Holiday Getaway: Day 2, Xmas Eve in Bostonland

Sun!!!  This might be the best weather day of the trip so I raced around town to town, the best I could considering the traffic.  Lots of folks out there not used to driving — or that shouldn’t have been.  But we’re all safe and settled in here.  After a full day or shooting, and some socializing — it’s past midnight now.   Those of you that are new to my blog should keep in mind that I’m fried when I write these things.  By the time I’ve dealt with dogs, basic hygiene, emails, cropping & tweaking photos, throwing about a dozen of ’em over at Flickr — there’s not much left for coherent or creative writing.  But I know you all are just here for the photos — and I’ve got a lot of them tonight — so let’s proceed.

Since it’s Xmas Eve — I’ve got a couple cute ones for you — if you’re not already sick of all the holiday cheer.  From the main square in Quincy.  These sure seem vintage to me.  Like the stuff of those fake aluminum Xmas trees or tinsely garlands.  I like them far better than fiberglass:

I went to reshoot a gas station in Quincy — but it, too, was decorated for the season — so I’ll be reshooting again another time.  One of those winged wheel reliefs lurks behind the wreath:

One more from Quincy — a neat mid-century bldg — the St. Ann School:

I don’t know what’s going on in downtown Waltham — but the “good stuff” is going quick.  Two businesses & their signs gone since I was here last year.  I hope this isn’t the next casualty:

This oldie is at a crazy intersection (suddenly one-way) at the border of Dorchester & Boston.  I’m not sure what they’re technically called but I just call them “reflecto signs”.  I’m bleary now but I’m pretty sure these were glass ballies.  But they could have been metal.  With the glare from the sun here, it’s hard to tell in this photo.  In any case, the idea is to reflect headlights — a method used before neon and flashing lights.

From Needham:  a fun name & atomic-y logo.  Looks like the sign on the side of the building is from 1965:

To appease those of you that need your food fix, I present the “score” of the trip so far.  I’m a big Panera fan.  They had free wifi way before Starbucks & McDonald’s.  And I’ve eaten hundreds of their Mediterranean Veggie sandwiches over the years.  They used to have another veggie option but now this is it.  But it’s spicy and healthy.  I’ll usually have half for dinner and the other half for breakfast.  Easy to eat at the wheel and solves two meals with one stop.  I’m also a devotee of their arthichoke souffle things.  But that’s not what I’m here to rave about now.  I impulsively grabbed a pack of these shortbread cookies… and so glad I did.  Didn’t even notice the icing til I bit in.  If you love butter AND sugar as much as I do, I highly recommend.  I could do without the sprinkles… but it’s Xmas and all so you gotta play along.

Only one more Xmas thing I promise (for tonight, can’t promise about tomorrow).  Toy solider, right?, from the Sherborn Inn in Sherborn:

A cute hot dog stand in North Grafton.  Not open I guess because it was in the 30s today and Xmas Eve.  I don’t know if the “Brooklyn” refers to my Brooklyn in NY — or the Brooklyn in MA.  This looks more like a trolley car than a subway.  But then maybe it’s supposed to be an old NYC streetcar (where the name Brooklyn Dodgers came from)?

OK, on to today’s Big Event.  I’ve been dying to meet Dave Waller, a big-time neon collector & see his stuff for years now.  But truth is, it’s hard for me to muster the courage to email or call people up and just invite myself.  Luckily, by the time I finally sucked it up and asked, Dave Waller already knew about me from my website & Tod at the American Sign Museum so I didn’t have to explain myself and beg.  So this was a pure treat!  And I’ve not even seen the half of it.  There will be a Part II later when there’s time for a visit to his warehouse full of treasures.  I’m flattered enough that he even took me in on Xmas Eve with relatives arriving and all that.

So, here’s the man:

I guess I should mention that this collection is in his home — which is huge since it’s a former firehouse — with vast spaces and high ceilings to display these beauties.  A put a handful of them over at Flickr tonight — and there will be others at the site when I get home and sort things out.  But here are a couple more teasers.  I don’t remember where this one came from.  The hand is sure a neat variation to the pointing arrow, no?

This one came from Quebec someplace (“The Nest of Gold”? — bike for scale:

I can’t remember from where — but wow — (sorry for the blur — I think my autofocus chose something in the background):

Dave is not just a collector but also restores the neon and has a workshop in his basement.  First, let’s clarify some things.  Not to worry folks:  he doesn’t “go after” signs.  Like us, he’d rather see them stay in place as long as possible.  He’s also not a wheeler dealer, buyer/seller of signs.  He also loans out many of these signs to museums and such.  Let’s just say that his heart is right place and he’s a totally generous guy.  In it for the preservation aspect — not the bucks. 

