rare McDonald’s sign. Not as old as the neon Speedee arch signs but, hey.

Another photo from Baton Rouge — an abandoned Cadillac dealership sign:

From Lake Charles: this adapted and adopted sign. My photo from 2018 when the building had been gone for at least ten years and the sign stood night to a concrete slab lot. Already “BURGER” was covering something up – maybe “STEAK”?

Last year, the sign was moved downtown where for a new music venue — and the little “MUSIC” panel was attached – my photo from July:

However, just a month later, Hurricane Laura destroyed the sign and the building (note bricks on the ground). The KSL NewsRadio website shows the photo below. The business’ website says they will rebuild. Maybe they will replicate the panels — maybe the one against the building is okay?

Moving on to New Orleans. This guy points the way to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gra World:


This sign is much hidden in the trees:


Minus the neon and at least one change in pastors (updated like most church signs):

No sun but I tried. Crazy external wiring:

Pretty sure this is a replica sign. Still fun and carnival-like:

Let’s end with this faded beauty in Metairie. In my imagination, the bulbs either flashed or were lit in sequence:

Back next weekend with more.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Day 5: Another Day in Texas

I really did get a lot of Texas stops in on this trip. Just as well since FL, GA & AL were pretty much a bust with rain and clouds just a few days later.

Let’s start with Waco. A nice rusty, crusty furniture store sign. The building has been converted into lofts but the left the sign alone:

The Waco Printing sign was probably built in the 1950s. My photo below is from 2011:

In 2018, the sign’s neon was removed and the panel was covered up with a “for rent” sign. And then, this transformation took place earlier this year. I hope someone saved the porcelain panels and that they weren’t just painted over. Maybe they are still safe underneath? Those chintzy bulbs strung around the outside are an embarrassment:


This sign in Waco at Kim’s Drive-in is from 1963 — my photo from 2011:

New owners restored the sign in 2014. I wish they’d kept the original corrugated plastic “Hamburgers” panel but at least the Malt cup is still there and the overall sign looks great:

Moving on to Houston. Up until last year, the lettering on the neon sign was “Adolpf Hoepfl”. My photo from 2018 of the 1946-ish projecting sign:

And from this summer’s trip, a new slightly mismatched panel for “Liberty Hoepfl”. The rebranding was based on the decision to turn their waiting room into a little “Texas Liberty” museum and patriotic space:

I’m glad they didn’t mess with the pole sign which is probably from the 1960s:

Also in Houston, here’s a Twistee Treat. There are very few of these in Texas and most are the modern variety like this. One clue that it’s a modern one is the thin little stuck-on counters below the windows. The counters on the vintage buildings are part of the fiberglass body. More about these buildings at my website starting with this page: https://www.roadarch.com/food/twistee.html

Turning to Baytown, the Brunson Theatre closed in the mid-1980s and was gutted before being sold to the City. There were plans to convert the building into a performing arts center. My photo from 2011:

In 2019, the original neon blade sign with porcelain enamel panels shown above was replaced with this thing. Backlit plastic letters and dinky little bulbs. But at least the font style is the same. The readerboards replaced with digital display board. Very unfortunate and jarring next to the nice (thank god intact) Art Deco relief panels. The performing arts center didn’t happen. The building is used as a visitors center and business space. Well, maybe but unlikely, 20-40 years from now a PAC will happen and a better sign can be built.

This vintage photo from cinematreasures.org shows that there WAS a sputnik-thing on top of the sign but it looks like the circles were more ribbon-y than round like they are now:

Last stop for this post is in Hearne. This still operating drug store has intact signs, apparently from the 1960s:

The earlier 1950s-ish sign hangs over the back entrance:

Moving on to Louisiana in the next post which will probably be next weekend.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Day 4: More Texas

This day was spent mostly in the Dallas area. After this post, there will be one more full day in Texas before we skedaddle off to Louisiana.

