October 16, 2008


Here are a handful of roadside sights that I witnessed over the past year; most of which were snapped on semi-local day trips...

Springdale, AR

This is one of those signs I've passed a thousand times, and every time I think, "I need to take a picture of that." Now that I've invested the 30 seconds that it took to pull in and snap the thing, I must say that I feel surprisingly accomplished.

Van Buren, AR

I cupped my eyes and peered through the glass to see what sad fate had befallen upon Emmert's Domino Room and so help me, I witnessed a room of old men crowded around tables, playing dominoes on a Thursday morning. It seems that our world is not entirely broken.

A monument to tragic decision making, the outcome of which is an off-the-strip freestanding Segway rental shop amid Branson, Missouri. I'm guessing investors figured that the Segway would provide a welcome alternative to gridlocked highway 76. In reality the majority of Branson tourists seem to prefer to "feel the excitement" from the comfort of a Golden Years tour bus.

Another Branson venture gone awry. The angular rock structure set against the treelined hillside is quite appealing to me. Are we to assume the musical ducks swam in the silver fountain? Now I'm sort of wishing I'd stayed there and found out.

When booking a room at the Branson Welk Resort (as in Lawrence Welk), one might expect to be greeted with lavish interiors bathed in thousands of bubbles. Well, I did and I was sorely disappointed. I've seen more glamorous Best Westerns, no exhaggeration. They really missed out on some major decorating opportunities. One of the few measly attempts at Welk-ness is the statue seen above.
However, I will give kudos to the staff for not batting an eye when we requested clubs, balls, and scorecards at 3 AM for use on their on-campus miniature golf course.
(And I was thinking the same thing, but no, the statue does not come to life in the middle of the night.)

Tulsa, Oklahoma is still a good town for the modern roadside enthusiast. Thanks to the oil industry, it seems to be one of the few places in the Midwest that had enough cash to really boom in the mid nineteen hundreds, and a good deal of mid-century aesthetic remains. Plus, old Route 66 runs directly through the city. The famous Blue Whale (above) of nearby Catoosa is a worthy landmark of the Mother Road and it's very well kept and totally free. Swimming is no longer allowed (note the slide going out the side), but it's a great place for a picnic.

The giant Golden Driller guards the fairgrounds which is appropriate being that it is the most valuable part of Tulsa. (okay, to me anyway.)

Miss Jackson's of Utica Square is the only thing on earth that makes me actually wish I were a rich older lady. Petty's Fine Foods, located on the same block, is where I would shop for cold cuts for my weekly Bridge club. Visit during December for pure retro Christmas magic.

Another Tulsan beauty.

More lovely googie signage in Huntsville, Arkansas.

And skipping all the way to San Diego, California we find this hodge podge of a sign that I liked looking at.

Dear Joy Motel of Eureka Springs, Arkansas: please never change. Seriously, don't.

Also in Eureka Springs we find the grand Crescent Hotel, ablaze in the afternoon sun. Those tree shadows on the wall are so great.

Well, I think I've definitely proven one thing: if you take a picture it really does last you longer.


José Menor said...

Thanks for this, some really beautiful typography there.

And the bowling alley sign is awesome

Sue said...

Fantastic! It's nice to see that not everything in this country has been replaced by Starbucks and Panda Express - yet.

Anthony said...

i think the joy motel is my favorite. except of course for my fish grotto that i'm very proud of.

Jody B. said...

I just discovered the Faubus Motel sign this summer myself. And the Joy Motel will always be a joy to look at. Great blog entry!

Pluche said...

It's nice to know that there are still some nice googie architecture out there! Great article.

Kirk D. said...

jose- You're very welcome. Yeah, why don't they make signs like the bowling one anymore?

sue- No kidding. Makes me wonder what will be left fifty years from now.

anthony- I must learn more about this fish grotto

jody b.- yeah, same here. We were driving on the usual highway and my wife suggested we check out Huntsville since we usually blow right past it. I'm glad we did.

Thanks pluche. Wow, great photography you've got on your blog!

MWD said...

Googie signage watching is a fave past time of mine. Check out my Flikr page:

Kirk D. said...

mwd- Thanks for sharing those! As you're probably noticed I commented on some of my faves. Beautiful stuff.

landon d. mise said...

heck yeah that's awesome that you featured the springdale bowling alley sign, i live right up the road from that place and have always admired the sign every time i drive by it.

Jason said...

On the Desert Hills sign...isn't that the same font Hills(the dept. store), used when they were in business?
And I'm with you Kirk, Just looking at the Joy Motel, I hope it doesn't change either.
Great blog, by the way.

Mia Hart said...

These are some seriously awesome pieces of architecture. I especially like the Blue Whale. I would have loved to see that area when you could swim there. I know my kids would have loved it!

Mia | http://www.twincountytow.com