Day 29 & 30: Finishing up Florida

This is where things went all wrong weather-wise. The rain started in the morning and hardly let up. I finally gave up on Miami & southern Florida and moved north. Checking the weather forecasts on my phone, there was nowhere else to go really. Rain everywhere in northern FL, and all of Georgia & Alabama. I tried to be patient but with only a few days of vacay left before I had to get back to work at home, I just set aside all the pages of stuff that I had intended to shoot. Boo-hoo. I made the decision to blow off the big 2021 trip to Wyoming, Montana, etc. and come back to finish up what I had to give up on this time. Some people continue to shoot in dark grey & rain but I’ve long gotten over that. It only means crappy photos that you have to reshoot. It seems a big waste of gas money although there’s always the risk that when you return what you wanted to shoot will be gone.

Since very few photos from these two days, I’m combining into one blog post. Let’s start with these two modern neon/plastic combo signs in Stuart which are next door neighbors. I assume the same business owner:

From Del’s Freez (originally a Tastee-Freez) in Melbourne. This sign has been repaired a number of times but they are still using a neon outline instead of cheap & tacky LED:

Miserable weather in Rockledge. But this orange stand at Harvey’s Groves has been closed for years. Better shoot this guy now! He originally revolved.

Let’s take a little break from signs. Here’s a nice midcentury bank in Indiatlantic. The floating mushroom canopy is installed in the courtyard behind the bank and in front and the office building behind it:

These giant conch and clam shells were installed in front of the Shell Bazaar in Port St. Lucie in 1955:

This lonely screentower from 1949 is all that remains of the Fort Pierce Drive-in (in Fort Pierce):

These dolphins are installed in front of Sandy’s Furniture in Vero Beach. If dolphins are your thing, I’ve got a bunch over at my website here:

A 13-foot-tall Space Shuttle replica in Melbourne at the Space Coast Stadium:

OK — let’s wrap up with some signs — and moving on to dreary Georgia. These are from Valdosta:

The current reviews of this motel are not so “jolly” and the rates have been updated over the years (1960s-ish postcards show it as “$8 up” and later “$9.88 up”):

I don’t know what this next-door-neighbor sign advertised for originally. But it’s last gasp was for the Quality Inn. The “Quality” letters are gone now but the motel is still operating. I wish I could find a postcard for this one. I’d love to know what those tall poles supported (plastic ballies or ???):

Last one — which I had to shoot from about 1 mile away to get the sunny side which is only visible over the roof. Hence, the blur. These Martinizing Cleaners signs were mass-produced but there are only a handful left. There’s no hope of this one being restored since the cleaners itself is long gone.

More soon from Georgia & Alabama.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

from the last day in Florida — Orbie on the left was so little then. He’s a beefcake now.

Day 28: Miami & Miami Beach

This was a big shooting day. Mostly buildings (hundreds of mcm/Deco stops) but a few signs here and there.

This electronic clock is a real turn-on to me. Originally installed for the Miami Beach Federal Savings & Loan — sorry you can’t see because of the glare but it’s still operating, alternating between time and temp. Here’s a vintage pcard showing the bldg which I believe was built in 1956:

Some stuff from Miami Beach:

Here’s a nice Art Deco detail from the Marlin Hotel:

This still-operating Publix supermarket is from 1962 and still has the “Where Shopping Is A Pleasure” neon lettering:

Originally a Burdine’s department store — became a Macy’s but still has the company’s neon brand name on the building:

This sign was built in 2012 during the restoration of The Regent Hotel and Cocktail Club as a replica of the original from 1941:

Here’s a detail from the former Nolan-Peters “Cadillac Salon” which had been covered up since the 1940s. It was restored in 2020:

Let’s wrap up with this neon two-fer from 1948:

That’s it for now. Don’t forget the other photos over at Flickr:

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 27: Miami

A busy day in mostly good sun. It seems like a lot of work to have to change the numbers every year:

The Pink Pussycat Lounge:

Yeah, it’s that kinda place:

This one was originally installed in 1959 but it’s been restored a number of times:

There are no neon Reddy Kilowatt signs in Florida — but this company has two locations with images (this painted sign and a plasticized version). More Reddy signs at my website here:

This skeleton sign inside (and two neon signs outside):

The Palacio Inn Motel was built in 1955 as the Casa-Lu Motel. It later became the Fantasy Inn Motel. And then around 2014 it took on this name and the sign was reworked a third time.

The original building is pretty fun also:

This place was built in 1952 as the Motel Dorsett. It changed names a few times after that. It took on this name last year and these signs were installed (there’s a pink version on the other side):

The Sinbad Motel was built in 1953. That chopped off metal projection on the roof originally had a seagull. The gull was destroyed in a hurricane and then a sputnik style Neo Lectra was installed after that. That was also destroyed by another hurricane but the steel arm remains.

One more for this post. The Vagabond Motel was also built in 1953. This sign was long gone but recreated during a 2014 renovation:

That’s a wrap for now. The next post will feature some Miami Beach.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Days 25 and 26: Florida Keys (Key Largo to Miami)

Day 25 was fine with lots of sun. But then my luck was about to change. Day 26 was nasty. Mostly rain and grey, so, very little shooting. Therefore, I’m lumping these two days together.

