Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Photos available from the Vintage Roadside Archives

Looking for unique historic images for your decorating needs? We fired our Etsy print shop back up about a month ago and the response has been great. For those of you that have purchased prints we'd like to offer a sincere thank you! For those of you that haven't swung by yet we hope you find something perfect for your home, office or business. You can find our shop here.

Our images differ from many online print sellers in that none of them come from government or library public domain collections. We own the original negatives for each image we offer and have personally drum scanned, processed and produced everything we offer.

Here are a few recent images we've made available:

A group shot of tourists in the 1950s enjoying the wonder that is the Grand Canyon. Print from an original 4"x5' negative.

1950s Arizona Dude Ranch Cowboys. Print from an original 4"x5" negative.

The remains of the roadside zoo along old Route 66 in Two Guns, Arizona. Photo by us.

Bedrock City near the Grand Canyon. A 1960s roadside attraction that was recently sold. Photo by us.

Roy's Motel & Cafe along old Route 66 in Amboy, California. Photo by us.

A mail carrier in South Dakota in 1915 posing with his 1911 Wagner 4-11 Motorcycle. Print from original nitrate negative.

We'll be working over the next few months to digitize more of our archives so if there's anything specific you're looking for we'd love to hear from you!

Safe travels,

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Mystery Corner Store

UPDATE - Location confirmed as W Danville Street, South Hill, Virginia.  Building now gone.

Calling all roadside detectives! We've got a 35mm Kodachrome slide we'd love to pin down location-wise. Over on our Facebook page there were a couple suggestions of South Hill, Virginia but we're still looking for that one person who immediately recognizes Daniel's Market.

There are a couple of clues that point to Virginia - the hams hanging from the roof, those huge watermelons and the gorgeous Nolde's Bread painted screen doors.

If you recognize or remember this little corner store we'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to ship a giant fiberglass statue

Congratulations! You've found that giant fiberglass statue you've always wanted and worked out payment arrangements. Now comes the tricky part - how the heck do you get it home?

Our muffler man Big George in a TX warehouse

This is a question we've asked ourselves many times and also been asked many times. Unfortunately, the short answer is, "It sorta depends."

One thing we've found in our collecting of fiberglass giants the past dozen or so years is that finding one even remotely close to where you live is akin to winning the lottery. Out of our current crop of 16 statues the only one we've found in our own town ended up being our smallest statue. In that case it was a piece of cake. We drove across town, threw it in the back of our station wagon and were home in an hour. Total cost - about $5.00 in gas.

Skunky Brewster - our local find.

In most cases transportation comes down to that classic dilemma of choosing two out of three options:
  • Fast
  • Good
  • Cheap
Let's assume your statue's shipping needs are similar to the majority we've experienced. It's somewhere between 6' - 20' tall, weighs between 60 - 300 pounds, and you'd like to get it home as soon as possible.

For us, we've determined that there are three realistic options for getting your new treasure home. We'll break those down below with our thoughts on what we like and don't like about these options.

A&W Papa Burger transport 2007

Using your own vehicle or a rental vehicle - the DIY method

This is the method we've used the majority of times and prefer if at all possible. Anything within 1000 miles of Portland, OR we tend to either drive our own (or a rental) and pick up the statue ourselves. Of the options we mentioned above this one works out to be fast and good. In some cases we've bought a one-way plane ticket to the nearest airport. picked up a rental truck in that town, loaded up the statue and then headed home.

Harbie the Seal. 1800 mile round-trip. Rental truck.

Lately we've preferred renting simply to cut down on mileage and other wear on our own vehicle. If it's a small statue like Harbie in the photo above, a pickup rental from Enterprise made the trip easy. One tip we have is to make sure the rental has a mileage allowance that fits with your trip - getting home and finding out you owe more than you budgeted stinks.

For large statues we've used both U-Haul and Penske. Both are available in a variety of sizes and most don't require a special license to drive. We recently completed a 4300 mile trip (dodging bad weather) in a 26' Penske. We have found that Penske prices can vary based on time of the month, location, and inventory at preferred rental location. We'd also suggest the optional insurance as most personal auto policies won't cover a rental truck, and if you're like us you don't have a ton of experience driving a gigantic truck cross-country. Also be prepared to get around 10 miles-per-gallon regardless of truck size.

