More Website Updates

I’m working away on the sections looking for any broken links to external websites and checking the most recent maps in my descriptions. There was nothing noteworthy in the Drive-in Theatres section. The remaining signs and screen towers all seem to be in place. Here are some updates to the Tire Stores section.

This former Firestone in San Jose, CA with nice mid-century modern details like the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and multi-colored square tiles was demolished in 2019:

Some good news! The Firestone building in downtown Los Angeles, CA was vacant for a few years but now after some sensitive adapting, it’s reopened as a brewery and taco place. Here’s a photo I took in 2016 when it was fenced off:

It’s current look from the L.A. Eater article…
… the porcelain enamel panels, the neon sign, the freestanding letter signs, and the Art Deco canopy — all still there:

Another redevelopment going on at this Firestone in El Paso, TX. Here’s one of my photos from 2017:

The building is from 1929 and Firestone moved into it in 2001. Firestone left around 2015 and another tire shop (GCR) moved in. From Google Street View in 2020 — with the fencing around the building:

The building is currently being adapted for office space. The rooftop neon sign will stay and be “refurbished.” As we all know, the definition of that word can mean many things.


Finally, some signs! From the SCA section. I’ve been writing the features and news columns about signs for the Society for Commercial Archeology for nearly 15 years. For nearly all of the Journal articles, I put together a companion page at my website with other signs of the same type or theme. I’m currently working on a feature called “Home Sweet Home” and just found out that this sign in Lake George, NY disappeared around 2019. My photo from 2011 is below. If you’d like to see the other house-themed signs that I’ve assembled so far, here’s a link to that article’s page-in-progress:

The Neo-Lectra that stood at a used car lot in Austin, TX, since probably the 1960s, was removed in 2019. For more about these signs, see my page here:

This sputnik-style sign in Waterloo, IA is also gone. It was installed on a very tall pole at a used car dealership when I took this photo in 2009. It was still there in 2012. By 2019, the entire sign: pole, crappy sign panel, and sputnik were gone. More of this type of sputnik at my website here:

From the Scaffold Signs subsection of the SCA section, the Utz Potato Chip neon sign is gone. Here it was when I shot it in Baltimore, MD in 2003:

The sign pieces were moved to Philadelphia, PA in 2010 and installed on a billboard. My photo below is from 2012. The billboard was replaced with unrelated advertising around 2019. I don’t know what happened with the Utz sign pieces. This removal may have been part of the rollout of the new, redesigned Utz Girl mascot?

There will be lots more signs when I get to that section, many posts from now. That’s the second biggest section and I’m proceeding from the smaller sections to the biggest. I’ve made it through about 350 pages with more than 2,000 pages to go. Another post soon…

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

And So it Begins… the Website Updates

My annual website updating project is underway. This will keep me busy until probably June or so. It entails combing every single thing, every single page, at my website to find broken external links, check maps for current status of things (demolished, repainted, etc.), and update the descriptions about those changes. It also means lots of mostly depressing blog posts about what’s been lost and good news when I can find any. Buckle up.

Let’s start with a couple from the Tiki Buildings section. By the way, for this project, I always start with the smallest sections and work up to the big ones. So, if you are looking for signs and/or mid-century modern buildings, those won’t be posted for a few months.

The Fiji Island restaurant in Roanoke, VA opened in 1972 and had a nice little entrance. I never got a chance to check out the interior but here’s my photo from 2007:

The business closed in 2019 and last year it began housing a gaming store. They painted the building the most depressing shade of gray that they could find and removed the sweet tiki elements – photo credit to Roanoke Times:

In 2019, the Ala Moana Apartments in Costa Mesa, CA were renovated for the Apex Apartment Homes. The lava rock, fountain, and mini bridge are gone but at least the A-Frame is still there. Here are a couple of my photos from before the renovation:

And here’s what it looks like now at Google Street View:

I’m happy to say no major changes to the things in the Paul Bunyan Statues, Statue Collections, Egyptian Revival Buildings, or Teepee Building, Fairy Tale Parks, and Giant Food sections. From the Giant Containers section, this Pepsi bottle at a liquor store in Struthers, OH was repainted around 2017. Here’s my 2010 photo when it still had a faded Pepsi Free label:

