Monday, March 22, 2010

Gettin' My Kicks

Fontaine's Chicken 2, originally uploaded by D. Brigham.

From Dave Brigham:

I was definitely born in the wrong decade, and, quite possibly, the entirely incorrect part of the country. Although born in 1965 in Connecticut, I have long felt drawn to the neon signs of the '50s, and the landscape of the Southwest. These two passions would have been served well traveling Route 66 behind the wheel of a '55 Cadillac Coup de Ville, neon signs of blue swallows, teepees and giant cowboys luring me in to beautiful chrome-filled diners and motels with Magic Finger beds.

In 1988, I did in fact travel through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, and walked countless times along historic Route 66 during my three-month stint in Albuquerque. I ate at the Route 66 Diner, where one of my traveling buddies, Pete, worked, and passed many old-school motels, many of which I'm sure are long gone 22 years later. I took a bunch of pictures during that trip, but alas the camera I had was defective and nothing ever got developed. So I have no record of that trip, and of my brief time living in Albuquerque. This bums me out to no end. Some day I'll return.

I go to diners every once in a while around Boston. One of my favorites is the Rosebud Diner in Somerville. I just love the beautiful neon signs of these old diners. Thanks to a local guy named Dave Waller, many of the old neon signs from around Boston and elsewhere in the country have been saved, even if the restaurants or motels they once adorned have been lost to history.

The photo above is of the neon sign from Fontaine's Chicken, a restaurant in West Roxbury, MA, that closed in 2004 after more than 50 years in business. Waller bought the sign and put it alongside numerous other reclaimed and restored neon signs in his Malden, MA, home, a restored firehouse (the photo below shows another sign from his collection). I interviewed Waller a few years back for an article I wrote in a publication put out by the Society for Commercial Archeology.

Dog-n-Suds neon sign, originally uploaded by D. Brigham.

1 comment:

  1. There really was an art to those signs, each one an individual piece that stood out on it's own. It's satisfying to know that a few have been saved and given a loving home.