Day 24: Wichita in the Sun (part II)

Alrighty then — let’s play catch up.  Yesterday’s weather was so gorgeous and today was so miserable.  More about that later in the Day 25 post that I’ll be working on right after this one.

I started the day in Pratt.  I trekked back there late the night before so I’d be poised to photo the Donald’s Serva-teria sign in the morning (photo & video over at Flickr).  But I miscalculated the alarm because I hadn’t adjusted it for the time zone change.  Found myself up an hour too early (they open at 6am) but at least I was able to get the Flickr stuff up because of that.

Onward to Kingman after that.  I’m sure this vacuum-molded sign must have been mass-produced but I’ve never seen another one.  I’m a sucker for anything mortar & pestle.  Endless & subtle variation on a theme:

This sign also in Kingman.  I believe this motel is now apartments.

Now on to Wichita where we spent most of the day.  There are apparently 4 of 6 of this chain’s locations left.  This is #6:
History of the chain which was founded in 1948:

I found out about these marble curb signs from US 71’s Flickr stream and wanted to see them for myself:

The Mentholatum Building is one of my favorites in Wichita:

A very neat donut shop on the eastside of downtown — the Donut Whole:

All of the donuts are the cake type and I usually prefer the glazed type which are air-ier.  But I had to show my support for the giant chicken on the roof.  The 3 selected flavors posed on the counter, left to right:  peach cobbler, lemon cooler and maple nut.  36 hours later, of course they’re gone!  Hey, I need rewards for all that driving and sugar to keep me up late at night to write these things.  The donut itself was yummy — tasted just like really good cake.  But I think the icing was a little too much in quantity and sweetness.

Signs, signs — I hope you like signs.  Crusty but not too rusty:

A couple nice parking signs downtown (no book deal yet):

The Dyne-Quik is a Valentine diner — unfortunately, closed for many years:

Public art at the center of downtown.  Lots of annoying bronze children playing.  But this was more unusual.  Dogs (or foxes?) and ducks.  One barks at a few of them on top of the something-or-other.  While another dog-fox carries off an apparently dead duck in his mouth.  Rather graphic, no?  And they seemed to be easy to trip over to me.  But my Wichita friend assures me that people don’t walk around downtown much.

I had never noticed this building before.  It was originally designed as it is now:  as a  residence above the retail space.

Just next door is this building which I suspect was originally a Firestone Tire store.  Here’s one with a similar pylon tower in San Mateo, CA:

Moving on to towns outside of Wichita — this sign was in El Dorado:

Time for a real meal!  My night off from blogging and Flickring was spent with my email pal, Glenda.  She’s taught me practically everything I know about Wichita and has sent me countless photos over the years for my website.  We had dinner at the El Maguey (translates agave plant) Mexican restaurant in Winfield:

Yours truly — the face behind the camera, the website, and these blog postings.  Yes, I wear my glasses on my head now nearly 24 hours per day. Classy:

 Glenda was getting way ahead of me:

But I caught up:

(kidding)  Note the splash on the front of my t-shirt.  Nice.  Can’t take me anywhere.

OK, so that takes care of the obligatory photo of me for each big roadtrip.  Now, as requested by several of my followers, a plate of real food.  This (at bottom) was my veggie combo:  enchilada, burrito & chalupa.  Although they basically all tasted the same to me.  My friend got some beefy guac-y thing (top):

OK — off to work on today’s photos & blog post now.

10 thoughts on “Day 24: Wichita in the Sun (part II)

  1. Glad to see you gals had a good time at your dinner. Looks like you might have overdone it a bit on the drinks,though, if you know what I mean.
    Also glad to see you finally had a few donuts. However, one donut per 12 hours? Wish I had that control. Lucky for me if they would have lasted 36 minutes.
    I see from The Donut Whole website they have a pretty good selection of flavors. Plus “PALETAS”. Ever have these? Sounds good.
    OK, on to a question. Thanks for your efforts on the Donal’s Serva-teria: Your excellent daytime shot was from one side , and the video from the other. Does this mean the neon was worse or not working on the other side? Plus, why only 10 seconds for the video?
    Just to say the Former Vickers Gas Station shot was super. Also, North High School: WOW. One last thought: The Shingel Dog reminds me of the Trojan Rabbit for The holy Grail. Anyone else?
    Thanks again for your hard work, missy.

    • Even a sip is overdoing it for me! Never had paletas. They sound like Froz-Fruits which we have in NYC anyway — might be national not sure. They are a great treat on a hot day. I shot video of both sides of the Donald’s sign but chose the side I did because of the neat clouds and I liked the way the bottom text flickered. I keep videos short — just enough to give the idea. The neon was only partially lit on the other side as well. Glad you’re enjoying my efforts.