Pepsi Free was only produced from 1982-1987 so there was probably another Pepsi label (or other brand) before that. Here’s what the bottle looks like now from Google SV. I’m so glad (and surprised) that they are taking care of it:

The Giant Milk Bottle on the roof of Dairyland Ice Cream in Irvington, NJ disappeared from the roof in 2019. I’d like to think it’s being restored but… seems unlikely. I tried calling them to get the story but their phone number is not working. I’m thinking the place is closed now — my photo from 2009:

The Frostop mug on the roof of the long-closed location in Salem, OH has been missing since 2019. Here’s what it looked like in 2009:

The World’s Largest Teapot in Chester, WV now has a buddy. A creamer was built in the mid-1970s but had been in storage for many years. It was installed next to the teapot in 2015 when it was repainted and Google Maps shows it now. One of my photos from 2012:

and what it looks like now with the creamer:

Note that text was added above the walk-up windows with the new paint job. I don’t think it’s historically accurate but hey. Here’s a postcard from when the teapot was at the pottery shop in town.

From the Bus Stations section, the former Greyhound station in Athens, GA has another new tenant. Here’s my dreary photo from 2009:

It was a gift shop for a while after that. When that business closed in 2019, the building was rehabbed and began housing Chuck’s Fish. There were a few changes to the building (that extra canopy on the left, the glass block at the former entrance added, the windows on the right replaced) but the waiting area canopy on the right was preserved. The bus sign had been missing since around 2015:

The Greyhound station in Eugene, OR closed in 2018. The sign was removed and the windows were boarded up. Here’s a vintage photo postcard of the station:

A photo that I took in 2015:

And what it looks like in 2019:

From the Bottling Plants section, the Coca-Cola building in Fairmont, WV had its relief panels removed. My photo from 2012 when the building had already been bricked up and messed with:

Clearly still vacant and the new Google Map from 2019 shows it without the panels. Did the idiot developers think that would make the property more desirable or did they sell off the panels to a collector/antiques dealer for a fast buck?:

To end with some good news, this former Coca-Cola building in Palatka, FL was in sad shape when I took photos in 2009:

In 2019, work began on the building and, in 2020, it opened as the Azalea City Brewing Co. I can’t find any decent photos of what the building looks like now but it’s basically the same, with the windows uncovered. Here’s what the interior looks like (from Azalea’s website) — looks great!:

I’m moving on to other sections now. I’ve only combed about 200 of about 2,700 pages so far, so this will take time. I’ll be back soon with more good news/bad news.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Days 33, 34 & 35: Oklahoma, Home & Wrap-up

I’m really glad that I took the last two days of this trip to do some Oklahoma shooting on my way back home. Although I was exhausted from pounding away for more than 30 days with non-stop shooting and driving, I was rewarded with glorious sun and I got tons of great photos. Then, it was just a matter of a nearly 1,500 mile jaunt on the interstate. Oy.

I’ve been adding each day’s photos to my website as I’ve been adding these samplings of photos to Flickr and this blog. So, I’m thrilled to report that everything is up at my website. If you want to see the result, have a look at your favorite topics/sections for Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama, Texas, etc. for new additions. Granted, I only got to about half of my planned Florida stuff, and only about 10% of the Alabama/Georgia stuff (“makeup” trip in June) but you’ll still find loads of new places/things and reshooting in sun or showing physical changes to what was already there.

To sum up this five-week trip from mid-August to mid-September….
14,798 miles (3,866 with Sparkle & 10,932 with Gator), about 3,000 photos, $2,134 on gas alone… a new van, a new dog…. quite monumental!