26' Penske - these things are huge!

One of the many reasons we prefer the DIY method of statue shipping is you're able to make sure the statue is wrapped, loaded, and secured in a manner that you feel comfortable with. You've more than likely spent a fair chunk of money on the statue and in many cases even more than the statue itself to transport it so the last thing you want is someone flinging it in the back of a truck and letting it bounce around for several hundred or several thousand miles.

Some important things to be aware of when you're going the DIY route include:

Make sure you have sufficient help to get the statue in the truck. We've been stuck trying to wrangle one with just the two of us and frankly if not for the kindness of a stranger passing by the statue would have won that battle.

Bring a ton of moving blankets and ratchet straps. You can never have too many straps! If you need to lay the statue down be sure and lay blankets down first as the road vibration will wear away paint in any area that's touching a hard surface. Also, anywhere you wrap a strap around the statue make sure there's a blanket or other soft fabric under the strap.

This only works at 20 mph or less.

Will the statue be secure at night? If you're driving a box truck with a padlock on the door you should be fine. Just make sure any motel you choose has a lot large enough for your truck. If you're driving a pickup or towing an open trailer you'll have to decide your own comfort level. We always look at it in how quickly someone could steal the statue - smaller items tend to give us bigger concerns. On our last Harbie trip we spent one night with the statue getting a few less-than-perfect hours of sleep in a well-lit and well-traveled rest area. Do be prepared to wake up and find people standing next to your truck taking photos. A bit surreal to wake up to something like that...

If you're driving a 26' truck be prepared to have a much narrower range of fuel and dining options. We found that due to the height and huge turning radius of the truck many normal gas stations were a no-go. The same goes for many restaurants along the way. The easiest way was to just plan on fuel and food at your truck stop of choice. Also in most cases it was easiest to get diesel by going through the semi-truck pump island. If you're not used to these trucks, brace yourself the first time you fill up that 70-gallon tank.

Be prepared to be one of those trucks going 20 mph up any kind of hill. We just turned on our flashers and plugged along.

Wrapping up the DIY method we personally do feel it's the best option if at all possible. It's not cheap, but as you'll read below there really isn't a way we've found that would fall into that category with any kind of predictability.

uShip or something similar.

For those of you not familiar with uShip, it's a service where you list an item (size, weight, pick up and destination, etc.) and shippers bid to transport it. Over the years we've heard and read countless reviews of the service and to sum it up: it may go awesome or it may end up in swearing and tears. Using the two out of three formula from earlier, it actually breaks the mold in that it could be any of those three things as long as you put the word "sorta" in front of it.

We have used the service one time in the shipping of our muffler man from Texas to Oregon. We'd rate that experience as less than positive. For starters, be prepared for bids much higher than white-glove professional moving companies. Also, when we used the service we were not able to contact any bidder until we accepted a bid. After finally accepting a bid for a "blanket wrap in enclosed trailer" transport, we agreed upon a pick up date. We got a text when the shipper was onsite and loading our statue, but several hours later we received a call from the seller saying he had concerns with our shipper. Not the news you're hoping for. We finally reached the shipper on the phone and it turns out he had accepted other shipments and had filled his trailer before picking up our statue. He assured us he could make it work and would let us know when he was on the road. The photo below is the one he sent us to let us know all was good.

Not what we had discussed

Upon receiving the photo we quickly realized we had vastly different ideas of "all good." To begin with, we had paid extra for enclosed transportation - strike one. To secure this fiberglass Jenga he had cranked down numerous straps across the legs which in turn proceeded to crush the torso like an egg - strike two. We had a predetermined delivery date so we could be present for delivery. That date changed numerous times with the final delay caused by the shipper stopping at his house for several days before making the final trip to our place - strike three.

We know some of you have had great experiences with the service and that's fantastic. Our issue is that unless you're working with a shipper you know or one that comes personally recommended it's too much of a gamble. These statues are big, bulky and very fragile and it's too easy to damage them if you're not familiar with handling them.