  2. Indeed, not many people walk around in downtown Wichita – I’ve never seen a place that “rolled up the sidewalks” at 5 pm. About 20 years ago, I was assigned temporarily to our company’s Wichita office for two weeks – even the Wendy’s downtown promptly closed at 5. A native described it as the “rancher mentality”, i.e. gotta get home to defend the ranch before dark. Is the big Woolworth’s store with the lunch counter extended around three sides still open? I would expect not, but it sure did a good business back in the early nineties.

    • Nope – Woolworths closed many years ago. What stands in its place is a pocket park with an awesome sculpture of a lunch counter – almost exactly where the original was located (I remember going there when I firsted started in the workforce in 1976).

      Once 5pm hits downtown is pretty desolate. When we lived in Wichita we’d ride bicycles to a Thursday night pub-crawl. Going to the bar at 7pm and coming home at 2am – didn’t make a difference, downtown was empty.

      • Glancing at the link (not much time on my hands) — it sounds like the lunch counter was not based on a sit-in at all. I couldn’t tell if it’s really still there but I didn’t bump into that one while I was in town.

  3. Hi!

    Great blog! My partner Angie and I own The Donut Whole, and appreciate the kind words. I worked for years as a commercial designer and signmaker before I got into the donut biz, and like you, am a big fan of vintage signage.

    I write to make a slight correction to your report, and perhaps add a little insight. The Dyne Quik has not been closed for “many years;” in fact, I ate breakfast and lunch there regularly until about two summers ago. The longtime owner retired then, and the new owner apparently made the mistake of closing temporarily when he took over — which meant when he reopened, he could no longer ride on the “grandfather” clauses of local ordinances, and would be required to bring the building up to modern code. In this case, the Valentine building has only one tiny bathroom, and it’s through the kitchen (not to mention utterly inaccessible to the handicapped). So it remains shut at present.

    The gorgeous Mentholatum building is now home to The Spice Merchant, which provides our signature fresh-roasted coffee beans at The Donut Whole. But across the street, catty-corner in the block to the west, is the building where Mentholatum was actually invented by A.A. Hyde. It’s the Yucca Company Building, still standing and currently being refurbished.

    I wish I had spoken with you when you came into the shop, as I am a local history nerd, and could have given you a slew of places to visit and tons of little historical tidbits I’m sure you would have enjoyed. Please take a look at the Wichita Then & Now website I created two years ago, comparing vintage local pictures to Google Street View photos of the same sites today:

    Hope you come through again…next time send me an e-mail beforehand! I’d love to talk with you about this type of stuff.

    Best regards always,
    Michael Carmody
    The Donut Whole
    Wichita, Kansas, USA
    Air Capital of the World

    PS: In 2007, I also wrote a photoblog essay about my trip to Tulsa to see them dig up the car they had buried in a vault at the courthouse for 50 years…some great architecture and signage pics there.

    • (Also, Wichita’s downtown is in the middle of a radical transformation at present. Anybody who has not been here in ten or more years would be shocked. When I moved here in 1988 there were literally tumbleweeds rolling down the street, but the core of town is being reenergized and reurbanized in a big way. Come check it out…it’s exciting!)

    • So maybe it was you that sold me those donuts two days ago? You would certainly remember me photo-ing them on your counter. That probably doesn’t happen much. I have been to Wichita two or three times now. I think I have gathered the things I’m interested in but might be missing a few things. For the purposes of my website (, I’m pretty picky about eras and categories. If you have suggestions about things I might be missing (of course a LOT of new stuff I just shot on this trip and won’t be up at my site for months since I’ve got thousands of photos to add), shoot me an email (

      Thanks for the correction about the Dyne Quik. I was pretty sure it was closed when I was there in 2005. I don’t have a lot of energy when I write these blogs at 2am each night so I didn’t get into details about the Mentholatum Bldg. I usually just include links for some history in case someone is interested in something.

  4. I figured you knew that Dyne Quik in Wichita was a Valentine, as you first linked me to a site about Valentine Diners. Do you know if they ever made anymore of those Dyne Quik units? Also, if you ever get time, I hope you’ll ask your flickr friend what she knows about those marble street signs, on Broadway in Wichita. I think I know their origin, but so far it’s been just fun speculation on my part.



    • Those both sound like local (Wichita) research projects. Since I live in NYC I don’t have any local connections. You might want to try the flickr person yourself and the Wichita Valentine site as starting points. There must be a local historical group with some answers or at least leads to people that could help you further.

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