Let’s move on to some Oklahoma stuff. I’ll stick with signs since that’s what most of my blog fans can’t get enough of. Let’s start with a big batch from Oklahoma City. These two below are modern signs. I had the sun in my face/lens, so, I’ll reshoot another time. This evil looking fish is at Pearl’s Crab Town:

This one was built & installed around 2012. If you’d like to see some vintage pizza-flipping signs, check out this page at my website:

This one is at Forest Lumber:

A nice lava-rock facade and “floating” metal letters:

This modern sign with faux patina was created by Todd Sanders of Roadhouse Relics in Austin, TX:

This is a modern sign — built to replicate a long-lost sign that was on this building:

A bunch of legit vintage signs. This one at the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse:

The Club House Market opened in 1947 and is still operating:

Comfort Air Conditioning:

The long-closed Metro Cleaners:

So much to look at here:

Former Nu-Way Cleaners:

A modern replica sign from 2014 installed on a former Buick dealership building on Automobile Alley:

Puckett’s Wrecker is still operating:

A modern sign at Stockyard City:

The “entombed” Union Bus station sign. When they demolished the beautiful building and built the new hideous building, they saved the sign and for whatever dumb idea, put it behind glass waaaaay up high. At least they could have had single sheets of glass instead of all those ribs which makes shooting this nice sign with any justice nearly impossible:

This guy originally held an animated hammer for a hardware store. His hammer was transformed into a wad of cash when he began advertising for the pawn shop below:

Moving on to elsewhere in Oklahoma. Nice metal letters for this one in Enid, OK:

Also in Enid — why they covered up “National” on this side, I don’t know:

This orphaned John’s Apparel sign is in Ponca City:

Another sign from Ponca City:

This drug store in Crescent, OK goes by another name now but the Hood’s Drugs panels were saved and installed on the side of the building:

Moving on to a pair of signs in Enid, OK. This one was originally neon but hey – just glad it’s still there:

This sign originally advertised for Quality Cleaners & Dry Cleaners:

Let’s wrap up this post with some signs from Guthrie, OK. This sign was restored a few years ago, however, the top is already fading:

A modern sign at Stables Cafe:

This sign had been repurposed to read “Antique Mall” by 2008. I don’t know what the original wording was or if it came from somewhere else. I have seen a lot of those “doo-hickeys” on top of the sign in Louisiana. I don’t think I’ve seen them anywhere in Oklahoma other than some similar things on top of theatre signs. However, there was never a theatre at this location.

And, lastly, one of my favorite topics (okay, I have thousands of favorite topics) is car signs and this one is good enough to please me very much even though it’s probably from the 1970s (?). If you’d like to see older car signs, you might enjoy this page at my website:

Going quiet for awhile now while I start building lists and maps for June’s trip. I also want to get through all nearly 3,000 pages at my website to check on possible broken external links and check maps for everything to make sure that things are still there and to update descriptions if they have changed in some way. I’ll start posting “highlights” (news from this process) here as I go.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 31 and 32: Alabama

Some clouds but mostly a great day for shooting. Day 32 was spent behind the wheel on the interstate heading from Alabama to central Oklahoma.

Let’s start with this Chevy dealership in Heflin. The business moved in 2008 and this sign was moved inside the building:

This old used car sign still remains at the old building which is now used as a body shop:

Another one from Heflin. Around 2019, the neon was removed from this sign and the panels were repainted:

This sign in Bessemer looks old enough to be “vintage”:

but I’m pretty sure that this sign over the entrance is new:

This abandoned used car dealership sign is in Bessemer:

A former Stop-N-Go car wash sign in Sylacauga. I don’t know how many locations there were but there is one other surviving stoplight sign like this in Selma:

From Anniston: a very rare still-operating Western Auto store:

Let’s wrap up this post with a bunch of signs from Birmingham:

I’ll be back soon with stuff from Oklahoma City in the final post from this trip.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 29 & 30: Finishing up Florida

This is where things went all wrong weather-wise. The rain started in the morning and hardly let up. I finally gave up on Miami & southern Florida and moved north. Checking the weather forecasts on my phone, there was nowhere else to go really. Rain everywhere in northern FL, and all of Georgia & Alabama. I tried to be patient but with only a few days of vacay left before I had to get back to work at home, I just set aside all the pages of stuff that I had intended to shoot. Boo-hoo. I made the decision to blow off the big 2021 trip to Wyoming, Montana, etc. and come back to finish up what I had to give up on this time. Some people continue to shoot in dark grey & rain but I’ve long gotten over that. It only means crappy photos that you have to reshoot. It seems a big waste of gas money although there’s always the risk that when you return what you wanted to shoot will be gone.