Let’s start with this sign topper at the Plaza Theatre in Garland. The sign was restored a few years ago. I’m assuming that the neon on top used to flash sequentially around ball. It’s unlikely that it does any more since most cities forbid any movement (except for hideous graphic display boards, for some crazy reason):

Moving on… the rest of this post is from Dallas:


Love the Mondian-esque sign, right? But also note the swirly, crazy tile on the building:

This was originally a parking sign. When the parking garage was demolished, this chunk of the sign was saved and installed in the new park that replaced it.

Surely, the top panel must be a crappy replacement but the bottom panel is still nice:

Lots to admire here:


And one pretty one to end this post — still in operation:


Be back with another post in about a week. I have lots of stuff from this day to add to the website in the meantime. I also uploaded some different photos from this day over at Flickr just a few minutes ago if you are hungry for more:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Day 3: More Texas

Most of the day was spent in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I started the day in Cisco with just enough light to get this one. Ripple tin panels — no idea what the bottom panel is covering up but I’m glad they left alone the upper part:


This one in Fort Worth. The top doesn’t look right — gaps and doesn’t match the color of the panel below. It must have been adapted at some point, right? The cute bulb arrow must have been added later, for emphasis:


Also in Fort Worth, the building is a nice subtle Art Deco and, more importantly, the business is still open. It’s debatable if this sign should be restored – patina-lovers would say definitely not!


Another one in Fort Worth — awesome but I wish I had a wee bit more sun. I waited, believe me….


This rooftop sign in McKinney was taken at the end of the day where I had to shoot directly into the sun and then Photoshop the heck out of the photo to make it decent-ish. This sign is brand new in a vintage style.


This shoe sign in Denton has had some unfortunate changes since my 2011 photo:

And from August — the neon outline is gone, replaced with little LED crap around the edge of the sign. The nice, human-painted script replaced with dull block letters. And the paint — well, either paint the whole damned shoe or leave it alone if you can’t match the color!


I’m a huge fan of the All Storage giant boxes. The one below in Fort Worth is the one that started them all. It was built in 2014:

There are now at least three other locations with giant boxes: two in Fort Worth and one in Plano. This one is in FW:


That’s a wrap — back with Day 4 probably this weekend.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 2: Western TX

I got some Texas stops in as we headed ever eastward towards Florida. But the weather was pretty crappy (clouds) and there was some giant accident on I-20 in the middle of nowhere that had us at a standstill for hours. There will be a lot more Texas later in the trip since I had a detour to pick up a “passenger” in Oklahoma.

I’ll have to return to Sweetwater sometime to get this Masonic sign in the sun. What about those wires? I even PhotoShopped a few out:

A ratty looking (but still wonderful) former Whataburger a-frame in Abilene. I’ve got loads more at my website here:
https://www.roadarch.com/eateries/aframewhata.html

Abilene also has a former Burger Chef which I shot but it’s not worth sharing here (it will go to the website) because it’s pretty much unrecognizable. But what makes this location special is the sign — pretty ugly & painted over:

but it still has that chef piece on top – very, very rare – but I don’t know if there’s enough paint left on either side to ever be restored:

The sun was out in El Paso so I’ll add a couple photos from there. There are still many Arby’s hat signs out there but will be rare enough soon. The chain’s plastic signs are just so hideous, aren’t they? If you’d like to see a long list of the surviving hats (and ever rarer, covered wagon buildings), I’ve got a bunch here:
https://www.roadarch.com/eateries/arbys.html

The smaller American Furniture sign on the side of the building:

Fashion Cleaners in Midland has two signs — wish the sun was out to do them justice:

These magnificent mushroom canopies in Midland were built for Gool Office Machines. The lot has housed numerous used car dealerships since then.

This surprise discovery was tucked inside the Hotel Wooten parking garage in downtown Abilene. Turns out, it only went by this name for a short while. According to Wikipedia: “For several years, the Wooten was rechristened ‘The Abilene Towers Apartments.’ It became notorious for the chunks of masonry and debris that would often rain down on unsuspecting pedestrians below as it crumbled beneath the west Texas sun.”

