Day 17: Moving on to Mississippi

About half the day was spent wrapping up NW AL. Vast distances between shots and a late start. The rain was pouring and the sky was pitch black for at least the first couple hours when the sun should have been out. The weather continued to be mixed — rain with brief periods of sun. I hear tomorrow should be way better which is great since I have tons of stuff planned in the Memphis area.

This afternoon, during a sunny break, I found a big field for the dogs to cut loose in. There were some big hay bales and I thought I’d get you a group shot. I got Fixie and Grem up there and Nik and Grip were about to join them. Just as I was hoisting Grip up, Fix and Grem hopped down. Which was very unusual. I quickly saw why: ants. Thousands of them. Poor Fixie ran immediately off to the van which always has the big door open. She wasn’t coming back out for nothing. Licked at her feet for almost an hour afterwards and kept shooting me those “When are we going HOME?” looks. Grem must’ve been bitten just as badly but she’s not one to dwell on such things. Never licked at her feet — much more important things to focus on. I found out later that these were fire ants. And upon Googling now, I guess I should’ve been far more concerned: “Fire ants may cause serious allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. Watch for excessive swelling, hives, trouble breathing, fast breathing, weakness, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea and collapse.” Other sources say the bites can even result in death. Jeez. Fixie seems perfectly fine now but she’s probably going to be a bit reluctant about the next family portrait.

This photo gives you an idea of how my day began. I always shoot neon flame signs — even modern ones.  I believe this was in Muscle Shoals, AL:

This guy was definitely in Muscle Shoals.  I think he might be one of these guys — but missing his lower body:

Another Muscle Shoals stop.  My first true donut stop of the trip (the modern Krispy Kreme place the other day didn’t count).  I got three donuts.  And they are gone.  I do share them with four dogs though!  May I recommend the maple frosted with pecans.  They have four fillings which you can choose from and they fill your donut to order.  Also you can choose between peanuts or pecans as your topping.

I don’t know what the deal is with this sign in Florence, AL.  There was no Pepsi plant nearby but there was a sign shop so I suspect it’s theirs.  This thing is huge and revolves.  It’s on an enormous pole and impossible to miss:

Trowbridge’s Ice Cream Bar is in downtown Florence.  It’s been there since 1918.  Not open on a Sunday morning but I shot through the glass for you:

This sign is on North Wood Avenue in Florence — hence the cute faux wooden plank for the sign:

This sign is from Russellville, AL.  Looks like a reworked oldie to me – or, more likely, a nicely done replica:

The King Drive-in is also in Russellville:

Another drive-in from Alabama — the Blue Moon Drive-in is in Gu-Win (between Guin and Winfield).  I’ve seen other old screen towers with living quarters and offices — even one with retail space — built into the lower backside.  But this one takes the prize for multiple units:

Last stop in AL was in Northport where I encountered this giant hammer sign:

There were several stops in MS but it was all “meat” (website-worthy) and no “potatoes” (blog material).  But I’m sure I’ll have lots of TN & MS stuff for you tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Day 17: Moving on to Mississippi

  1. Yes, please be careful about the fireants in the south. They are just horrible. They haven’t emerged here yet, but will soon. You will see little piles of dirt everywhere, that is their mound. Viscious creatures. Glad Fixie is OK.

    • I don’t know how we’ve never encountered them before. We’ve been to the South many times. Fixie is just fine today — physically and emotionally. If I get bit by these things, should I apply some sort of ointment or take Benadryl? I guess I should hit Google later so I’m prepared.

  2. I’m just now catching up to your last few days of posts and they are just great. LOVE the old rusted signs and all the other cool stuff in between. You’re an inspiration!

  3. DJ – Still have a few scars on my ankles from the fire ants in the Florida panhandle – nasty little things. The stings were like a bee but the itching was the worst part. Glad it wasn’t worse for you and the family!

  4. i’m very sad no pictures of the donuts — that sounds crazy yummy that they fill them for you on the spot. mmmmm!

    sorry to hear about the fire ants. i was looking forward to a group shot.

    great pics of Memphis, Debra Jane!