Professional moving services.

This method is one that we're not as familiar with outside of a couple local moves. These providers range from established moving companies to companies that specialize in high value fine art and artifacts. Quotes we have received for a single large statue have been anywhere from a few thousand to many thousands of dollars. If you've bought a very expensive statue and your budget allows, this may be an option to consider. Services can include removal of the statue, packing and crating, warehousing and more. If this is something that works for you you can start by doing an online search for "fine art" or "artwork" moving services. You can generally find numerous reviews for each company.

The joy of watching someone else do the work

Misc. methods.

Occasionally you may find a small statue that the seller is willing to ship via a commercial freight company. Something we learned after the first time was to be sure and discuss their packing methods before the item ships. Our first shipped statue was from a dealer that had sold several fiberglass pieces so we just assumed all would be well. The item was shipped from NJ to OR. Below is how the statue arrived. To this day we have no idea how it made it here.

Somebody order a head in a box?

Our next statue that was shipped commercially came beautifully wrapped and secured to a pallet. You just never know.

We hope this post helped take some of the mystery out of wrangling these guys around the country. Just keep in mind that you'll need a bit of help, a little creativity, a sense of adventure, and a desire to own a piece of history.

Once you get them home you'll forget about the lack of sleep, the bleary eyes, the sometimes jaw-dropping amount of money it cost to get them transported, and eventually you'll even forget that weird guy you saw at the truck stop in Texas.

We'd love to hear your tips and stories regarding moving these guys around. Let us know in the comments how you got yours home.

Mission accomplished

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Tastee Freez Twin Restoration Complete!

Greeting fellow fans of giant fiberglass statues!

After several months of extensive restoration our Tastee Freez Twin Eff is finished and he's now back with the rest of the family. In the end he took 114 hours of work to bring him back to his incredibly handsome, birthday-suit-wearing self.

Eff roaming the hallway at VR Headquarters

 Below are a few photos from along the way showing the different stages of restoration. Unlike our statues produced by International Fiberglass (the A&W Burger Family, Big George the Muffler Man, etc.) Eff needed much more work due to originally having a skim coat of Bondo between the fiberglass and the paint. Over the years the weather had taken a toll on him and several areas of the Bondo had deteriorated and broken. The worst spots were under his eyes, the top of his swirl and his mouth.

Paint stripping was the first step

As we started with the paint stripping we were able to find his original colors - brown syrup, a red tongue and bright yellow body - just like the original comics and the salt and pepper shakers available in the 1960s.

Under his eyes were patches of deteriorated fiberglass

In the photo above you can see where water had penetrated the paint which led to the Bondo popping loose and the original fiberglass rotting away.

Brain surgery

Repairing his face was a bit of a challenge as the only openings were the bottoms of his feet. Being around seven and a half feet tall it made it nearly impossible to reach up in there. The solution was to remove the back of his head so we could rebuild both the inside and outside of his face.

Facial reconstruction in progress

What followed was dozens of hours of sanding and patching until we felt he was as nice as the day he was created. Then came the fun part - seeing him with paint again.

Yellow body color was applied first

It was quite a shock seeing him bright yellow again considering he looked like an old biscuit that had been out in the rain for years when he arrived.

Chocolate syrup being refreshed

 Eyeballs and tongue to finish him off

After paint was complete he received multiple layers of clear to give him a bit of protection which will hopefully keep him looking sharp for another 50 years.

Dreamy eyed

It's hard to believe that we first saw a photo of him about 10 years ago and now we've gotten the chance to preserve him and keep a piece of oddball roadside history alive. Maybe someday we'll find a strawberry-haired Tee to complete the set!

Eff pre-restoration

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Muffler Men restoration updates!

We wanted to give a quick update on the current restorations of our two Muffler Men. Well, actually one Muffler Man and one disembodied head.

First up is Big George. Thanks to the amazing folks at Miles Fiberglass here in Portland, Oregon we're thrilled to announce he is now 100% sound again! He came to us with very severe damage to his torso after taking a fall back in 2010.

One of the numerous large tears in the fiberglass.

