Day 20: Moving on to Memphis

So, somehow my numbering got off and I posted two Day 16s.  Ah well.  So, I’m skipping from Day 18 to 20.  This day started off rough:  super dark & cloudy.  I napped and waited.  And waited.  So, it was a low volume day.  However, most of the trip I got very lucky with the sun.

I finished up the Mississippi shots despite the situation.  I’ll just have to go back another time to reshoot and do the subjects justice.  For example, here’s the former Greyhound station in Clarksdale, MS.  Drab as hell but here you go:

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When I finally gave up and got to Memphis in the late morning, it was more of the same (cloudy and looking like rain).  So, I got set up at a Starbucks figuring I’d get a jump stop on the photoshopping for this trip’s photos and call it a day.  But not five minutes later, the sun came out and stayed out.  I raced on outta there and got to work.  The rest of this post’s photos will all be from Memphis.

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Modern but nice:

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I don’t remember it being 100.  But it could have been!

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This one is modern:

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Caged!  (behind chicken wire)

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The Dan West Garden Center gets worse each time I see it.  I don’t mind the rusting panels but the dwindling tubing on top is very sad.  Believe it or not, this is what the sign looked like originally.  Only a couple of tulips and some of the watering farmer’s/gardeners’ torso remain now:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/69308082@N02/6366716803/

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The top of the White Station Tower originally had a sign for the U-P (Union Planers) Bank.  Built in 1965, that UFO on top was a revolving restaurant.  Now, it’s just stationary office space.  The i-bank (Independent Bank) lettering is very recent (but still cool).

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This next sign came from “Skateland” in Memphis  which closed after a fire in 2006.  The big sign with the giant skate is still on the repurposed building.  This sign came from the side of the building.  It’s now installed over the Railgarten stage.  For more about Skateland and other skating signs from around the country, see this page at my website:
http://www.roadarch.com/sca/skating.html

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Let’s wrap up with this sign inside the Young Avenue Deli.  I would drive six hours to shoot one of these rare and special Federal Electric, pre-neon modular signs.  For more about them, see this page at my website:
http://www.roadarch.com/sca/federal.html

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I’ll be back next weekend with another post.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 18: Another Day in Mississippi

This was the last full day of Mississippi.  Soon to be followed by Memphis and Arkansas.

Let’s start with a couple in West Point.  A nice ghost sign:

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A fun saguaro sign.  This place has been here since 1993 but the sign might pre-date that.  I looks like neon tubing holes on the cactus:

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This directional sign in Tupelo is from the early 1950s:

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This one in Tupelo has an unusual obelisk shape.  You don’t see the mini pyramid on top of the sign from this angle:

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Let’s take a break from the signs and post some of my other favorite subjects which, if you didn’t know, I document just as thoroughly as signs at my website (2500+ pages of buildings, statues, and, yes, signs):
http://www.roadarch.com/

How about this steer statue at Mi Toro Mexican Restaurant in Booneville.  You’ll find a hundreds of other animal statues in this section:
http://www.roadarch.com/critters/1.html

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These cigar store type Indians are in Tupelo.  Do you like Indian statues?  I’ve got four pages of them here:
http://www.roadarch.com/giants/indians.html
and then there are the so-called “Muffler Men” type here:
http://www.roadarch.com/giants/ifindians.html

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How about a mid-century bank in New Albany?  If you like mid-century buildings, you’ll want to set aside a good chunk of time for this section (the biggest one at my website):
http://www.roadarch.com/modarch/main.html

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This former classic Cities Service gas station is in Aberdeen.  I’ve got over 5,000 photos of gas stations at my website.  Here’s the Mississippi Cities Service section:
http://www.roadarch.com/gas/mscities.html

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A sad walled-up canopy on this classic Sinclair station in Booneville.  There are still hundreds of these scattered around the country.  No state has more of them than Texas:
http://www.roadarch.com/gas/txsinclair.html

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Let’s wrap up with two more signs.  This one in Booneville:

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And this one in Pontotoc.  Unfortunately, the vertical blade portion of this sign has been painted over and the porcelain could use a scrub.  There are only a handful of these mass-produced Elgin Watches jewelry store signs left on display around the country:

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I’ll be back this weekend with more.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 17: More Mississippi

It was a crappy cloudy day but I shot what I could.  I pulled over and waited for a few rays of sun.  I took a nap when things looked really bad.  So, pardon the blah backgrounds and lack of sun-reflecting panels.