Let’s start with a few items from Islamorada. Before/after — the Blue Fin sign neon is gone, all plastic & LED now. In the establishment’s defense, countless hurricanes have hit this sign between my 2009 and 2020 photos:

I’m sure the Islander sign has required a bunch of maintenance after the same hurricanes. It’s looking great:

The painted plywood mermaid at the Lorelei restaurant has been painted a few times between these 2009 and 2020 photos. Her hair has grown past her boobs for the first time:

There are not a lot of signs in The Keys but I had plenty of fish, sharks, dolphins, and shells to shoot. The Theatre of the Sea shell fountain is looking great:

Moving on to Marathon. This sign is now LED rope instead of neon tubing (2009 vs. 2020):

Some signs from Key West:

The Blue Marlin hasn’t changed all that much since this 1960s postcard:

Well, the fish is more modern art now — I think that had been missing for years though:

The marlin on top of the sign is a replacement and the wave background on the Blue Marlin panel is gone… but hey:

This sign was much nicer until recently — it was brown and gold and advertised for the Southern Cross Hotel –

Last one for this post — the Shorty’s Market sign is still looking great. I believe this sign is from 1968:

Back soon with stuff from Miami.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 24: More Florida (Port Charlotte to Key Largo)

Another sunny & productive day. All that will change in a couple of days. Not many signs on the schedule so I’ll include some other stuff.

This little guy is modern but still damned cute with booze and torches. In Fort Myers Beach:

Gator Park is technically in Miami but on the very edge of the Everglades:

This terrazzo apron is in Homestead. Royal Castle is long gone but I moved the rubber mat out of the way to take this picture. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Well, I am.

In Fort Myers – originally Franklin Hardware. The glass block, vitrolite tiles, and display windows miraculously still there:

One of the very rare Dairy Queens A-frame buildings which, I believe, were only built in Florida. This one in Port Charlotte is a little squattier than the others:

Another former Dairy Queen A-frame – this one in Bonita Springs:

This modern wrench sign is in Fort Myers.

This guy was installed in Fort Myers when the Bamboo Inn opened in 1961. He’s about five feet tall. The business is now a nightclub (“Buddha LIVE”) and, just a few weeks ago, the statue was painted red which has the locals freaked out. The owner will probably give in and paint him gold again soon.

This buzzard in Key Largo was in rough shape when I shot him in 2009. He was the mascot and directional head-turner on Highway 1 for Buzzard’s Roost Grill & Pub:

And then he disappeared. But I was relieved to find out he’d been saved, restored, and moved to the patio:

I’ll be back with more goodies in a few days — next batch includes stuff from The Keys.

Happy Trails (and Happy 2021!),
dj & the dogs

Day 23 More Florida (Bartow to Port Charlotte)

Another good weather day with loads of photos. Let’s start with a few shots from Lakeland:

The shady side of the street — on my reshoot list:

One of the most famous signs in Florida. The neon was replaced with LED earlier this year but hey.

Delightful — from the Citrus Place in Terra Ceia:

Some shots from Sarasota:

Love the awning as much as the piano-shaped sign:

Long closed:

In North Port:

… and the motel’s wonderful mushroom canopies:

I’ve got Kress buildings from all over the country at my website:

This detail from Sarasota:

and this detail from Lakeland:

And lastly, from Ruskin — the sign over this ticket booth has to be modern but still so sweet:

Don’t forget that the higher quality photos & subjects are not posted here — check out those over at Flickr:

This blog has always been intended for the “lesser” things on these trips, most of which don’t rate inclusion at the website. I’ve got about 10 more days to go for this trip. Be back soon….

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 22: More Florida (Tampa to Bartow)

Merry Christmas! What else would I be doing for the holiday (and my birthday) but working on my website and other related stuff.

Let’s start with a bunch of signs from Lakeland. The best part of this Sunset Motel sign was the giant sun panel on top which was removed in 2011. If you never knew that was missing, this is still pretty nice:

The Reececliff Restaurant opened in 1934 and is still operating. This sign could be from then but I’m guessing more likely 1940s:

Love this one — also still operating. The panels had been repainted just two months before I took this photo:

The panels and paint colors have changed over the years. Originally a used car dealer, I believe from the late 1960s:

The Luell Motel sign was obviously all neon originally — you can see the tubing holes on the block letters:

The Silver Moon Drive-in from 1948 — yes! — still operating. The structure on the left is the backside of one of the two screentowers:

Moving on to Tampa. This sign looks very old but with modern panels and bulbs slapped on top (notice the Deco-ish details peeking out at the top beneath “Cafe”):

These Greyhound bus signs were everywhere (early 1960s?) but only a handful are left now. Part of the reason is that Greyhound always takes their signs down when they close their stations. For more bus station buildings and signs, see my website:

Probably not the original colors but I can’t find any vintage postcards to indicate what it might have looked like:

The Gem Box Jewelers sign is pretty far gone and I’m worried it will disappear one of these days. It sill has the Gruen Watches clock at the bottom:

This sign in Canton, MS shows you what this sign would have looked like originally. There is only one other like this that I know of (Willoughby, OH):

Let’s end this post with this one from Lake Wales — the larger of two entrance signs:

Happy trails (and Happy New Year!),

dj & the dogs

Day 21: More Florida (St. Petersburg & Tampa)

This was mostly a good weather day and I pounded through more than 100 stops.