The team at Miles repaired him from head to toe and he's now ready to move on to painting. You can see in the photo below the numerous large tears that needed to be repaired both externally and internally. They also reconstructed his waist line so he could be bolted together again.

 Note areas of large repairs.

 We'll post an update as soon as we get him to the paint shop. We're currently in the process of selecting colors.

Roll me over!

Next up is our orphan Muffler Man Bunyan head. We actually picked him up last fall and he's been undergoing a complete restoration the past few months. The story of this one is that an antique dealer bought it from a picker who obtained it several years ago. At the time the picker got him the body still existed but was "too large" to also save. That person was not able to confirm if all these years later the body still existed. We're guessing it sadly ended up being scrapped. We've not been able to locate any photos showing a Bunyan with this paint job. The photos below will give you an idea of what a complete wreck he was when he arrived.

Paul in "as found" condition.

His problems were many, starting with the fact that at some point someone decided it would be awesome to glue gobs of pillow batting to his hair, eyebrows and beard. This created a giant mess that took endless applications of paint stripper and hand sanding. Next up was the paint job that appeared to have been applied by hand. Not with a brush, but an actual bare hand. They had also chosen a lobster red for a skin tone. Perhaps they were going for "First sunny day of the year Paul."

Paint stripper in action.

Once the numerous layers of paint had been removed we could get an idea of the underlying damage. The two areas needing the largest repairs were a large crack running from the front of his cap back into his head and a large tear at the base of his neck. We're guessing that when the head was removed from the body it was done less than carefully.

This large crack had been previously "fixed" by applying duct tape over it.

Like many jobs the preparation has been by far the largest part of getting Paul back to his handsome self. Many hours of stripping, sanding, fiberglass application, more sanding, filling in small imperfections etc. We're currently in the primer stage but hopefully you can see how great he's turning out.

We knew that rugged lumberjack was hiding under there!

He should be all painted up by the end of the weekend and we'll post a few "after" photos so you can see how he turned out!

If you need us we'll be over here sanding away,

Jeff & Kelly

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Tastee Freez Twin - a unique piece of advertising history

It's been an eventful month for our vintage fiberglass mascot collection with the arrival of Big George the Muffler Man and our newest addition Eff.

Eff settles in with some of the A&W Burger Family
What's an Eff you ask?. Eff was actually the male half of the Tastee Freez Twins - mascots used for a time by Tastee Freez. Eff has chocolate hair and waves jauntily with his right arm while his sister Tee has strawberry hair and greets everyone with her left arm.

Tastee Freez featured the twins in a series of comic books as well as other products. The most common items are the salt & pepper shakers which are still somewhat easy to track down.

Here's a lovely set recently offered on Etsy by NewportRoad

As you can see Eff does still bear a resemblance to his 2" salt shaker self, but turning him into a 7.5' statue takes him to an entirely different level. :-)

Surprisingly adding Eff to our collection was a 9-year process. We first became aware of him several years ago when Debra Jane Seltzer posted photos of a collection of fiberglass statues she visited in South Carolina. The statues were located at a business that sold concrete lawn ornaments, and after a bit of digging and were able to find a phone number. Unfortunately for us when we called we were told he wasn't for sale. We were disappointed but could tell the owner truly enjoyed having him.

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell

So, we called about once a year just to check in and see if he was possibly available and each year we were told politely he was still there but not for sale. Then in 2013 the phone number we had no longer worked. We thought maybe they had closed up shop and we resigned ourselves to the fact it wasn't meant to be.

Being us (i.e. completely obsessed) we still thought about him and wondered where he ended up. Finally around the end of last year we did another online search and found a different number for the shop. We called and found out that they were indeed looking to wrap up the business and everything was now for sale. The bad news was that Eff had been sold.

In February of this year a friend of ours was visiting family in South Carolina and just happened to be quite close to the shop that once owned Eff. We asked if he'd be willing to swing by and see what was still there. That afternoon he sent us several photos including the one below:

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell

It's him! Eff was still there! We immediately wrote Mark and asked him to find out if he was available, and if so to please let them know we'd like him. He was, and Mark was able to facilitate the adoption process for us and we were on our way. 

