Day 7: Socializing & Signs in St. Louis

I thought we might make it through St. Louis and be halfway through Missouri by now.  But some very nice people got in the way.  You’ll see.  Tomorrow, we gotta lay down tracks!

Started out with some stops in Illinois.  Oh, perfect weather all day — and HOT.  90s.  Gave in and got a chance to test out Sparkle’s A/C in the afternoon.  So far so good!

Firstly, a couple shots of the kids in Livingston, IL at the Pink Elephant Antiques Mall.  I had to revisit since they have repainted the Futuro green recently.  If you’re not familiar with Futuros, here’s my page:




From Collinsville, IL:



Also, Collinsville — sorry to report that not only has their swell a-frame building been demolished — but the sign has been reduced to being displayed in the window like this at their new location.
Here’s a shot of the previous location when the sign was installed on the pole:


Also Collinsville:



When in Collinsville, I always stop to shoot the Eck gas station.  Bob Eck, who I’m guessing is well past 60, wanted to take some photos of me but had never used a digital camera before.  I showed him how and grabbed a couple dogs.  Unfortunately, I had goofy or angry looking expressions in all the the shots taken in the sun.  So this will have to do.



Moving on to East St. Louis.  For the rusty crusty fans out there — this should provide a savory alternative to all those overly sweet neon signs I’ve been posting.  I can’t make out the wording but it looks like there’s a crown in the circle.  No building there at all now.



And into St. Louis we go.  A random Art Deco detail:



Social visit #1:  Ars Populi gallery exhhibit ” Art of the Sign”

Bill Christman, a sign designer himself, is “hosting” this assemblage of signs from various collectors.  I don’t know how much longer the show will run — but if you live near St. Louis or are planning a trip there soon — I highly recommend checking it out.

Some stuff from there — including all the incredible neon signs, there’s this piece which features moving vehicles.  It was displayed in a window in Waltham, MA — and local businesses would pay for the little adverts inside:



Bill Christman has collected a lot of signs, statues, and other stuff that decorate his bistro (next to the gallery) and his work space (here):



More of his collection — this Pizza Inn statue:


Social visit #2:  up to St. Charles, MO (just outside St. Louis) to meet Dave Hutson, owner of Neon Time.  He restores signs and produces new ones as well.  Many of the signs he has collected are appearing in the “Art of the Sign” exhibit (see above).  But there are still some other gems in his shop:



Social Visit #3 — Greg Rhomberg who has a huge sign collection – in the hundreds – just a sampling here:




This one was a heartbreaker since I just shot this sign less than two years ago.  The owners were going to trash the sign — luckily, Rhomberg got there in time: 



Oh, and while we’re on a sad note, Rhomberg told me that Saint Louis University started tearing down the Pevely Dairy Building today.  Bye-bye to the big brick building, the scaffold sign, and the little milk bottles.


But it’s not just signs that Rhomberg collects — he’s got toys, vehicles, pinball machines, fire trucks, travel trailers, on and on.  Warehouses full of stuff, all tidy and organized.  He had plans to open his own museum at one point — but has no ambition for it now.  He does lend stuff out to other museums.





So, although it set my schedule back at least half a day — and it was painful to be inside instead of outside shooting and driving — it was well worth the time hooking up with these guys.  Next trip to town, I’ll have to set aside an extra day to check up on their doings.  

Now, nearly 1am and I’ve got sleeping to do.


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11 thoughts on “Day 7: Socializing & Signs in St. Louis

    • I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years scouring Illinois so I didn’t feel too guilty. Plus this was the skinnier part of the state (I-70) with not too many major cities. If Chicago were down here, I fear I’d be three days further behind.

    • Gas is hovering at $3.80-ish — not terrible. But I have had some $80 fill-ups which is a little shocking.

      I didn’t know any of those three guys. Only spoken on the phone with two of them re: specific signs that I was writing articles for. So this was a treat — and a rarity. Hanging out with people is not my thing.

  1. Dear DJ,
    I’ll bet you are wondering why your shotgun passenger hasn’t had anything to say so far. It’s not a case of “If you can’t say anything nice,…..”. I just had to catch up to today’s post, that’s all.So, I’m all set to follow each day now. Promise.

    Of course, I have enjoyed your shots as I did a marathon today of the last week & the mini trip.

    Sorry you had more problems with dumb asses thinking you were stealing their souls by photographing their buildings. Complaining to you is one thing, but assault of you or Dee is over the top.

    I’ll give you my usual compliment & stop here.EXCEPT:
    When will the yummy road snacks begin?

    Take care, pal.

    • Glad you’re on board. Yes, that was some event with those guys accosting me. Makes me look over my shoulder a bit more.

      I’ve been really cutting back on the sugar intake — basically, none. Still doing a little dairy (cheese, milk in coffee when I can’t find soy). But I will get some ice cream or something soon. After all, it was in the 90s yesterday and same expected today. Plus it’ll be hotter in AZ & NM. I’ll deserve a sundae or something.

  2. Wow!! Planning a trip in the fall to do the first leg of Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis. Thank you for these great recommendations. Will HAVE to check out Neon Time!

    • Neon Time in St. Charles is just a small sign shop. I didn’t put many photos up (one?) from there. But if the exhibit at Ars Populi in St. Louis is still there — you definitely want to go. Make plans to the museum in Cincy at some point.

  3. That exhibit looks neat – and I am especially fascinated by the window display from Waltham, MA as that’s in my old neck of the woods. I can’t vouch for all of the business names to be actual businesses, but Jordan’s Furniture is a New England institution.

    • I’m pretty sure all the businesses were real. It was displayed at something like a chamber of commerce window & the businesses would have paid to have their names there. The rows of vehicles all move at the same time — alteranting rows left to right.

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