Let’s start in Belzoni — “SHOP” is probably original but “Thrift” most likely not.  Gorgeous shape:

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Some cuteness from Belzoni (Catfish Capitol of the World) with a couple of examples of their Catfish on Parade art project.  In front of the firehouse:

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and a farmer:

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No paint left — this “BILLIARDS” sign from Leland:

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From Greenville.  The streamline building was blocked by a big parked tractor trailer but I got the nice letters on the corner:

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More from Greenville.  The building for this shoe store is gone now but this terrazzo entrance apron remains:

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Check out the grayness behind this Riverbelle Lanes/Gray’s Lanes sign.  Yeah, that was coming my way:

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Moving on to Greenwood.  This sign went up sometime after 2013.  The sign that was there before that had a more boring, vertical shape:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bradkatie/466786678/

According to one article, the sign has “been in family since the 1930s”.  But this is obviously a recent replica-looking sign.  So, I assume there was a sign like this originally at this location.  And maybe the “family” has the original somewhere?

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Also in Greenwood.  I don’t understand the vertical neon tubing over “Collins.”  There are tubing holes that would have made for bends for each letter originally.  I guess someone went cheap & simple at some point just to get some light on the sign.  I love the two hand-painted shoes on the lower panel:

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One more from Greenwood. I don’t normally include ghost signs but this one is nice with Coca-Cola’s “Sprite Boy” peeking from behind a Coke bottle.  I hope the city never repaints this one which is the current awful trend.  I don’t know if that “5/56” on the lower right is an indicator of when this was originally painted.

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This sign is installed in the parking lot at the Pizza Inn in Winona.  I don’t know if this gas company was originally on this property of the owner is just displaying the sign there and it was installed somewhere else previously:

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The last photo for this post — these stars top the University Motel sign in Starkville:

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I’m off to post the entire day’s worth of dreary photos at my website.  If you haven’t been over to my Flickr account lately, there are more signs from today and earlier in this trip:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 16: Mucho Mississippi

Since my last post, I got all of the Louisiana photos up at my website.  So, if you’re interested, now might be a good time to check out the mid-century modern, signs, gas stations, theatres, etc. sections.   Moving on to the bulk of the Mississippi photos now.  I think there are about four days worth before I headed on to Memphis & Arkansas.  Day 16 was very prolific — so let’s get to it.

This Barq’s root beer sign is next door to the Alamo Theatre in Jackson:

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This one is in Canton:

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This one is in Carthage.  It’s either modern or a replica:

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This one is in Philadelphia:

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This one is in Decatur.  The store opened in 1959.  But this sign is only about 10 years old or so.  It was not based on a previous sign.  I don’t know if Wheeler was originally a Rexall but, if not, the navy and orange are certainly a nod to that chain:

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Here’s a closed Rexall in Newton.  The interior still has nice dark wood shelving units and such.  Very sad.  Maybe it will find some miraculous restaurant reuse and the interior will be preserved.