Anyhow, here’s a shot of some of neon stored at the workshop:

And in addition to the signs, he’s got a bona fide Worcester Diner and a whole lot of other stuff.  Yes, in his house!  There’s a whole story behind the diner —  but I was too distracted by the signs to absorb much and, even if I could remember, it’s late and tomorrow’s another big day.

Thanks Dave!!!  

Tomorrow, more Boston area stuff planned with a little diversion across the border for some places in NH.  Hopefully, there will be sun and all the traffic will have died down while people are  doing their family things.  I’m glad my “family” is portable and loves driving around for 13+ hours a day as much as I do.  Be glad you’re really NOT along for the ride!

13 thoughts on “Holiday Getaway: Day 2, Xmas Eve in Bostonland

  1. Great post as usual. I wish you a warm and happy Christmas with well-behaved dogs, unexpected treasures and most of all good light. And a very happy birthday!

    • The sun’s coming up here — yes SUN! You forgot the part about good sugary snacks. I’m so jealous of your pancakes! Maybe when I’m in FL next time I can drag you out of bed before the sun comes up and we can get some?

  2. I’m pretty sure from the looks of it that that toy soldier in Sherborn was originally from Shoppers World in Framingham, MA – which was reportedly the first shopping mall east of the Mississippi. The mall was more like a shopping plaza turned inside on itself, where the shops all opened up into a walkway that in turn surrounded an open area with grass and walkways. At Christmas they’d have these soldiers on display as well as real reindeer at the place where you could get your photo taken with Santa. I always remember seeing Shoppers World from Route 9 and thinking the distinctive dome above the anchor store Jordan Marsh looked like a huge version of the wart they’d use in the Compound W commercials-!

    Thrilled to see the inside of the Waller “house” again! I was lucky enough to be included in the group that was invited back there to check out Dave’s collection after the Diner Tour in…1995? To this day I have a total crush on their house and collection! I recall both Dave and his wife being very lovely people and am glad to hear that he’s “fighting the good fight” still.

    You’ve inspired me to upload some photos of an unexpected Laundry / Dry Cleaner I found yesterday in Dover DE on my way to the Amish Market to pick up our Christmas pie. Best to you and your furry companions, and thanks for the missive from home! Beth, Cliff & Rigby

  3. OK, THIS TIME I did my sun dance TWICE for you. Looks like it worked!Happy to see you had the motherlode of neon this trip, restored & otherwise. Great stuff. Good work.

    So, jazz not your thing. I’m lucky that I like lots of styles of music. Hopefully you have more than one . Name some please.
    How’d your shortbread compare to our standard, Walkers?

    Drive carefully & get home safe.

    • Your dancing ain’t working today. A total bust. They’re expecting 1 to 2 feet of white stuff here in Boston. I’m heading home before all hell breaks lose. I mostly listen to the Sirius Bluegrass channel while driving. Otherwise, my life is pretty music-free. Shortbread was awesome — right up there with Walkers.

  4. Sorry, I did the dance for Xmas Eve, not today. Worked then, not now. Good only for one day at a time.
    I am very surprised that you are a bluegrass or nothing gal.I like it too, & country, but without my Beatles , yikes!
    When you read this hopefully your return home in the blizzard or whatever is uneventful & Car Talk,etc. kept you entertained.
    As good as Walkers is great.
    Looking for your final post.

    • Home now — snow really coming down so I did the sensible thing to turn tail & run. Post later tonight or tomorrow. The only music is while driving. So it’s mostly bluegrass but also some of the 60s channel (as long as that moron Cousin Brucie isn’t on it) and a lot of yap (Lynn Samuels, NPR, etc.).

  5. Debra Jane, that little food trolley was built by a local company in Everett, Mass. back in the late 1980’s (the company does not exist now). There were a lot of them around here at one time. You see less and less of them now. The people who had the Lunch Box Diner in Malden a couple of years ago (Scott & Kritsen Drago) have one very similar to the one you show. I have photographed a half dozen possibly over the years.

    My very first “Diner Hotline” for the SCA NewsJournal back in the Spring 1989 edition featurd a small piece about Dave Waller buying the Apple Tree Diner. The last person to operate the Apple Tree was a really good friend of mine, Warren Jones. He passed away 2 years ago.

  6. The neon MOTEL sign with pointing hand at Dave Waller’s is probably from Moody’s Cabins in Waldoboro, Maine. I remember seeing it there for many years, until about 1993 or 1994, if memory serves.

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