Sign Updates

The last section at my website that I comb for updates with be the Signs section.  But in going through the SCA article section, I found lots of bad news pertaining to signs.  Kleenex handy?

The Blue Ribbon Shoe Service store and sign in Grants Pass, OR are gone:


This one in Memphis, TN — yep, the business and sign are now gone:



The Filling Station sign in Savanna, IL is gone.  Originally, a mechanical waving sign.  It was painted differently on both sides:



This motorized sign in Willow Springs, MO was installed at the long-closed Hillbilly Store.  It was down to one arm in 2016.  The entire sign is gone now:


This Original Pancake House sign and location in Seattle were built around 2001.  A very nice animated neon sign though.  By last year, the building and sign were gone.



The La Frite sign in Sherman Oaks, CA is also gone now:


The Skate Inn in Tallahassee, FL closed in 2017.   And, yep, this sign is gone now:

This Neo-Lectra in Elkhart, IN is gone, too:



This sign in Denton, TX is gone:


It was “updated” (ugh) with this crap:


And last heartbreak for this post… the former Pee Wee Pizza sign in San Leandro, CA.  Here’s what the sign looked like in 2008:

Papa John’s moved in in 2010.  The text sign was adapted with their name on the top panel with new neon.  The chef’s neon was removed at that point:

And then, by 2017, Papa John’s decided to completely ruin the sign.  Here’s how it looks now, from Google Street View.  All backlit plastic slapped onto the panels and the chef obliterated with the stupid phone number disk:

OK — that’s enough for now.  I’m happy to say the devastation to the SCA signs section has been minor.  Super interesting signs await you here:

Society for Commercial Archeology Journal Article Companion Pages

I’ll be back tomorrow with the Gas Stations section (losses & classy transformations).



Updates: Statues & Eateries

Let’s talk Statues.  One of my favorite subjects, if not yours.  Here are some wonderful things now missing from our public landscapes.

The seven-foot-tall Owl in Orem, UT was built in 2011 for a crepe-focused restaurant.   My photo from 2014.  Missing in 2018.  I hope he’s safe somewhere:



The funky bucking bull with the taxidermy face in Kanab, UT is gone now, too.  So is the restaurant it was installed in front of:



The International Fiberglass “Giant Man” (IF’s name — nicknamed “Muffler Men” in the 1990s) in Compton, CA disappeared last year.  No one, not even Joel, knows where he is:



The Giant Waitress in Flint, MI which stood on top of the sign at the Colonial Coney Island & Family Restaurant from 1978-2014.  She was supposedly put in storage but no one was sure just where:


In July, she resurfaced and was moved on to a private collection.  Better than being destroyed but too bad that she couldn’t a) be public and b) stay in Flint.  This article describes her restoration and other details:



Moving on to the Eateries section at my website.  The Dairy Queen clown sign in Seelyville, IN is gone now.  It seemed inevitable since it appeared to be abandoned for decades.  It was still there in 2013 but gone by last year.  There are only three examples of these waving, mechanical DQ clown signs known to still exist.  Info at my website here:




This Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop in Macomb, IL had been abandoned since around 2007 and is gone now:




The Chocolate Moose in Bloomington, IN moved to the boring building next door and this sweet A-frame walk-up was demolished in 2016:



The Bohemian Cafe in Omaha, NE closed in 2016.  These signs were gone by 2018.  The colorful building remains vacant:



The East Park Restaurant in Ravenna, OH closed around 2014 and was demolished in 2016.  By last year, this sign and the long-closed drive-in canopy and building behind it were gone:

This former Sambo’s sign in Willamina, OR was always a mystery.  There was never a Sambo’s there so it came from someplace else and got reworked.  There are no other Sambo’s or former Sambo’s signs that still have the yellow spike.  This sign disappeared last year:



Lots more signs in the next post.  But if the above subjects appeal to you, check out all the surviving statues & great restaurant buildings that still survive at my website:

Animal Statues

People Statues



Updates: Ship Buildings, Theatres, & Car Dealerships

This is the first of a flurry of blog posts from my winter site updating.  I’ll admit, most of it is bad news but I’ll share it anyway.  The good news is that, so far (I still have the two biggest sections to go), most things are still there.