Obstacle one was that now that Eff was ours we needed to somehow get him from South Carolina to Oregon...quickly. Enter Jacob the Carpetbagger from North Carolina. Jacob was kind enough to drive down and meet Mark to take Eff back to his house while we arranged shipping.

Photo courtesy of Mark Blackwell
Jacob loaded up Eff and took him on a little road trip back to North Carolina (check his his road trip video here) with one particularly fun stop along the way:

Eff says hello to his former employer. (Photo by Jacob Krecj)

Eff stayed with Jacob for a couple weeks while we worked out the best way to get a giant ice cream boy statue shipped across the country. The UPS Store in Asheville, NC ended up being a tremendous help and about a week later we were picking him up here in Portland.

It turns out that Eff is not only unique in the looks department he's also quite unique in the world of advertising statues. At the moment there are three Tastee Freez statues known to still exist - ours, one other Eff and one Tee (sporting a unique set of clothes.) We'd love to find a Tee for Eff but that may be a bit like finding a unicorn. He's next in line for a complete restoration and we can't wait to see him in a new coat of yellow and chocolate brown.

Estelle says goodbye to Eff...

In closing we'd like to once again offer our sincere thanks to Estelle, Mark and Jacob. Without them we'd still be pining away for Eff. Thanks again guys for making "Operation Tastee Freez" a success.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Vintage Roadside adds a Muffler Man to the collection!

Big news friends! We're thrilled to announce the Vintage Roadside fiberglass family has grown with the addition of one very large new fella - Big George.

Some of you Muffler Man fans may recognize Big George from the Sterling McCall Classic Car Museum in Round Top, Texas. He was purchased by Mr. McCall in the late 1990s and stood in front of his museum until one unfortunate day in 2010.

According to his former caretaker he received a call one morning letting him know "the Big Guy was down." He had been placed on a raised section of the grounds (image) and sadly became a victim of overnight winds. He fell face-first, in what must have looked like the world's most awkward cliff dive, breaking his fall on the sidewalk below with both his outstretched arms and his forehead.

The results of his tumble are evident in the damage to both armpits, smaller fractures across his chest, tears at his waist and a non-lethal head wound.

Big George was then taken apart at the waist and moved to the Museum's storage warehouse. In the following years the Museum's collections were auctioned off and sadly Mr. McCall passed away in 2013. In the Fall of 2015 a friend let us know that the family was considering finding a new home for Big George. We tried to make contact but weren't able to get in touch with the family. In February we decided to give it one last shot and luckily we reached one of Mr. McCall's daughters. She put us in touch with the caretaker of the collection and he was kind enough to send us a set of detailed photos.

After discussions with the McCall family an agreement was made and we became the proud new parents of Big George.

We do have one bit of caution to other potential Muffler Men owners - be prepared to find your perfect Muffler Man no closer than 8-10 states away from wherever you're located. Before landing Big George we had "almost" landed one in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas (different statue) and California. Being in Oregon we knew immediately the California one wouldn't work out - way too easy! While finally locating one is certainly the largest part of the challenge, shipping a 20' statue home is also a major part of the process. We ended up going the uShip route and in the end he arrived here in Portland.

The two questions we've been asked are: "What's next for him?" and "Where can we see him?"

A complete restoration begins for him next week which will probably take somewhere around 3 months. We have also had several inquiries from local businesses interested in having him on display. Our number one priority is to get him restored and back out in public view. Portland has never been home to an International Fiberglass Muffler Man and we're so excited to bring one to town. As soon as we confirm placement we'll be sure and let you all know. We can't wait to get a photo with him either. :-)

If you're a local Portland business and are interested in having Big George at your location or event please contact us regarding availability here. For over 50 years now these roadside giants have drawn a crowd.

In closing we'd like to once again thank the McCall family for passing him on to us, and to all of you who have been so supportive of Vintage Roadside over the past 10 years.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

P.S. We've also recently added two other pieces to our vintage fiberglass mascot family - a rare Tastee Freez Twin as well as the head of a Bunyan model Muffler Man. We'll post about those two next time out.