If you look at the blue part of the panel, you can make out ghost letters for “HOTEL.” If you stare long enough at the red part, you can sort of make out or imagine “WOOTEN.” The sign is now mounted on a wall but it was obviously a projecting sign originally:

Let’s end this post on with a sunny shot — this one in Sierra Blanca. You can see that wonderful ripple tin (lighter than steel’ the crimping strengthens it and holds paint better):

I’m off to add photos to my website — back next weekend-ish with another post. If you are new to my blog, I also add different photos to Flickr simultaneously when I’m working on these posts:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Summer Trip: Day 1 in Arizona

Here we go!!! I am back from my 35-day trip to Florida and ready to start banging away on all the photos. I’ve got about 4,000 photos to add to my website, despite the rain and other setbacks. Here at the blog, I’ll be posting a little sampling of photos for each day. At the same time, I’m posting some different photos over at Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

I’ll be adding each day’s batch (about 100 photos) to my website as I go. So, this whole process will take many, many months. I hope you enjoy tagging along.

The first stop on this mega-trip was in Buckeye to see Hobo Joe who took about three years to restore and, boy, did they do a terrific job. For more about this guy and what he looked like before this, see my website here:
https://www.roadarch.com/giants/az.html

I finally found out where the Hoop Dancer sign in Tucson was located & got some photos of him. The panels are ripple tin and in great shape. Heather David’s got a nice vintage postcard for context: https://www.flickr.com/photos/14696209@N02/48924229068/

I stopped by the Ignite Sign Art Museum to see what’s new. This one was recently restored. Jude dug through multiple layers of paint with different wording to discover the original name. An amazing project!

Here’s the Grant-Stone sign before it was removed in 2014. It’s safely stored at the museum until, maybe, another location can be found for it.


Here’s a nice oldie at the museum with painted metal panels. For whatever reason, there were very, very few porcelain enamel signs built in Tucson:

And here’s a nice backlit opal letter. I’m crazy about those and have a couple of pages at my website about them with lots of examples:
https://www.roadarch.com/sca/opal.html


Let’s go back to the streets for one more from Tucson — from the long-closed Wee-Went-Wong’s (surely, that can’t be the original name, right?):

More to come in a week or so, after I get Day 1’s photos up at my website.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

San Diego Mini Trip

I snuck out from the COVID stay-at-home order for a little Los Angeles area daytrip last weekend and a San Diego area daytrip this past weekend.  It was great to get outta the house for a bit and take some pictures!  Still, yes, wearing mask and social distancing front of mind.  The dogs were happy to smell new smells, run in new places, and bark their heads off.  I also just missed getting stuck in traffic with all the protesters and rioting.

I’ve already got both days’ photos loaded up at my website but I’ll share a few photos here as well.

Let’s start with Harbor Liquors in Oceanside with it’s little lighthouse sign addition.  There’s also a nice rocky facade and a curvy roofline:

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In National City, this one missing its neon and a cover-up panel (maybe “Homemade” under that?)

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Crappy sun early in the day in San Diego — another one goes on my “reshoot” list.

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This one is strung from one side of the street to the other in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego.  It’s actually replica sign from 2010 of the 1953 original.

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“The Spirit of Imperial Beach” (yes, in Imperial Beach):

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This giant lion statue was being restored and the sun was all wrong when I was there.  Installed at the San Diego Zoo in 2018.  But something was up with the patina.  And maybe they were bored with everything shut-down from COVID.  This statue has a huge concrete substructure which give it that gravity-defying pose:

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This sign borrows the design from the incredible Jimmy Wong’s Golden Dragon sign in town.  It was the Chinatown Bar & Grill but it’s now the Brooklyn Bar & Grill.  The sign went up around 2018:

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Also San Diego — some gravity-defying neon tubing below:

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OK — that’s enough for now.  If you’re hungry for more, I have other photos from this little trip over at Instagram and Flickr, and, of course,  my website scattered throughout various sections.