Let’s start with Ship-Shaped Buildings.

The Dockside building in Morro Bay, CA was demolished in October.  It was built in the 1950s as a fish market.  Never a real boat — just built to look like one. Torn down for new development.  A few “pieces” were saved for the local museum.  Sigh.


Some good news:  the Pirate Ship in Sparks, NV has finally reopened.  I sure thought this one was doomed!  It was built in 1971 as a fish & chips restaurant.  A few other restaurants after that and then closed seemingly for good in 2008.  My photo from 2014:


But, by 2017, thank you Google Street View, reopened as Mariscos El Barco with colorful paint.  A bit crude but the building’s exterior is intact and the sign & crow’s nest are still there and that’s what matters:


Moving on to Theatres.  The Eastwood Theatre in Toledo, OH.  It had fallen on hard times for decades and housed many a church.  My photo here is from 2011:


In 2014, the theatre was on the way to recovery and about to return to showing movies.  By this 2018 GSV photo, the theatre had been painted a garish red and the reader boarded had been replaced with a crappy digital display:


The worst of it is the LED rope which replaced the neon — geez!


The Paris Theatre has one of my fave signs in Portland, OR.  Originally, the Third Avenue Theatre, built in 1890.  The adapted sign still has the old school tin border beading.  I’m guessing the sign from the 1920s or so from the I-shape and border.  Gotta love those scary sign-repair ladders!   It became the Paris Theatre in the 1940s or so and the lettering was changed at the bottom.  I don’t know if the drama masks at the top were original (1920s-ish).  Quite possibly, since it was a vaudeville/live performance theatre, not movie theatre then. This photo is from 2015:


Around 2017, the theatre was renovated and the sign got new paint and neon:


This photo shows a closeup of the sign [credit Robert K. Chin at] – nice job, right?:


The Miller Theatre in Augusta, GA opened in 1938 and closed in 1983.  It looked worse and worse every year despite promises of restoration.  My photo from 2009:



It seemed a goner but, in 2017, the theatre reopened!  The message board marquee, which was originally a manual letter readerboard, is now a scrolling digital graphic thing.  But the neon letters and Art Deco style elements on top of the marquee were kept and restored.  This photo from this article shows what it looks like now:


Moving on to Car Dealerships.  This mid-century modern beauty with neon letters on roof and at left in Graham, TX 2011 is basically no more:


Here’s what happened to it about a year ago:


This is a horrible trend all over the country:  brand dealerships, especially Ford and Chevrolet, are destroying historic, lovely buildings and replacing them with modern horror shows all in the name of consistent corporate branding.  Uff.  Well, at least the Davidson letters were slapped on the building next door:


The Cutrubus Freeway Mazda in Ogden, UT was built in 1973.   My photo is from 2014.  The building was still there and the biz operating in 2015.  But by 2018, the beautiful, round zigzaggy building was gone.  Replaced with a drab shopping center.


Another mcm loss:  this big ol’ A-frame showroom in Olympia, WA was built in 1964 for a Cadillac dealership.  In later years, it housed car rental businesses.  Vacant in 2015 and demolished in 2016:

BUT the good news is that there are still plenty of spectacular buildings still out there.  If you’re interested in any of these themes, here’s where you will find them at my website:

Ship Buildings

Ship Restaurants

Movie Theatres

Car Dealerships

Back with more later tonight…


There / Not There (post #1 of many)

I’m now hunkered down for the big winter project.  I’m combing my entire website for dead links to other websites and checking out the map links for ev-ry-thing (2600+ pages) to see if there have been changes (demolitions, removals, repaints, etc.).  As you can imagine, most of the news is not good.  But, these days, anything that’s still in place and hasn’t been touched is good news!

Over the next several months, I’ll be updating my website with the info as I go and posting some of these discoveries here at blog posts.  The focus will be on signs since that seems to be my blog audience.  But I’ll slip in some buildings and statues as well.