Since very few photos from these two days, I’m combining into one blog post. Let’s start with these two modern neon/plastic combo signs in Stuart which are next door neighbors. I assume the same business owner:

From Del’s Freez (originally a Tastee-Freez) in Melbourne. This sign has been repaired a number of times but they are still using a neon outline instead of cheap & tacky LED:

Miserable weather in Rockledge. But this orange stand at Harvey’s Groves has been closed for years. Better shoot this guy now! He originally revolved.

Let’s take a little break from signs. Here’s a nice midcentury bank in Indiatlantic. The floating mushroom canopy is installed in the courtyard behind the bank and in front and the office building behind it:

These giant conch and clam shells were installed in front of the Shell Bazaar in Port St. Lucie in 1955:

This lonely screentower from 1949 is all that remains of the Fort Pierce Drive-in (in Fort Pierce):

These dolphins are installed in front of Sandy’s Furniture in Vero Beach. If dolphins are your thing, I’ve got a bunch over at my website here:

A 13-foot-tall Space Shuttle replica in Melbourne at the Space Coast Stadium:

OK — let’s wrap up with some signs — and moving on to dreary Georgia. These are from Valdosta:

The current reviews of this motel are not so “jolly” and the rates have been updated over the years (1960s-ish postcards show it as “$8 up” and later “$9.88 up”):

I don’t know what this next-door-neighbor sign advertised for originally. But it’s last gasp was for the Quality Inn. The “Quality” letters are gone now but the motel is still operating. I wish I could find a postcard for this one. I’d love to know what those tall poles supported (plastic ballies or ???):

Last one — which I had to shoot from about 1 mile away to get the sunny side which is only visible over the roof. Hence, the blur. These Martinizing Cleaners signs were mass-produced but there are only a handful left. There’s no hope of this one being restored since the cleaners itself is long gone.

More soon from Georgia & Alabama.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

from the last day in Florida — Orbie on the left was so little then. He’s a beefcake now.

Day 28: Miami & Miami Beach

This was a big shooting day. Mostly buildings (hundreds of mcm/Deco stops) but a few signs here and there.

This electronic clock is a real turn-on to me. Originally installed for the Miami Beach Federal Savings & Loan — sorry you can’t see because of the glare but it’s still operating, alternating between time and temp. Here’s a vintage pcard showing the bldg which I believe was built in 1956:

Some stuff from Miami Beach:

Here’s a nice Art Deco detail from the Marlin Hotel:

This still-operating Publix supermarket is from 1962 and still has the “Where Shopping Is A Pleasure” neon lettering:

Originally a Burdine’s department store — became a Macy’s but still has the company’s neon brand name on the building:

This sign was built in 2012 during the restoration of The Regent Hotel and Cocktail Club as a replica of the original from 1941:

Here’s a detail from the former Nolan-Peters “Cadillac Salon” which had been covered up since the 1940s. It was restored in 2020:

Let’s wrap up with this neon two-fer from 1948:

That’s it for now. Don’t forget the other photos over at Flickr:

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 27: Miami

A busy day in mostly good sun. It seems like a lot of work to have to change the numbers every year:

The Pink Pussycat Lounge:

Yeah, it’s that kinda place:

This one was originally installed in 1959 but it’s been restored a number of times:

There are no neon Reddy Kilowatt signs in Florida — but this company has two locations with images (this painted sign and a plasticized version). More Reddy signs at my website here:

This skeleton sign inside (and two neon signs outside):

The Palacio Inn Motel was built in 1955 as the Casa-Lu Motel. It later became the Fantasy Inn Motel. And then around 2014 it took on this name and the sign was reworked a third time.

The original building is pretty fun also:

This place was built in 1952 as the Motel Dorsett. It changed names a few times after that. It took on this name last year and these signs were installed (there’s a pink version on the other side):

The Sinbad Motel was built in 1953. That chopped off metal projection on the roof originally had a seagull. The gull was destroyed in a hurricane and then a sputnik style Neo Lectra was installed after that. That was also destroyed by another hurricane but the steel arm remains.