I’m going to sneak off on a little Northern CA trip soon.  But as for my month-long vacation to The South, that’ll just have to wait awhile until the danger has passed.  Hopefully, not until next year!

Hang in there folks — we’ll get through all this.

Debra Jane & the dogs

SoCal Mini Trip

I got out of town for little shooting down in the L.A. area to take advantage of last week’s three-day holiday weekend.  I’ve caught up with my winter projects and have the big June trip all planned out.  It’s so great to be shooting again!  I’ve already added those photos to my website but I have some “leftover” signs for this blog post.  If you didn’t know, most of things that I post to my blog never get the prestige status of inclusion at my website.  Instead of three separate posts (usually, I do one post per day’s shooting), I’ll just give you one big whammy this time.

Let’s start with this sign in North Hollywood:

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This one hangs on in L.A. although the market is gone:

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This Elks Lodge sign is in Arcadia.  The text panel must be porcelain under the paint and, surely, it had neon originally:

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Here’s a three-fer from L.A.  Be prepared to be chased off if you want to shoot the canopy sign (last photo):

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Some nice freestanding letters in Manhattan Beach:

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Also in Manhattan Beach: a super cute plastic sign detail from the “Whale of a Wash” laundromat sign:

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A two-fer from Commerce:

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A fun sign in South Gate — surely that atomic thingie on top must have (maybe still does?) flashed in 3-part animation:

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I love the crusty rust on this one at a liquor store in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of L.A.  The neon tubing sure looks intact:

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In Highland Park.  One of the best arrows ever, right?  The letters were originally neon and the “Highland Park” bit is a later add-on.  Here’s a vintage photo of when the sign was blue and much prettier:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/58823123/

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I don’t know what this sign in San Bernardino advertised for originally.  It was painted blue for another thrift store back in 2007:

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This star is installed on top of the Downtown Motel 7 sign in San Bernardino.  The rest of the sign is not worth including, believe me.

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A (mostly) surviving Color Tile sign in Bellflower.  These guys are getting super rare:

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Here’s an example of one that I shot in Yakima, WA in 2008.  By 2012, the business was gone and so were all of the signs:

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A small shopping center sign in Azusa that pays tribute to the mountains of the Angeles National Forest in the distance:

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A neglected arrow sign in Gardena installed on the roof of a tire shop:

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An empty frame at a liquor store in Compton.  More than likely, each square spelled out “L-I-Q-U-O-R” with the bottom rectangle used for something else (beer? wine? biz name? hours?):

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Another liquor sign — this one with quadruple stroke neon at Friendly Liquor in Gardena:

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A really big, mysterious arch over this discount store in South Gate.  In 2007, it was white; then it was yellow and then white again; and red since 2019.  Note how the arch continues down to the ground on the left.

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I made it out to the desert to shoot some things.  One of the places on my list was this little private collection in Joshua Tree.   The property functions as “Bungalow in the Boulders”, a bed & breakfast.  There’s also a bottle house there.  Here are some of the signs:

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Two more signs for this post.  This is a new one from 2016 in downtown L.A.  The Piano Lofts building once housed the Story & Clark piano factory:

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And here’s the McDonald’s sign from 1959 in Downey getting some TLC by the sign company.  This photo makes you appreciate just how big Speedee really is:

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I ran out of time and sun last weekend. So, I might head down to finish up next Saturday.  I’ve also got some San Diego Area, Bay Area,  and Vegas Area trips planned.  I want to make sure that Sparkle is running as perfect as can be before the big summer trip in June.  So, lots more photos & posts soon.  In the meantime, you might enjoy my Instagram and Flickr posts.  Of course, the real deal is the website:  my life’s focus for the past 20 years.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Website Updating — Done! O thru W