Let’s start with some things in St. Petersburg:

This building was built for Tipton’s TV in the early 1960s:

Perhaps you are familiar with Twistee Treat buildings, or maybe not. They originated in North Fort Myers, FL in 1982. About 90 of them were produced after that. Since they are modular fiberglass, many were transported to other states. The company folded in 1990. In 2010, an Orlando company revived the chain and began producing new buildings which are very similar. So, how do you tell the old ones from the new ones? The two most obvious give-aways: the sides of the new cones are straighter and the counters in front of the windows are separate add-ons. For all the locations and the full story, see my website here:

Here’s a vintage location in Zephyrhills – note the singular, built-in counter:

There are four Twistee Treat locations in Tampa: one vintage and three modern. This is one of the modern ones – note the straighter sides and the 3 little counters. Also, note the difference in the ice cream cone that is substituted for the “I” in “TWISTEE”:

More from Tampa. I waited for sun but gave up. The octagonal clock appears to be original.

The Peter O. Knight Airport:

This adorable car sign was still animated and lit at night when I took this photo in 2009. How sweet is the sequential steam from the radiator and the exhaust smoke. I think the tires were also sequentially lit:

The neon was removed around 2011. And then around 2015, these ugly panels were installed. I’m kind of hoping that these flimsy panels were laid right on top of the porcelain with cheap glue so that maybe, just maybe, someday, someone with money and taste will restore the sign. If you like car signs, I’ve got a bunch here:

Here are a few more signs from St. Petersburg.

From blurry postcards, it appears that the peacock, metal details, and sign were there in the 1930s:

I believe there’s only one other McCrory’s blade sign that has survived (in Galveston, TX). I’ve got a lot of McCrory’s buildings in the department store section at my website here:

Let’s wrap up with two more signs from St. Petersburg:

One of the best signs in town but getting a little skanky looking now with the faded paint. I don’t think it’s lit anymore (note broken tubing):

I’ll be back in a few days with another post.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs (a sunset hike at home last week)

Day 20: More Florida (Clearwater to St. Petersburg)

Fantastic weather and loads of great photos. I’ll focus on some signs for this post. Let’s start with this guy in South Pasadena at the Ten Pin Lanes:

From Gulfport:

In Madeira Beach:

A couple of signs in St. Pete Beach:


From Clearwater Beach:

Let’s wrap up this post with a few shots from St. Petersburg:

A two-fer at a rare, still operating Rayco:

and lastly, for the rusty/crusty lovers among you:

I’ve got about 100 other photos to add to the website but I think I can muster up another post next weekend. In the meantime, don’t forget there are other photos over at my Flickr account:

Happy trails!
dj & the dogs

Speaking of trails… here’s a photo from today of my gang from today’s hike on the Shady Dell Trail in Ojai, CA:

Day 19: More Florida (Leesburg to Clearwater)

Some rain, some clouds, some sun. Lots of fun stuff!

Let’s start with this special guy in Winter Garden. A miniaturized RV on top of a vacuum form sign. Includes doorknobs, skirting, and what looks like functioning doors!

This sign in Clermont started out, in probably the 1960s, advertising for the Crest Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge. It read “Crest” on the top panel and “Restaurant” on the lower panel sans cocktail glasses. The crest panel was black with its text panel in yellow; the restaurant & cocktail panels were red. Later, the lower panels were painted light blue. Around 2009, the text was reworked, glasses added, and the panels were painted green. I think the neon may still be lit:

I was relieved to see the half-dino from the ~1970s (never finished) was still there in Brooksville — more about this guy and other Florida dinosaurs at my website here:

This incredible statue display in Gotha is in a residential area: zebras, lions, elephants, a hand with a finger pointing upward, Roman soldiers, and horses. More about this place at my website here:

This giant pencil was installed in Mount Dora in 1980. More pens & pencils at my website here:

Orbit was getting bigger and looking slightly more manly at this point. He’s about nine weeks old in this photo (currently about four months). His feet are still ridiculously big and will probably stay that way.

Built as the Tahitian Motor Lodge in Holiday around 1969. Now the Holiday Hotel & Resort. The roofs are somewhat similar to the A&W “pagoda” (aka “pilgrim hat”) roofs developed in 1965 by Trachte:

Scattered around the property are incredible carved tiki-style statues — more photos at my website here:

Let’s wrap up this post with this beauty at the Showcase of Citrus in Clermont. Eat-it-All ice cream cones have been around since at least the 1960s, maybe the 1950s. From the weathering & sides of the can, I think this sign is from that era but it might have been built much later & painted with the brand:

A four-day weekend at home so you will be hearing again from me soon enough.

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Trails,
dj & the dogs