So.  Let’s get the ball rolling with the 63 Diner in Columbia, MO which closed in 2015.  These signs hung in there until at least 2016.  But, by this year, they were gone and the building was deteriorating.


I think most of the signs were retro (new/made to look vintage).  The pig might have been vintage.  The atomic sign either came from a Mr. Quick or was modeled after that burger stand chain’s sign.  There was also a cute giant burger & french fries here.  Gone as well.



From the Egyptian Revival section at my site, here’s a heartbreak in Los Angeles.  The Ahmed Apartments from 1925 had lots of nice detail.  Until a couple of years ago when some bozo decided to paint and basically ruin it.  Here’s a detail photo I took in 2010:


And here’s the Google Street View tragic view – ugh:



That’s enough bad news for one blog post.  Here are some “wins” from the Giant Animals section.  While checking on all the cow head statues, I feared the worst when I saw this at Google Street View for 2017 for Holland Farms in Yorkville, NY:


My photo from 2010:


But after Googling a bit to see what happened (bakery closed or what), I found out that the Cupcake and Chuckie had been restored:

Here’s John Margolies’ photo of the sign in 1987:


The Giant Horseshoe Crab in Blanchester, OH was also missing at Street View.  My photo from 2009:


A little hunting at Google revealed that the crab is now a feature of a vintage trailer park in Hillsboro, OH:

Same situation for the Whale Car in South St. Paul, MN.  Missing at Street View so I called the new used car lot biz that’s there now and found out that he’s been moved to the new owner’s location nearby:



Let’s end with a sign since that’s what most of you want to hear about.  This sign in Victoria, TX was pretty much destroyed last year by Hurricane Harvey.  The text panel survived but the Indian was completely crumpled.  My photo from 2011:


After corresponding at Facebook for over a year with the owner who insisted that the sign was being “restored”, I had pretty much given up.  But then this news item popped up.  The Indian had been recreated and reinstalled.  Not neon but the style still looks fairly close (although the colors look kinda bright):

More good news/bad news coming soon.  There’ll be another post most likely next weekend.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

L.A. Area Quickies

Hey there!

All of the ~3,000 photos from my June trip are officially up at my website (  So, if you’re thinking of traveling to Texas or just want to travel virtually, have a look at any of the sections (signs, mid-century modern, eateries, theatres, gas stations, giant statues, etc.) and you’ll find loads of new additions.  There were also some additions to Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona.

In the past few weeks, I took two little daytrips down to the L.A. area.  Here are some funky-blogworthy signs, buildings, etc..  If you didn’t know, the “good stuff” appears at my website and the coarser stuff gets uploaded here.

From Hawthorne — kind of a bizarre circus thingie on top.  Maybe there were horses?  Maybe it revolved?



The Custer’s Gift Shop in Covina has been gone for many years.  Nevertheless, the sign hung in there. Here’s a photo I took in 2013:


The central panel has been missing since around 2017.  I don’t suppose any money or effort will be spent to repair it.  I doubt this will be around much longer:



From Whittier.  Too late in the day and I got silly shadows but I’ll include this anyway.



From Valley Village:



The Bootmobile at Victor’s Shoe Repair in Burbank is getting a makeover.  It’s normally red and this looks like a primer coat to me:



The Mission Hills Bowl in Mission Hills in its new life as a Ross Dress for Less store:



This sign in Los Angeles was built & installed around 2014:



Let’s close out this post with some signs from the Valley Relics Museum which recently relocated to Burbank:





Yes, part of the Premiere Lanes sign from Santa Fe Springs:





There will be more posts coming up very soon since my annual website combing project  is underway which leads to all kinds of pleasant surprises (restorations) and, more commonly, devastating discoveries about demolitions, horrible sign updating and removals.  Stay tuned!

dj & the dogs


Day 28: Albuquerque to… Home! Plus the Trip Wrap-up Summary

A few signs from Albuquerque:



At the A-1 Trophy Center:



At Ski-Hi Liquors.  The business is set on a hill on the west end of town but then I’m sure people get plenty high from what they purchase here as well:



I stopped in at Zeon Signs in ABQ to see if they had anything interesting.  Sign fans might want to pick up this little book about some of the famous signs that this company designed and built:

Sure enough!  They are restoring the Cavern Theatre sign from Carlsbad, NM:



They are also storing two local signs for Carlos Garcia with plans to eventually restore them.  The Robin Hood Inn archer is about 20 feet tall:




This one requires a little more imagination as to what the final product will look like:  the Jack’s Liquor sign.  Here’s what the sign looked like at night:

Moving on to Kingman, AZ:



This one is at the same place but way, high up there:

I stopped in at Legacy Signs & Iron to see what they might have lying about.  The local Brandin’ Iron sign is still there (eventually restoring it).  I don’t think the City Cafe sign was there last year.  This was another local sign:



And there was also an Imperial 400 sign.  I don’t know it they just have the top part or the blade is somewhere else.   If you want to see the whole sign, I have a bunch at my website here:




And then… no more stops… straight driving to Barstow, CA.  I wouldn’t driven all the way home from there but since I had no headlights…  We’ve been home two weeks.  Back all my job.  And more importantly, back at the beach!  Happy dogs, happy life.  This beach is about a four minute drive from my apartment.  Paradise!  There’s no place like home!

The Ventura River meets the ocean at this beach.  Griz is about to dive into the rivermouth to get a ballie:



29 days on the road
12,314 miles (avg. 440 mi per day)
approximately 3,000 photos for the website

Gas: $2,394 (approx. $83 day); mostly at cheap Texas prices of $2.59 gallon (vs. California $4.29)

Sparkle repairs:  AC ($333), wiring ($419), tie rods & donut gaskets ($567), new tire ($79), thunking diagnosis $22 = $1420.  Plus oil changes, air filters, & top offs = $235

Tickets:  no seat belt ($161); speeding ($250)

New radio & installation: $168

Plantsitter:  $74

Food: $471 (includes snacks, coffee & other beverages)

GRAND TOTAL: (not including lodging) about $5,173

The memories, thrills, highs & lows, adventures for me and the dogs…. PRICELESS!


So, I’m going to be quiet and busy for many months (photoshopping, researching, and uploading all these photos to the website).  The process will probably take about six months.

If you need another “fix” of photos, you might want to check out the sampling of DIFFERENT photos that I uploaded to Flickr on this trip.  You can either view them as “big” photos here:

or chronologically at this trip album:


And, if you want to review this trip’s blog in entirety, you can see everything via this link:


But that’s reverse order — So, if you want to start at Day 1, you can start here and then click on the links to the other days at the bottom of the page (above the comments):


If you’ve been viewing these posts on your phone, you’re missing out on a LOT of detail.  You might want to give things another gander on a big monitor.


And, one more link — I guess I should plug my book if you don’t already have it (it came out here in the states in April):


Until the next trip (a few three or four day weekends planned for late summer or fall)…

Happy Trails!
dj & the dogs



Day 27: the Rest of North Texas

We’re in the home stretch now!  Here are a couple of signs from Canadian, TX.  I especially like the bulb thingie at the top of this signs.  Looks pretty homemade and Tinker Toy-esque:





The Riverside Motel has a Best Western-ish crown sign on top:





This two panel sign in Miami, TX has been repainted and the place has been renamed the Rafter B Cafe:



Same business — this sign is stationed a bit lower:


This super-faded motel sign is in Clarendon, TX:



This terrazzo apron is in downtown Amarillo:



A mysterious arrowhead sign in Amarillo:


Maybe this canopy sign pole was meant to simulate an “A” for Amarillo originally?