Here it is:  the final installment of a gruesome and grueling project.  So much loss in the past couple of years.  I know it’s devastating but  I’m hoping it will be a motivator for everybody to get out on the road while we still have things to see and shoot.  Don’t forget to give a wave & a thumbs-up as you are out there shooting the sign/building/statue or go inside and to tell the business owner how much you love – REALLY REALLY LOVE — their sign/bldg/statue.  Count the ways of how it stands out among all the dreck, how beautiful it is, and how it is huge attention-getter for  potential customers, how important it is to the community as history and art, while a personal marker for locals and an attraction for tourists.  I know, I’m preaching to the choir.  But if you could just gush a lot to whoever is manning the register inside and/or the manager, I KNOW that it really does make a difference.

Enough of my lecture.  Let’s move on to some more bad news, shall we?

Starting in Ohio.  In Lorain, OH, this sign is gone:


This one in Cincinnati, OH — gone:

As for Oregon, this one in Baker City, OR — gone


In Pennsylvania — this revolving M&Z Carpet sign in Harrisburg, PA


has been updated with backlit plastic letters.  The neon borders also gone:

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From the Rexall Signs section: these signs in Idaho Falls, ID are gone:

only the little plastic Rexall panel on the far left remains:

These signs in Chicago, IL are also gone:

 

In Reese, MI — also gone:

In South Carolina, this beauty in Orangeburg is gone:

 

As for South Dakota, this one in Aberdeen is gone:

 

In Tennessee, this one in Nashville is gone:


A bunch of signs in Texas have disappeared — the heaviest hit city was El Paso.
The Gran Mercado sign:


and these:

 

This one…

… has been painted over in this mess:

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In Houston, TX, this one is gone:

In Austin, TX, this one on Lamar is gone (the identical sign on Guadelupe is still there):

 

This one in San Marcos, TX.

… has been replaced with this:

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As for Utah, this one in Blanding has been replaced with a boring plastic box:

 

In Washington, this one in Anacortes is gone:

 

This one in Grandview, WA is gone:

The neon and hand painted mountains on this sign in Sedro-Woolley, WA….

… has been replaced with backlit plastic letters and peaks:

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The Elephant Car Wash in Tacoma, WA closed and was replaced with another car wash.  This sign …


…was altered/repainted like this:

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The surviving Elephant Car Wash signs are at my website here:
http://www.roadarch.com/signs/waseattle2.html#Elephant

 
In Ephrata, WA, this sign’s neon text has been removed and the panels covered up with other panels for another business.  Luckily, they left the dragon alone:

 

In Fife, WA, this sign disappeared due to major roadwork next to it.   When I spoke with the desk clerk, he wasn’t sure if the sign would be reinstalled or if something new would replace it:

 

In West Virginia, this one in Charleston is gone now:

And lastly, from Wisconsin, this one in Lander is, you got it, gone:

 

So, that’s that.  My website is as current as can be with all 72,000 or so external links checked, countless Google Streetview maps checked.  Not a fun task but necessary and never finished.  I predict next winter’s posts will be just as heartbreaking.  But, on the bright side, there are miraculously thousands of other signs still in place, as well as thousands of statues and buildings sure to amaze and make you smile.  Have a look at your favorite sections or use that search box below the yellow bar on the top left at any page to look for cities, biz names, etc.  Favorite “roadarch.com” so you can plan your future adventures.

That’s just what I’m about to do!  I keep huge lists for every state of things that I want to shoot and reshoot.  I’ll be doing a few roadtrips here in California in the next few months to test out my van, camera, laptop, and aging body before embarking on the big 5-week trip to the Southeast in June.  The next posts will be much more cheerful as I document things that still exist and things that you’ll want to add to your own to-shoot lists.

