Orange County Goodies

Sunday was devoted to Orange County and some L.A. area stops.  I got the dogs to the fantastic beach in Huntington Beach first thing for legal off-leash romping.  I don’t mind getting up at 5:30am on the weekend for the ones I love.  Maybe just a little.  The coastal fog was still lingering in the morning as evidenced by this sign in Costa Mesa.  This sign has mysterious origins since it appeared in the parking lot sometime after 2011.  There is no “Midway Market” here — just an assortment of businesses like the Waffleholic Cafe which was awfully tempting.  The other side of the sign is flat with painted letters rather than the raised, applied type like those on the side shown here.  There are holes on each letter where the neon would have been:


Just down the block at New York Hardware is this sign strapped to a fence.  Another super oldie with opal glass letters.  Notice how the metal was perforated with little strips to connect those internal bits (the P, A, R, D) to the panel.  Google Street View shows the sign has been there since at least 2008.  And the company’s website shows at least two other neon hardware signs inside — as well as a nifty sputnik light fixture:

I’m waiting to hear back from the owner about his collection and what he knows about this sign.  I’ll update this description if I find out anything:


Back to Huntington Beach where it hadn’t gotten any sunnier yet.  I’m a fan of this building even though it was built in 1985.  Okay, so it is sort of a Disney interpretation of Streamline Moderne but I still like it.  It originally housed the Bubbles Balboa Club restaurant.  It was a sunny day when I shot this in 2008.  The building was housing Bubbles Art Gallery then:


By 2013, the building was boarded up and vulnerable looking.  Then, last year, it was put to use as Maverick’s Gastropub.  Sorry to see the tile, block glass, and porthole windows on the doors are gone.  But better than a new CVS drug store or something, right?


From Orange.  Some real pretty shapes going on here.  At first I thought that the “Angel” might be a reference to Angel Stadium in Anaheim which is visible just north of here.  But I think this motel preceded the baseball stadium and the text doesn’t look like it’s been adapted:


Moving on to Zip’s Liquor from Anaheim — and a mystery sign right behind it:


The countless times I’ve been to Long Beach and I never noticed Don’s.  That mottled, faded paint really gives this sign character.  If this was repainted all pretty, it would ruin it, no?


One of the high points of the day was my visit to Back in the Day Classics in Carson:

The place has a big parking filled with incredible restored cars — but that’s really not my thing.  I had actually hit the brakes a couple of years ago to shoot a Flintstones car.  But I never knew about the treasures inside the building.  There’s all sorts of candy machines, bicycles, toys, etc.  All sorts of Americana… and loads of neon signs.

My visit was actually prompted by an email that they sent to me a few weeks ago asking for info about “Harbie” (Harbor gas station) statues.  Piecing together the clues, it sounds like the statues came from Camperland in Garden Grove.  There were five statues there.  Just two of them were on display until they disappeared around 2011.  Three of the statues had already been sold before Back in the Day got these two.  At some point, they had been repainted.  More examples & info about these statues at my page here:

Both statues were perched in the rafters so I couldn’t get a straight shot:


Before I found the Harbies, I was blown away by this incredible nine foot tall Pep Boys statue.  It can be yours for $27,000.   The paint was completely faded away after sitting in a backyard in Lakewood for 10 years.  This page shows what the statue looked like before Back to the Classics had it restored:{50E86F25-2F70-4833-B5AA-292888AF2602}


But I know, you want to see the signs.  First, I must thank Brianna who gave me the royal tour.  Just 20 years old and she really knows her stuff.  Whatever they’re paying her is not enough!

I took loads of photos here and I’m only posting a few.  Inventory is constantly changing so some of these might be gone by next month with new beauties replacing them.  This Hotpoint Appliance sign is selling for $3,600:


The Navajo Lodge sign is going for $4,750:


The sign on top is modern and selling for a mere $435.  The bottom sign has got to be vintage.  I don’t see it listed at their website:


The Mordica Motors sign is cool.  But the Western Union sign is way cooler, in my opinion, because of its age and rarity.  This sign was lit with internal bulbs.  The steel panels are perforated with translucent opal glass plates behind each letter.  The Mordica sign is selling for $4,250.  I don’t know the price of the Western Union sign (not listed at the website):


I don’t know what location this Boy’s Big Boy came from — but it’s “real” (not a reproduction).  The sign is 92 inches in diameter and going for $25,000:


The Sundries sign is listed at $1,050.  The Lincoln sign is going for $15,200:


The Kaiser sign is listed at $8,500.


This Pure Oil gas station sign is a doozie.  The zigzag rings flash separately and each letter lit sequentially. The price is $12,850:


This fancy Pennzoil sign is selling for $6,295.  I don’t see the two signs below it listed at the website:


There are lots of clocks for sale.  This old octagon was one of my favorites.  It’s going for $2,700:


This sign has really nice hand painting.  This sign came from the Los Angeles area.  It was installed on top of the main text sign and revolved.  The neon was added by Back to the Classics during the sign’s restoration.  Although I’m not a fan of adding neon to signs that didn’t have it originally, I’ll admit it’s a nice touch here and probably really improves its marketability.   The asking price is $4,995:


Here’s a close-up of the tacos, unlit:


I hope you enjoyed the sampling of photos from this weekend.  I’ll be taking a break from my hellish map project (just Mid-Century Buildings & Signs sections to go) to add these approximately 200 photos to the site.

The dogs and I will be back on the road soon for the Memorial Day three-day weekend.  We’ll be up in the S.F. Bay area then.

Oh — and don’t forget, a couple dozen other photos from this weekend over at Flickr:

Take care,


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