One more for this post. The Vagabond Motel was also built in 1953. This sign was long gone but recreated during a 2014 renovation:

That’s a wrap for now. The next post will feature some Miami Beach.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Days 25 and 26: Florida Keys (Key Largo to Miami)

Day 25 was fine with lots of sun. But then my luck was about to change. Day 26 was nasty. Mostly rain and grey, so, very little shooting. Therefore, I’m lumping these two days together.

Let’s start with a few items from Islamorada. Before/after — the Blue Fin sign neon is gone, all plastic & LED now. In the establishment’s defense, countless hurricanes have hit this sign between my 2009 and 2020 photos:

I’m sure the Islander sign has required a bunch of maintenance after the same hurricanes. It’s looking great:

The painted plywood mermaid at the Lorelei restaurant has been painted a few times between these 2009 and 2020 photos. Her hair has grown past her boobs for the first time:

There are not a lot of signs in The Keys but I had plenty of fish, sharks, dolphins, and shells to shoot. The Theatre of the Sea shell fountain is looking great:

Moving on to Marathon. This sign is now LED rope instead of neon tubing (2009 vs. 2020):

Some signs from Key West:

The Blue Marlin hasn’t changed all that much since this 1960s postcard:

Well, the fish is more modern art now — I think that had been missing for years though:

The marlin on top of the sign is a replacement and the wave background on the Blue Marlin panel is gone… but hey:

This sign was much nicer until recently — it was brown and gold and advertised for the Southern Cross Hotel –

Last one for this post — the Shorty’s Market sign is still looking great. I believe this sign is from 1968:

Back soon with stuff from Miami.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 24: More Florida (Port Charlotte to Key Largo)

Another sunny & productive day. All that will change in a couple of days. Not many signs on the schedule so I’ll include some other stuff.

This little guy is modern but still damned cute with booze and torches. In Fort Myers Beach:

Gator Park is technically in Miami but on the very edge of the Everglades:

This terrazzo apron is in Homestead. Royal Castle is long gone but I moved the rubber mat out of the way to take this picture. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Well, I am.

In Fort Myers – originally Franklin Hardware. The glass block, vitrolite tiles, and display windows miraculously still there:

One of the very rare Dairy Queens A-frame buildings which, I believe, were only built in Florida. This one in Port Charlotte is a little squattier than the others:

Another former Dairy Queen A-frame – this one in Bonita Springs:

This modern wrench sign is in Fort Myers.

This guy was installed in Fort Myers when the Bamboo Inn opened in 1961. He’s about five feet tall. The business is now a nightclub (“Buddha LIVE”) and, just a few weeks ago, the statue was painted red which has the locals freaked out. The owner will probably give in and paint him gold again soon.

This buzzard in Key Largo was in rough shape when I shot him in 2009. He was the mascot and directional head-turner on Highway 1 for Buzzard’s Roost Grill & Pub:

And then he disappeared. But I was relieved to find out he’d been saved, restored, and moved to the patio:

I’ll be back with more goodies in a few days — next batch includes stuff from The Keys.

Happy Trails (and Happy 2021!),
dj & the dogs

Day 23 More Florida (Bartow to Port Charlotte)

Another good weather day with loads of photos. Let’s start with a few shots from Lakeland:

The shady side of the street — on my reshoot list:

One of the most famous signs in Florida. The neon was replaced with LED earlier this year but hey.

Delightful — from the Citrus Place in Terra Ceia:

Some shots from Sarasota:

Love the awning as much as the piano-shaped sign:

Long closed:

In North Port:

… and the motel’s wonderful mushroom canopies:

I’ve got Kress buildings from all over the country at my website:

This detail from Sarasota:

and this detail from Lakeland:

And lastly, from Ruskin — the sign over this ticket booth has to be modern but still so sweet:

Don’t forget that the higher quality photos & subjects are not posted here — check out those over at Flickr:

This blog has always been intended for the “lesser” things on these trips, most of which don’t rate inclusion at the website. I’ve got about 10 more days to go for this trip. Be back soon….

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs