Friday, December 19, 2008

Charles Phoenix returns to Portland December 26th!

It looks like Portland will have a great alternative for the day after Christmas! After enjoying a day of holiday left-overs come on down to the Clinton Street Theater for an evening of vintage slide joy!

From the press release:

"After a sell-out performance in October, Pop Culture Humorist and Author Charles Phoenix brings his live Holiday slide show performance to the Clinton Street Theater one night only, December 26th. This laugh-out-loud celebration of Mid-century Holiday style is being presented by Portland's Speedboat Coffee.

Charles Phoenix super-charges the classic living room slide show by reinventing it into a hip and high octane celebration of classic and kitschy Mid-century American life and style. His informed and often hilarious narration of the very best of his massive collection of flea-market found Kodachrome slides will inspire your imagination and make your spirits soar.

In this hilarious holiday show you'll see how Americans decorated, dressed up, dined and drank to celebrate - New Years, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the 50s and 60s."

Plus to add to the coolness factor Mr. Phoenix will be projecting the original vintage slides. No Powerpoint presentations here!

Tickets are available at Speedboat Coffee located at 5115 SE Foster Rd., and at the Clinton Street Theater box office the day of the show.

A night with Charles will set you back a mere $19.00.

On the web:

Charles Phoenix

Speedboat Coffee

Friday, December 12, 2008

Come see Vintage Roadside at Crafty Wonderland Sunday the 14th!

Hello all,

We wanted to let you know we'll be at the Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale this Sunday, December 14th at the Oregon Convention Center.

So, if you're looking for that one-of-a-kind, unique gift come on down! You'll have over 180 different local vendors to choose that perfect gift from.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A peek at our vintage motel collection

As winter approaches and we all start looking forward to next Spring (and warm road trips) we thought it would be fun to share a few pieces from the Vintage Roadside ephemera collection. The pieces below are a few of our favorites from our tourist court, motor court, and motel collection. The next time you head out on the road we'd like to encourage you to keep an eye out for mom and pop lodging. They might not have wi-fi or a fitness center but they sure provide some great memories along the way!

The Roberta Motor Court was once located on US 341 in Roberta, Georgia. The court is a nice example of lodging that also provided an onsite restaurant for guests. Love the sign with the landscaped garden bed around it!

This copy of the 1956 New England Motor Court and Cabin Guide was provided by the Ko-Z Motor Court & Diner of Clarendon, Vermont. The guide lists numerous lodging choices for those on the road between New York and Quebec. These vintage motor court guides generally listed "member" businesses and many times included black and white photos of the establishments.

We love the pink bedspreads along with the matching pink car shown in this vintage postcard for the Park Motel of Morris, Illinois. The motel offered many of the amenities guests had come to expect - air conditioning, sound conditioning, wall to wall carpet, color TV in each room, direct dial phones, and a combination tub and shower.

The vintage postcard for Felix's Motel is a bit earlier than the Park Motel above in that they are still advertising "steam heat", a cooling system of "fans", radios in each room, and good ol' "cross ventilation" which meant you could open a window on each side of the room to cool down:-)

The Combahee Motor Court appears to have been quite a midcentury gem. They billed themselves as a "Modernistic Motor Court" and from the looks of the architecture they certainly were! The location of the Combahee was Garden Corners, South Carolina.

We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope you all get a chance to spend the day with friends and family.

We'll be resting up for the Holiday Expo and hope to see some of you this weekend at the show.

We also wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the things we've got planned for the Vintage Roadside blog over the next few weeks:

An interview with the former head "Aquamaid" from Aquarama.

A story about a couple who are restoring a vintage motor court - The Westerner, in Salida, Colorado.

A feature on the Main Street Program in Duncan, Oklahoma.

A feature on the Shattuck Windmill Museum in Oklahoma.

An update on our Tik Tok Drive In documentary film.

And, news regarding our gallery show of photography coming up in the month of March.

Hope you're all having a great week,

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

P.S. We promise to post the final day of our road trip in the next couple of days. We had a great time visiting with the ranger at the John Day Fossil Beds and had a fantastic time at the Painted Hills.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hello Utah & Idaho!

Welcome back to Vintage Roadside's road trip across the western USA! If you're just joining us, we're starting the day in Heber City, Utah where we arrived in the wee hours of the morning. After a very long day of driving, we were more than pleased to find a room at the first motel we stopped at. The room was even half price due to pending construction work. Although no running water made for an interesting start to the day, we declared "water, schmater...who needs it!" and hit the road.

We were treated to another amazing day weather-wise and started off by retracing our steps to see the Vista Grande motel sign we had noticed coming into town. The sign looked great and appeared to be freshly painted. No neon at this time, but we're thinking it may be a work in progress.

Making our way through Heber City we came upon this fantastic old gas station with elements of streamline moderne and mid-century design. If anyone knows what brand it was originally, we'd love to know.

Out on the western edge of town the Holiday Lanes bowling alley was another great building that stopped us in our tracks. Loved the awning across the front of the building with the Wasatch Mountains creating a perfect backdrop.

Leaving Heber City via Highway 40 we hopped on I-80 for just a few miles. We had been looking forward to Utah State Highway 66 and it was fantastic! It's an old 2 lane road that sharply winds its way up and through the mountains. The scenery was stunning and we met just one other car the entire 30 mile length of the road. We did notice that each end of the road had locking gates so we're thinking it probably gets a bit hairy in the winter. If you're ever in that part of Utah we'd highly recommend fitting that stretch in. Although you might white-knuckle a few of the 20 mph curves, the scenery is well worth the effort.

Coming from the absolute isolation of the mountains the entrance to Ogden was a bit of a shock. A very busy town, but with a bit of patience still plenty of wonderful things to see.

We're fans of some of the more oddball pieces of roadside history so sighting one of the few remaining Norge Balls is cause for spontaneous celebration in the car. This one in Ogden has been repurposed, but good to see it still intact.

We're not sure how long the North Star Drive In Theater sign will last on the outskirts of Ogden as the screen itself is long gone and the housing development on the property looks like it's nearing completion. Drive In theaters have become so scarce it's always a great discovery to find one of the old signs along the road...for a moment you can imagine driving through the dark outskirts of town heading for that Friday night double-feature.

Our next stop was in Perry, Utah for lunch. Our mom and pop choice for the day was the Maddox Drive In. We'd heard of the Maddox before, but nothing could prepare us for how incredible it was! We've eaten at many, many drive in restaurants across the country and for us the Maddox is easily in our top three.

The Perry location was opened in 1949 by Irv and Wilma Maddox and still offers the same level of service and food you would have received back in the day. While many new restaurants try and create a nostalgic feel, there's just no substitute for almost 60 years of drive in experience. From the "flash your lights" for service, to the home made ice cream, the Maddox is truly one of the treasures of the roadside.

The onion rings were even better than we had hoped for. (And we definitely recommend the killer fry sauce!) So, we'd like to once again thank the Maddox for decades of great food and service. It's places like this that make a road trip - and lunch - memorable.

As we headed into Brigham City, Mrs. Vintage Roadside spotted another treasure - our second Norge Ball of the day. If you'd like to recreate the sound of this discovery you can either imagine yourself at a bingo hall after a winning black out number is called or just scream "Norge Ball!!" at the top of your voice like we do. This one was a little beat up but still displayed its original Wonder Bread wrapper-like pattern.

We spotted this great old theatre sign along Brigham City's main strip. The theatre had a nicely tiled entrance along with an original ticket booth.

Near the theatre was Bert's Cafe. We didn't check out the cafe, but from the sidewalk the place looked great. If the photo below was in black & white we'd have a hard time telling whether it was taken recently or in the 1950s with their overload of vintage signs. Bravo Bert's!

If we wouldn't have just eaten at the Maddox we would have tried the Peach City Drive In a little ways down the road. It looked fairly busy as we passed by so if you've eaten here let us know what we missed. We've got it on the list for next time.

At this point in our trip we say goodbye to Utah (state #10 of the trip) and hello to Idaho. We left I-84 in favor of Highway 30 and made our first stop in Burley. The town had a great collection of roadside architecture and signage. The Parish Motel below has a really unique sign that still lights up at night.

The Lampliter gets points both for it's unusual spelling and the great angled pole upon which the sign is built. A nice example of late 1950s sign work.

The arrow outside of this no-name lounge might be a familiar sight to some of you. They still can be seen in many cities quietly rusting away. The one below was in fantastic condition and it was great to see one so well cared for.

Vintage Roadside confession - we're on the hunt for one of these "Open" signs so if anybody has an extra one kicking around the garage give us a call :-)

We started to lose the light in Burley so we made a beeline for Twin Falls. We came into town just as the sun was setting and were pleased to find a few lit neon signs. The Magic Bowl looked great. Bowling alleys are another quietly vanishing part of our cities and we were pleased to see this one jumping with league activity the night we passed through.

A very nice sign outside of the El Rancho Motel. This one led us to ponder just how many motels have been named "El Rancho" in the last 60 years?

The Branding Iron Motel also added greatly to the collection of neon in Twin Falls.

As we came to the end of another day we were discussing all the miles we'd covered, the things we'd seen, the late, late nights behind the wheel and the veritable Wild Kingdom of animals we'd dodged along the way. It was at this moment of peaceful reflection that nature chose to throw us a dinosaur curveball.

After recovering our slighlty road-lagged senses, we stopped for a look at this old roadside curio shop quietly waiting for a new owner. We do have the realtor information on file - you know, just in case any of you are looking for a new career in the roadside attraction field. You know you want to!

We called it a night just across the Oregon border in Ontario and have mapped out a fairly rural route via Highway 26 which will take us through the John Day Fossil Beds and the Painted Hills. We hope you'll join us tomorrow as we travel the last leg of our epic road trip.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vintage Roadside motors from Salida, Colorado to Heber City, Utah

We begin the day getting our first look around Salida, Colorado. We came into town late last night via a very dark Highway 50 and are looking forward to seeing the town. One of the things we hope for along the main road in every town we pass through is a sign stating "Historic Downtown" with a helpful arrow. Salida was not to disappoint!

In addition to some great early 1900s architecture, we spotted a nice collection of vintage, hand painted wall signs. In this era of signs produced via computer in an hour or less, it's always a treat to see reminders of a time when a skilled artist spent hours and days producing advertising works of art. The old Manhattan Hotel had a great collection including the iconic Coca Cola logo along with one of the town's many Snow Drift Shortening signs.

Back out along Highway 50, this wonderful sign advertised High's Liquors. Another great example of the individuality that was once a common sight along the road.

Just west of Salida we decided to head north along Highway 24.

Vintage Roadside public service announcement - This area is at a fairly high altitude and we would recommend always checking the weather forecast before setting out through this part of the country. Also, you may want to pack extra lotion as the dryness in the air can and will without warning unleash a maddening case of the "itchies"!

Highway 24 took us through the town of Leadville. Another town which seemed to be humming away with activity. We were treated to a great main street with well-kept buildings and friendly people. The Golden Burro Cafe sign was a real standout.

We were happily driving along when a sign flashed by that took us a few seconds to process.

Mr. Vintage Roadside: "Did that say Continental Divide?"
Mrs. Vintage Roadside: "I'm pretty sure it did!"
Mr. Vintage Roadside: "Should we turn around?"
Mrs. Vintage Roadside: "Hmm, I don't see how we can't!"

We've got several vintage photographs from the 1940s and 1950s showing people posing next to signs like this. It's just one of those moments on a road trip you've got to stop the car and take some photos. Sort of like those "Welcome to California" or "Yellowstone National Park" signs. Nothing says "I've been on a vacation" more than you and the family standing next to one of these! We've got our photos but will save those for the family slide show :-)

As you can see we were extremely fortunate with the weather and road conditions. This was about the only patch of snow we could find at 10,000 + feet above sea level.

The next part of the drive was one of the few times we found ourselves on an interstate. The good news was that this stretch of Interstate 70 runs through the canyons along the Colorado River, one of the most dramatic, scenic stretches of interstate we've ever driven. We continued along I-70 for about 60 miles before jumping off in the town of Rifle. Our goal was to reach Dinosaur, Colorado for no reason other than the fact that we thought the named sounded fun.

Heading north out of Rifle along Highway 13 our next stop was the small town of Meeker. Driving along Main Street we discovered this great local pharmacy. The Meeker Drug Store had a nice neon sign and beautiful vintage tile work.

Leaving Meeker we headed west along Highway 64. We passed through the town of Rangely and found ourselves in Dinosaur, Colorado. We were happy to find the fella below greeting visitors to the town.

On the serious side of the dinosaur coin, the town also offers the Dinosaur National Monument. There are currently some issues with the structural integrity of the facility, but hopefully next time we pass through we can get a look at the main exhibit wall.

We also spotted this great looking little tourist court in Dinosaur. The Park Motel was a nice example of the individual cottage style courts that were once common along the road.

The next part of the drive was a bit of a white knuckle trip due to the large number of deer along the road. We were leaving Dinosaur around dusk and knew the deer would be an issue so we took our time and make it safely to Vernal.

The Vernal leg of the journey is one of those stretches that seem to pop up once or twice on every road trip. We had planned for days to visit Vernal, Utah to see the giant pink dinosaur. We were right on our schedule of reaching the town at the end of the day with the thought of spending the night, and seeing everything around town the next morning.

Yeah, about that...

We had no idea Vernal was a modern-day oil boom town with all of the resulting traffic, lodging issues, and overall feel of everything moving at 100 mph. We had no luck finding a motel for the night and, based on feedback from the numerous motels we called, would very much recommend not planning on finding lodging in town. In hindsight, one of the more humorous responses to our inquiry checking for room availability was, "I wish people would stop calling!" The clearest answer we could get was that most places were booked out for the next three months.

It was a shame we had to keep driving as Vernal had a number of interesting looking roadside signs and statues, but it was getting late and the next town with lodging was another 120+ deer-filled miles away. We did manage to snap an incredibly poor photo of the Vernal Dinosaur which ironically once graced a motel in town.

We finally found lodging in Heber City at around 1:30 am. The good news was we got the room for half price! The bad news was that starting at 7:00 am all of the motel's water would be turned off. Deal!

On our next leg we'll shoot for making it through the rest of Utah, and across the southeast corner of Idaho. We hope you'll join us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Westward Ho! Dodge City, Kansas to Salida, Colorado

Day two of the Vintage Roadside journey west begins along Wyatt Earp Avenue in Dodge City, Kansas. The weather has been so perfect the entire trip we had forgotten it was the end of October. Upon mere seconds of stepping outside this morning there was no mistaking the fact Fall had arrived! The car had a layer of frost and we quickly donned several new layers of clothing.

After being briefly stunned by the cold we decided to head west along Highway 50 with the hope of reaching Salida, Colorado (about 370 miles away) at some point tonight. We were looking forward to seeing how the scenery changed as we made our way from the plains of Kansas to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

We did one last wander around Dodge City and were happy to spot this neon sign for the Thunderbird Motel. We've seen "Thunderbird" motels in most of the western states, but this one stood out with its great use of the classic googie font.

The first town we passed through after leaving Dodge City was Cimarron. The town had a small downtown and one of the things that caught our eye was Clark's Drug Store. After seeing so many large, chain drug stores it's always nice to see these small pharmacies still operating. We were sorry to be passing through before they opened for the day as they have one of the few remaining soda fountains in Kansas. We've got them marked down for next time.

We always look for old motor courts and were excited to pass by Miles Court in the stretch between Syracuse and Coolidge. Something about old gas stations and motor courts along a stretch of empty highway really makes it feel like you could be back in 1950 taking a road trip across the country.

It was also somewhere along this stretch that we spotted a large gathering of sorts in the distance. As we got closer it appeared to be a large flock of vultures. They were big, black, and had large red heads. As we got even closer we realized it was a flock of turkeys. We'd always heard they might not be the sharpest bird in the animal kingdom and it was at this point (about 20 yards away) that they decided they'd cross the road - by walking! Luckily we were going slow enough at this point to avoid them as attempts to become airborne weren't being met with overwhelming success.

After our brush with the Wild Kingdom we crossed the Colorado border and found ourselves in Lamar, Colorado. Lamar had plenty of fun roadside things to see including the W. G. Brown service station. Constructed of petrified wood, the building was originally built as a gas station in 1932. The building is now on the grounds of a used car lot.

The Lamar Baptist Church makes quite a mid-century statement.

Being huge fans of fiberglass advertising statues we were pleased to encounter our first Sinclair dinosaur. It's great to see a company still using these fiberglass wonders of the 1960s. We've reached the logical conclusion that we someday will need one of these to keep our A & W Burger Family company! If you know of one needing a new home we'd be happy to work something out.

One of the next towns we spent time in was Rocky Ford. While we usually cringe at the "modernization" of early commercial buildings, there was something about Don's for Lad & Dad Shoes that seemed to work in a way so many others don't. Maybe it's just us but this one really seem to have something going for it. Bonus points for using the term "Lad & Dad" also.

We rolled into Pueblo just in time for rush hour. After driving through small town after small town for hours on end you tend to forget that traffic still exists. Pueblo reminded us that just because you're in no hurry doesn't mean everyone else isn't. We waited out the traffic and enjoyed our time driving around the downtown area. The More-Skinny neon sign was unlike any we'd seen and was a real highlight of Pueblo. We didn't see him after dark but he appears to be animated.

As we headed out of Pueblo we were treated to another fantastic sunset. The Rocky Mountains were visible in the distance and it looked like we'd have no traffic as we made our way up to Salida.

We made one last stop to check our map in Canon City before heading to Salida. The map showed one choice for heading west so off we went. Within minutes of leaving Canon City we were the only car on the road. We went a few more miles and were still the only car on the road. Another 10 miles - still the only car. It was at this point the road began to climb fairly rapidly and the corners were mainly of the 25 mph variety. This was our first trip with a portable GPS and the screen seemed to be displaying the road in the shape of a Krazy Straw (for the next long ways). We tend to drive until quite late most nights and almost always seem to find ourselves on this type of road at 11:30 pm. We've decided that it's a good thing - we can drive really, really slow and we don't have to see over the edge of the road which always seems to be lacking guard rails.

After what seemed like 9 or 10 hours of driving we spotted a neon sign in the distance. The Loma Linda KOA in Cotopaxi looked great. Something about KOA always reminds me of growing up. They seemed to be everywhere for a time in the 1970s and 1980s. Remember those great A-frame office building and those yellow and black signs?

We've finally arrived in Salida and are ready to call it a night. Next up we'll take a look around town and then head west with the goal of ending the day in Utah.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vintage Roadside heads home day 1

Everyone back on the bus! Vintage Roadside is now headed back to Portland, Oregon from Tulsa and our goal is to drive as many 2 lane highways between here and there as possible. We've decided to take a different path home, so those of you playing the home version can begin with your game piece on Route 66 heading west out of Tulsa.

We're looking forward to spending a few more days on the road and discovering more of the things that make a road trip so special. We hope you'll enjoy following along once again. Bonus points for vintage neon signs!

We spent the first part of the day winding our way along Route 66 as we wanted to get another look at Stroud, home of the Rock Cafe. The Skyliner Motel had a real gem of a sign. If we were looking for a motel for the night we would have checked this one out. We then headed west for another 200+ miles until we reached Sayre, Oklahoma. There were numerous old gas stations and other roadside relics to make the hours slide by.

Once we hit Sayre, Oklahoma, we decided to hang a right onto Highway 283 and head for Dodge City, Kansas. This decision was based on the fact that we'd never been to Kansas and Dodge City had a nice appeal. Didn't Dodge City used to have Old West gunfights? Only one way to find out! One of the things we really enjoy on our trips is having a Point A and a Point B with nothing but an atlas to help make spur of the moment directional decisions.

We always enjoy looking at the downtown and/or business district of any town we drive through and one of our favorite things to look for is the theatre. Before television and strip malls came along, just about every town with a few hundred people had one. While many are now sitting quiet, it's still reassuring to see them. As long as they're still standing there's always a chance they'll someday be brought back to life. Cheyenne, Oklahoma was no exception. The Rook Theatre had some wonderful art deco elements and maybe next time we pass through it'll be lit up again.

As we headed north up through Oklahoma we found ourselves to be the only car on the road for 100 miles or so. The weather was perfect and we were treated to a fantastic sunset. We thought the photo above captured the feel of that part of the state. We don't have many windmills in Oregon so it was fun to see and hear them spinning away out in the fields. Little did we know we were about to discover a real roadside treasure.

As we pulled into Shattuck, Oklahoma we saw another windmill on the horizon. As we got closer we realized it wasn't one windmill, it was dozens! Needless to say the car was basically on autopilot as we headed for a new discovery: the Shattuck Windmill Museum & Park. As we jumped out of the car the sound of all the windmills spinning away became something we'll always associate with this trip.

The Windmill Museum has 45 vintage windmills along with a handful of period structures. The windmills have all been beautifully restored and each one is a different make or model. The museum was dedicated in 1996 and has grown over the years to include a half-dugout home and a story-and-a-half farmhouse moved to the grounds from outside of town.

If you're ever near this part of the country we'd highly recommend a stop. The museum is open every day of the week and the pride and craftsmanship is quite evident. These are the types of treasures that make it worth the time spent off of the interstates.

A last look at one of the windmills in the 4 acre park.

One of the first things we saw in Dodge City, Kansas was another wonderful theatre. The marquee on the Dodge has a great shape and the doorway also has some fantastic ironwork.

Here at the end of the day we'll leave you to ponder what might quite possibly be one of the most amazing backlit plastic signs ever. Just take a few moments to consider the fact that the gentleman on the sign is so incredibly tough he has now moved on from human opponents to whipping up on Mother Nature!

Tomorrow we'll be heading out from Kansas to somewhere in Colorado. We're looking forward to seeing how dramatically the environment changes.