  5. ooh that ice cream place is totally swoonworthy, and Retro Roadmap worthy – thanks for taking the interior shots, I’m putting that on my map of places to check out!

    I had never known a lot about fire ants ’til I read this – thanks for keeping me informed, and somewhat glad I live up north!

  6. There is more than one Clark Gas sign in the Shoals (the name for the Quad City area of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia), so I cannot be positive which one you have a photograph of.

    Gerald Murray is not missing the bottom half of his body; I am 99% sure that he has always just been a torso. He certainly has been in his present condition for at least 15 to 20 years.

    The Planet Pepsi sign is located in Sheffield, AL and dates to somewhere around 2007 or 2008 (I cannot recall which year). While there is no Pepsi plant in Sheffield near that sign, there is a Buffalo Rock distributor (the local Pepsi distributor and maker of Grapico, a Southern specialty and Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, likely the manliest soda legally available) off Highway 43 (Woodward Ave.) in Muscle Shoals (or Tuscumbia, the two cities have been fighting over that distinction for a few decades). That Buffalo Rock distribution center dates to the mid-1960s. The Planet Pepsi sign is located where it is because Highway 43 is the most heavily traveled road in the Shoals, especially across O’Neal Bridge, which is located just north of the sign. There is also a large Coca-Cola advertisement near the Planet Pepsi sign, which the Pepsi advertisement now dwarfs, which is likely what Pepsi intended.

    Thorn’s Florist is an old neon sign, just de-neoned and repainted, a rare investment for the Shoals area or Russellville, most area’s neon signs have been removed and destroyed in the last decade.

    Although you took photographs of several interesting signs, you missed the City Shoe sign in Downtown Florence (removed 2012), the Masonic Lodge sign in Downtown Florence, the Wilson’s sign in Downtown Florence, the WLAY sign in Muscle Shoals (formerly on the WLAY Building on Second St., now rusting in a field behind the building), the Elite Shop sign and facade in Downtown Sheffield, the Campbell’s Restaurant sign in Sheffield (or Muscle Shoals as those two cities have been fighting over that area’s municipal ownership for a few decades, removed 2012) and the Southland Restaurant sign in Sheffield (restored in the 2000s, toppled and partially destroyed in the 2011 tornadoes).

    The greatest neon sign you never had a chance to see was the Coca-Cola sign on top of the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Downtown Florence, so impressive that the sign was designated an Alabama Landmark. That sign was 20-30 feet tall and 40-50 feet wide of solid 1940s neon. The sign disappeared around 2000 when the Bottling Plant was demolished; it is likely that it was irreparably damaged when removed and put into storage. Unfortunately, we will probably never see it re-erected, just like the adjacent WOWL TV Owl sign which was removed around the same time.

    • Thanks for the info. I’ll have to take a closer look at your suggestions and corrections when I get home. Right now, I’m on the road and am averaging four hours of sleep at night writing these blog posts and uploading some photos to Flickr before the next day begins again. I know I shot the Masonic Lodge sign in Florence — what I upload here to the blog is just a tiny sampling — and not usually stuff “worthy” of appearing at my website. Here are some Alabama signs:

      • I simply forgot to mention the destruction wrought to the Wilson’s facade; it was orange and black with neon signage and vitrolite panels (some of which remain). Lackey’s Furniture is just some Johnny-come-lately; they have not been in business a third of the period as Bryson’s Furniture. I always refer to the building as the Bryson’s Furniture Building (and sign, because it is the original sign, just repainted and de-neoned).

        I also forgot to mention the Sheffield Masonic Lodge sign on N. Atlanta Ave., de-neoned in 2011 when the sign was repained. The sign has the same lettering, slightly modernized but suffers from the removal of the neon lighting.

        There are probably many other Shoals signs which I have forgotten about, many which still exist, just with no actual neon lighting in a de-neoned state. If I think of any, or recognize any when driving around in the Shoals, I will mention them in a future comment.

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