Happy trails and happy 2020!
dj & the dogs

 

Website Updating Homestretch: K thru N

I’ve got a whole bunch of news for you since I am happy (relieved!) to report that I’m done with this winter project and I can get on with happier things.  To avoid the world’s longest post, I’m going to split this into two (still fairly huge) posts.  The last section of this mega-website-task was Signs.  I present the most noteworthy news for the states beginning with “K”.  Get a stiff drink — it’s going to be painful.

Let’s start in Louisville, KY where the KDC sign…

… which has been covered up with crappy panels that kinda/sorta (barely) mimic the design underneath:

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Moving on to Michigan.  This sign in Grand Rapids, MI is gone now:

 

Also gone — in Richmond, MI:

 

This sign in Saginaw, MI…

was reworked by 2011 but the really nice AMF panel remained:

The sign is now nothing but the two pole stumps.

Some good news from Christmas, MI.  This sign….

… has recently been repainted (or maybe replicated):

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A bunch of signs in Minnesota are gone now including this one in Austin, MN:

These two (the “turn here” and the one in front of the motel itself) in Deer River, MN — gone:

 

This beauty in Elk River, MN – gone:


This one in Grand Rapids, MN

was replaced with this thing:

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This one in Maplewood, MN:
[check out how gorgeous it was at night here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8394561@N02/5331029635/

has been stripped:

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This one in Ely, MN — was “picked” by American Pickers.  Their gleeful video at FB made me sick to my stomach and furious.  It’s one thing bargaining with old collectors for their motorcycle parts that have been gathering dust in barns for decades but quite another thing grabbing history and art from communities that have practically nothing to offer tourists and locals.  I bet you they couldn’t ditch the corrugated plastic panel fast enough.

 

The one in Sebeka, MN

… has been destroyed with backlit plastic letters:

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Moving on to Missouri.  This one in Cape Girardeau, MO is gone:

 

This one at a plumbing business in Chillicothe, MO — gone:

 

This one in St. Joseph, MO — yep, gone.  Note the wonderful two-phase arrow at the bottom:

 

In St. Louis, MO — gone:


This one in Raytown, MO — gone:

 

This Vickers gas station sign in Independence, MO — gone:

 

Also in Independence, MO, this beautiful sign…

…has been brutally altered.  The neon removed and bottom panels painted over:

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Moving on to New Mexico.  This one in Carlsbad, NM is gone:

This one in Espanola, NM… gone:

 

This one in Farmington, NM — uh huh, gone:

 

This sign in Hobbs, NM

is missing a major chunk now:

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This one in Ruidoso, NM — gone:


In Raton, NM, this sign is gone (a Travelodge there now):

 

In Albuquerque, NM, the Master Cleaners is gone and so is this guy:

 

Moving on to Nevada.  This sign in Jean, NV...

… has been adapted.  Google doesn’t have a good shot but the letter bulbs are gone – replaced with either neon or LED.  I think the borders are just painted.

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Reno, NV took a heavy hit this past year and last.  There are dirty sandy lots all over town — soon to be horrible modern towers.  I think some or all of these signs are stashed in developers hands for now.  There has been some talk in news articles of displaying them in town somewhere but it’s pretty vague and might be just to keep people quiet long enough that they’ll forget about their loss.

 

As for Las Vegas, NV, a bit of good news:  The Golden Goose Casino under the Fremont canopy is gone but the statue was saved, restored and is now spinning at Fremont & 10th.  I promise this video will cheer you up:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HporsCpadmw

The baseball player statue from the Vegas Club & Casino was removed at the same time as the goose.  I believe he’s still in storage for now:

 

Only one sign to report from New York.  This sign from Watkins Glen, NY was auctioned off when the restaurant closed.  It’s now in a private collection:

 

Lastly, from the “N”s and my “Norge Ball” section.  This one in Louisville, KY is gone now:

 

The Norge Ball in San Mateo, CA

… has been replaced with this round but flat thing:
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So, that’s quite enough.  I’ll be back later tonight with the final post of this series.  I know you can hardly wait.

dj & the dogs