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A bunch of signs now from Meridian:

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The Temple Theatre architecture is magnificently preserved… but how I hate it when these theaters mess with their marquees and add that moving digital crap:

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You have to shoot this one from across the street because of the roof and the trees:

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This sign is supposedly from the 1930s or so.  It was taken down in 1999 during the building’s restoration and forgotten about.  It was sold at auction and eventually returned to the restaurant:

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A sad, paintless “globie” (my name for these mass-produced, flashing fiberglass balls).  For examples in better shape, see my website here:
http://www.roadarch.com/sca/roto3.html#Corral

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A couple more from Meridian:

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This former truck stop sign has been banged up in recent years.  It’s mounted so high that I don’t know how that arrow could have been bent like this.  You can see the panel in back with the still intact arrow:

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Let’s close with this one from De Kalb.  I love any and all signs with flames.  I found another one Dowdle sign just like this elsewhere in Mississippi so there might have been more than two of these:

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Back with another post next weekend or maybe sooner.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 16: Last of Louisiana and on to Mississippi

We’re at the halfway point in this trip.  My goal is to get all these posts and the thousands of photos up at my website by November.

Let’s start off in Minden, LA.  This sign is on the side of a building.  I’m assuming there was originally a hardware store around front:

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There are two of these signs on this building — one at the two entrances (the downtown has two-one way business streets).

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This one is in Dixie Inn, LA:

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At the long-closed Joy Theatre in Arcadia, LA:

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Moving on to Monroe, LA.  These two are at the former Johnson Bros. Barber Shop:

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Also in Monroe — a former Howard Johnson’s sign:

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This one in Bastrop, LA:

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Seligman’s Furniture was established in 1897.  The store has been operating at this building in Bastrop since 1928.

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This one is in Tallulah, LA:

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Heading on to Mississippi – this is in Vicksburg:

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Stopping for the day in Jackson, MS.  These two are at the main and back entrances.

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I’ll be back next weekend with another post.

Happy Trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 15: Lots of Louisiana

This was a big day of shooting with well over 100 stops.  Let’s start out in Alexandria.  The Hotel Bentley was built from 1907-1908.  I don’t know when the sign was built but the design is late 1940s.  However, to be persnickety, I think the one that’s there now is a replica.  This undated postcard shows the same style sign but looks to be white with dark letters.  True, it might have been artistic liberty (postcard illustrators were not worried too much about accuracy).  As you probably know, most very old hotels changed their names from Hotel X to X Hotel at some point.  Or sometimes used the two interchangeably.

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I’m always shocked to see that the Happy Trails Lounge sign is still there.  I don’t know if that was the original name.  Looks like there was a cocktail glass in the middle of that black paint.  But that might not be the original layer of paint.

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The Weiss & Goldring’s men’s store sign was originally located downtown (yes, Desoto & 3rd Sts. as shown at the bottom).  It was then moved with the store when they moved to this mall location:

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Moving on to Shreveport.  Mall St. Vincent opened in 1976.  Like many malls around the country, the party is over.  Sears left last year and it looks like the smaller shops are barely getting by.  Anyhow.  Pretty letters on this sign:

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From Haughton — “funky funky but chic”:

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On to Bossier City for awhile.  These two signs are probably not that old but still worthy of sharing.  One pole sign, one building sign:

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Inside the Holiday Lanes: the undulating mid-century roof is visible from the interior as well.  Although there are lots of flashy graphic scoreboards and such, I’m glad for these giant pins.  I was also happy to see the giant place packed with people.  A ceiling “fixture”:

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And these cool guys:

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A former gas station, then later this bar (now closed):

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I’ve got nothing but my imagination (not a damned thing on-line) but I would imagine the letters had neon originally and there must have been plastic balls or something on the tips of the poles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this sign was designed by Warren Milks (more about him later).  he liked offset letters and poles quite a lot.

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According to the desk person at Party Central, this sign was installed originally installed at Casino Magic in the late 1990s.  The casino closed in 2002 and the sign found its way here sometime after that:

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OK — so who is Warren Milks?  Well, he’s the guy that designed and produced about 234 Roto-Spheres — those crazy, giant, spinning neon “sputniks”.  The history and all the survivors at my website here:
http://www.roadarch.com/sca/roto.html

If you’ve got a few minutes, you won’t want to miss these two little videos that I put together with the Super 8 movies that Warren shot and loaned to me.  Bossier City was “mini Las Vegas” at the time with casinos and booming businesses.  Warren built all the “nice” signs in town.  All of this footage was shot in Bossier:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leuut7nITdI

The sign on the left advertised for his sign shop “NESCO” on Texas Avenue.  If you study the videos closely, you’ll see a Turn-Star above the “NESCO” panel lit in neon.  The building on the right wasn’t there back in the 1960s:

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Just to the right of that is what was the sign shop.  The big open door is the bigger part of the shop where his employees (two or three) worked on the larger signs.  The smaller door and window led to the office and smaller shop.