Way back in the posts from this trip, I posted a couple photos of the Teddy Jack’s Hub City Grill in Lubbock.  Here’s the other location in Amarillo.  Both locations have modern retro signs:



Last subject for this post:  the former Arrow Motel in Amarillo.  The C-152 Lectra has slid down the pole.  Earlier in this trip, I posted a photo to my Flickr stream of a nicely restored example of this sign in Stamford, TX:




Last post coming up soon!

dj & the dogs


Day 26: Northern TX & Some OK

Let’s start off with some rusty crusty signs in Wichita Falls, TX:



I love the leggy base on this one.  There hasn’t been a business name on this since at least 2007.  It appears to be a little office complex on the property:



A couple more from Wichita Falls:




Tip’s Liquor Store is in Dickens, TX:

This one is in Childress, TX:



From Lawton, OK:



Last one from this post — in Altus, OK:



The final two posts from this trip coming up tomorrow.

dj & the dogs

Day 25: Frisco, TX, some Oklahoma and on to Wichita Falls, TX

I’ve got a nice big batch for you.  Let’s start with this Independent Order of Odd Fellows sign in Grapevine, TX:



This one is also in Grapevine.  It looks like it’s probably a modern sign but its construction is a mystery.  Why would they lay that blank panel on top like that?




In Sherman, TX:



This one is on top of the Baldwin’s Restaurant in Ardmore, OK:



These modern Culligan signs are also in Ardmore:


A detail:



The Colvert’s Dairy Products sign in Durant, OK is still standing.  But the one in Ardmore was removed 2017.  Here’s what it looked like in 2011:



When it was removed it was carefully disassembled and put in storage at the Greater Southwest Historical Museum in Ardmore.  The museum has lots of Colvert’s stuff on display (smaller, non-neon signs, milk bottles, etc.).  They haven’t gotten an estimate for the restoration but I know it would be a fortune.  The Colvert family is now saying they might want to display the sign in town at the old family home.  We shall see…



While at the museum checking on the sign, I couldn’t resist shooting this guy:  a battery-operated Citicar from 1975.  More about these cars here:



The Cloverleaf is a fun place in Ardmore with lots of statues outside.  There’s clothing and other stuff inside.  The building is painted bright pink.  Here are some other photos & more info:


I asked the folks inside about this chicken head and they couldn’t remember where it came from:


This sign is in a field in Healdton, OK — no idea what the story is.  No offices or any business nearby.  Just someone’s personal treasure:


Back to Texas.   This sign is in Denison:




This repurposed KFC bucket is in Gainesville, TX.  Note the red & white striped pyramid and the “Drive-Thru” signs are still there from the KFC days:


A couple of other things from Gainesville.  I shoot a LOT of mid-century modern buildings on these trips.  Probably as many as signs but the folks that follow my blog seem to prefer signs so…  Anyway, I’m including this building because it probably won’t make the cut to be added at my website but I really like those wonky details on the facade:


Just across the street in Gainesville:


Moving on to Bowie, TX.  I also shoot a lot of statues on these trips.  This guy will wind up on my Tin Men page:



A beauty in Bowie:


The sun was going down so I got that cursed “golden hour” off-color but I had to shoot this cool guy.  He’s huge!  At the Coyote Creek Event Center in Henrietta, TX:



Three more days — three more posts to go!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 24: Broken Bow, OK to Frisco, TX (northeast of Dallas)

A quickie post:  lots of miles covered today and not as many photos as usual.

This one is in Mount Vernon, TX.  The business in the building is now The Cake Lady but this sign remains.



This one is in downtown Paris, TX:



Here are a few shots from Mineola, TX.  The Donut King (they were closed for the day, no donuts for us):



The Gateway Lanes which I’m pretty sure is closed.  Those lights must have been lit sequentially at night:



The sign at Kelly Drug — covered up with a white panel for at least ten years but this detail at the top is still visible:



From inside the abandoned Futuro in Royse City, TX.  Let’s hear it for the Queen of the Road!  Sparkle got us through sooooo much on this trip.  She’s now lounging comfortably in our little beach town.



I don’t know who this family is at this place with lots of statues in Greenville, TX.  Joseph, Mary & Jesus or just some generic toga wearing people?  The chain link fencing framing them makes them even creepier:



I have been to this place in Richardson, TX twice before at the wrong time of day to shoot this sign.  Brown signs in the shade are pretty depressing.



Off to prep more posts,

dj & the dogs