Day 27: Phoenix (Day 2)

Alrighty then.  I’m going to try to catch up — but I’m feeling really beat.  I don’t know if I can do two posts tonight.  Yesterday, was all in the Phoenix area — and then my get together at night.  It was another super hot day — 107 I think.  I got the dogs back to the dog park with the lake in Gilbert early in the day.  A nice long romp and then kept them safely inside the relatively cool van all day.  When I hopped out to take photos it was shockingly hot.  Yet, people were out jogging, biking, all that.  These Phoenixians are sure sturdy stock!

On to the pictures so I might conserve some energy for a second batch tonight.  Another &*%^@% pole — this one in Tempe:



A couple of signs in Mesa:




While in Mesa, I stopped by Graham’s Neon.  They are restoring the Starlite Motel sign which crashed to the ground in 2010.  It’s a HUGE sign and is costing a fortune.  Fundraising is still going on.

I had hoped to get a look of the restoration-in-progress — but it was in storage in another building.  But I did get to see this bit of one of the diving lady’s faces that was too far gone and had to be replaced.  This sign had a lot of rust:


For context, here’s a shot of the sign that I took in 2004:



A sweet little Art Deco storefront in Mesa housing a flower shop (Zuzu’s Petals):



A few other signs from Mesa — note the piano on the left:



Unfortunately, Sally’s is closed so I don’t know what will become of this gargantuan sign.  I can only think of a couple signs that have a Star of David — and none other than this with the neon extended off the sign like this:



I don’t think I have seen these “flaps” for Vacancy / No Vacancy outside of the Phoenix area.  Usually, motels just have a separate switch for the neon “No”.



Another example of these perforated sign thingies.  These on top of the Westernaire Motel (I posted a night photo of that sign in the last blog — but these were not lit):



The Wagon Wheel Bar in Phoenix is gone — but this sign remains.  Apparently, someone is caring for the sign because it was lit at least as recently as 2010: 



Rip’s Bar in Phoenix is still open.  A funky sign and roof:



Moving on to the evening’s big event — and the reason that I’m now so miserably behind in posting.  I got together with Doug Towne — the Editor for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) publications which I write for:

Doug is always positive and enthusiastic about my columns — actually, about everything I think.  We’ve been emailing back and forth for about five or six years — but I hadn’t met him or spoken to him until last night.  He’s just as wonderful in person.  Doug is a better writer than I am.  He’s also a hydrologist and an artist and an accomplished badminton player.  We did Mexican — and here he is with his wife, Mo:



As much as I hate having my photo taken, here it is…



Mo also took a photo of Doug and I together.  Doug posted it to Facebook — not sure if this link will work but I’ll give it a shot:

OK — I’m off to work on today’s stuff now.  If I can’t get it done tonight, I’ll try for the morning.


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20 thoughts on “Day 27: Phoenix (Day 2)

    • You mean for the website? I can’t tell you what a pain that was. I have no style sheets since I built my foundation on cut & paste html code. A few months ago, I contacted some website building companies that said they could “fix” up my site with style sheets (change one page and it would change them all) — but it would START at $10,000. So… I spent several nearly a week, every free second, cutting & pasting to change the tops and bottoms of pages. Won’t be doing that again anytime soon — and glad someone noticed – ha!

  1. that Starlite Motel sign to me is your iconic image — i love those diving women so much! glad it is getting restored. if i have extra money at some point i will try to donate.

    glad you had a night off (sorta)…. that looked like it was fun!


  2. did you watch the video about the diving ladies? it’s amazing. oh my goodness! (i want to learn how to weld — i knew how when i was young but haven’t in years obviously)…..

  3. Doug and Mo are good folks, I can back you up on that. I met them at my first SCA conference in Reno and we have been friends ever since. Glad you got to meet them!

  4. I don’t think there has been an actual bar in the Wagon Wheel buildings. It has been a strip mall with a semi-restored old sign for quite a few years now, and I don’t recall ever seeing a bar there (certainly not in 2010).

    It’s supposed to be cooler this weekend, stick around Phoenix a bit! 🙂

    • I think it was a bar — but I just don’t know when (originally or just in later years).

      Already done with Phoenix — am in Tucson tonight — and then moving on to the east and north tomorrow. We don’t stay in one place very long — lots of territory to cover on these trips. No dawdling!

      • The Wagon Wheel was an actual bar, I recall stopping in there durng the early 1990s. Some art types moved in shortly afterward and have kept the sign going.

  5. I can’t single out too many things from your last batch ’cause it’s another stellar selection. Lots to smile at.

    Of course, the Starlite Motel sign is a classic & glad it’s being looked after so well. Thanks for your documentation.

  6. It was so good to meet you! For years, I had wondered, how does this lady keep up on all these signs? And now I know!! Loved meeting your doggies and seeing their tricks too. Doug has tried a few commands with our cats, to no avail. 🙂 Safe travels and good weather!! Mo

    • I’m glad you found the dogs entertaining. Yeah, I wish I got “tips” about sign news — but, like most everything, you’re on your own and have to do all the grunt work yourself. Cats are far harder to motivate — but if you start small and reward mightily (starve them! and offer fantastic treats), I hear it can be done.

  7. Regarding the diving girl sign. If it costs $100,000 to repair this sign, then there is something VERY WRONG in this country. I don’t want to get into a political discussion, but really… $100K? Do you suppose the original purchaser of this sign paid anywhere near that 50 years ago, even when adjusted for inflation? I doubt it. It would shock me if he paid more than $1,000 (adjusted to today’s dollars). Just unbelievable. It’s the exact same thing that’s wrong that made your car repair be $5,000. But enough. I’m enjoying the pictures immensely.

    • I do here about far smaller signs costing $20,000 to restore. Depends on how much needs to be done — and the generosity of the sign shop. These guys at Graham are charging probably cost on the the thing + minimal labor. They’re not out to make a buck. That sign is HUGE after all — and needed tons of work.

      As for my woes, $5000 does seem high — but it was $2000 in parts and the rest labor. They DID get me out of there in less than 48 hours though and I know the two guys worked basically the whole time.

      What makes me nuts though — is fixing what should be diagnosable over and over (my A/C fer instance!) and still not getting it right, still having trouble. Although the money kills me (even more OT when I get home to get the debt down to a reasonable level) — but what kills me more is the wasted shooting time.

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