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The second video starts off with the the super impressive Rovana Restaurant sign shown below (although now not as impressive without the hanging and moving letters).  Warren’s shop and sign are visible in the distance under the steel sign:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L6-zyxxFl0

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A couple more signs to close out this post.  The Shotz Lounge has these nice arrows above a boring plastic box panel.  Each arrow would have had a neon outline and I would assume that they flashed, maybe even sequentially:

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Last one — from Shreveport.  Plastic signs don’t get no respect and this is certainly a nice one.  Sign tag at the bottom is for Gulf Industries.  This is an example of a vacuum form sign.  A sheet of plastic was laid on top of a mold and a vacuum pulled the plastic over the mold.  Then the panels were painted.  Much cooler than the flat panels typically produced today.

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That’s a wrap.  I have a lot of photos to prep and add to my website.  I’ll be back a a few days with more goodies from Louisiana and Mississippi.  And… lots more “nicer” signs & stuff uploaded from Day 15 at Flickr earlier today:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 14: Moving on to Mississippi

It was kind of a cloudy day with lots of miles.  Not a big day for sign shooting but I think I’ve got enough for a reasonable post here.

From Laurel, MS — a combo sign with some corrugated plastic and neon:

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Another one from Laurel.  A modern Shipley Donuts sign which has been adapted with some super tacky plastic.  It looks more like a bagel to me:

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From Hattiesburg — this one is not aging gracefully.  The rust is winning:

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Another one from Hattiesburg.  I waited and waiting but the sun was not cooperating.

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How about a couple of buildings?  This one in Brookhaven:

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This one is in Bude:

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A little trip across the border into Louisiana — these two signs are in St. Francisville:

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Back to Mississippi — in Liberty.  I can never get enough Rexall signs.  If you can’t either, I’ve got loads of them at my website here:
http://www.roadarch.com/signs/rex.html

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I’ll be back with another post in a few days once I get this little batch of about 100 photos up at my website.  More photos from this trip over at Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 13: A little more Florida Panhandle & on to Alabama

I got up most of the Florida Panhandle photos at my website.  So, I’m taking a break to get this post up midweek.

From Tallahassee, FL — a front yard with whales and dolphins:

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And on to Alabama.  This sign is in Dothan:

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Two more signs from Dothan — a still operating TV station:

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and a long-neglected radio sign:

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From Jackson, AL:

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And now — a sampling from the incredible sign display in downtown Abbeville, AL.  One man’s collection is displayed on the main street and inside the faux storefronts of non-operating businesses that serve as storage space.

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And if you make it to Abbeville, you’ll want to stop in at Huggin’ Molly’s — a restaurant with a soda fountain, more signs & lots of antiquey stuff:
https://www.hugginmollys.com/

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I’ll be back this weekend with a post of Mississippi goodies.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 12: Florida Panhandle

It wasn’t a big day for shooting signs so I’m going to veer off course a bit in this post to include some other things that I cover at my website (statues & buildings).  But let’s start with this sign in Crestview, FL — a delicious mixed media mash-up of plastic and neon and shapes:

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I diverted over the border to Florala, AL to shoot a gas station and came upon this novel column cluster.  A plaque indicated that they are all that’s left of the Covington County High School which was built in 1914 and demolished in 1963:

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In Miramar Beach, I went looking for the World’s Largest Fishing Lure at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.  Turned out it had been gone for years but I did come across this fiberglass beauty.  I believe this is a swordfish:

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This faux lighthouse in Panama City Beach was once the little office for Beacon Golf, a mini-golf place.  It later served as a BBQ joint.  Now, it’s still well cared for and serving as an office for a scooter rental business.  If you’re into faux lighthouses, I’ve got loads of them at my website here:
http://www.roadarch.com/mim/lighthouses.html

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The sadness is almost overcome by the bright paint.  This cave-like structure was built for Jungle Land in Panama City Beach in the 1960s.  There were gators, a waterfall, a fake volcano and the like.  It closed in the late 1980s and then operated as Alvin’s Magic Mountain Mall and then Alvin’s Island Tropical Department Store — basically, a gift shop with beach stuff, souvenirs, doo-dads & maybe some tiki-ish stuff.  Evidently, Alvin’s closed when Hurricane Michael hit in October 2018 and it remains closed.  I stepped over the police tape for a few shots.  No signs of damage though which leaves me worried that this building might be endangered.  Lots of building & growth in PCB right now.

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I present the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ship in Panama City.  It was modeled after the Titanic and built in 2006.  The ship had a more somber black & grey paint job originally.  Sometime around 2016, it got this prettier repaint:

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The Bowlarama Lanes in Panama City remains closed after Michael.  The sign really took a hit:

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There was lots of post-Michael devastation in Panama City.  This sign was still intact.  The letters originally had neon as evidenced in this postcard:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/edge_and_corner_wear/16464018423


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The Sombrero Mexican Restaurant remains closed and it seems unlikely that it will reopen.  The owners found out that their insurance policy didn’t cover wind damage from hurricanes.  So, they are on their own.  The bent over rooftop sign is rather symbolic:

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Sorry to end on a downer…  but I’ll be back soon once I get a big batch of Florida stuff at my website.  In the meantime, there are lots of more cheerful photos from Day 12 up at my Flickr account:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

 

Day 11: Coastal MS & AL with a bit of FL

I got all the New Orleans stuff up at my website this week from Day 10.  There will be lots more Louisiana later in the trip.  We’re hugging the Gulf Coast for the next couple of days.  More than 200 photos to crop, tweak, upload and put in their appropriate places a the website from Day 11. So, I’ll probably only get  this one blog post up this weekend and get to work.

Let’s start with with one in downtown Ocean Springs, MS.  Neon only on one side, presumably since this side faces oncoming traffic:

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This one in Moss Point, MS is on top of the Moss Point Express gas station sign.  It’s probably a reference to the local high school mascot (Moss Point Tigers).

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Moving on to Mobile, AL:

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Not as nice as the similar Kelly’s Cleaners neon hanger sign but still great:

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There are more than a handful of neon signs in downtown Mobile.  I don’t know the age of these but the OK Bicycle sign might be adapted.  The Taqueria sign looks pretty modern:

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This one is surely vintage — probably 1950s:

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Naman’s Department Store opened in 1940.  This sign is much later — looks maybe 1960s? And that font is kinda lame and modern.  So, I’m thinking  maybe redone at some point.  Still lovely though:

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and one more from Mobile — a nice little terrazzo entrance:

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From Spanish Fort, AL.  This must be a modern sign but, wow, that’s a lotta neon!  I can only find photos of it with a few bits lit at night — or more lit but super blurry.  So, I’m skeptical that it’s operating properly at this point and I don’t know if any of that tubing was animated.

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One of my favorite memories from this trip was the Foamhenge (yes, Mark Cline built the first one in Virginia) in Elberta, AL.  I let the dogs rip around and they had a great time running around the columns even though it was close to 100 degrees.  In this photo foreground, Grizzie is rolling in god-knows-what and Nik is sniffing out something directly in the background behind him.  I have no idea where the two girls were at that moment but I know they were having a blast.

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Last one for this post — officially in Florida panhandle — this one from the recently restored Rex Theatre in Pensacola:

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Back with more next week!

dj & the dogs