07 - Main Street

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Signs on Main Street

This room here looks nothing like the rest of the museum, because this is our Signs on Main Street display. We wanted to put these signs into context, in their natural habitat.  So all of the signs on the buildings are original, and the buildings were designed and built around the signs that we had. The shop windows work as display cases for the smaller items in the museum's collection, so you can “window-shop” your way through the rest of the museum.  And instead of trees running down our main boulevard, we put the largest, tallest signs in the museum.


The McDonald's sign is from Huntsville, Alabama and originally went up in 1963. At the top they're advertising $0.15 hamburgers, and the character holding up that sign is named Speedee,  Speedee got his name from the “Speedee Service System” which is what McDonald's used to call, what we now call today, fast food.


Moving on down our street we have the spinning Earl Scheib globe.   Earl Scheib was a very cheap place to get your car repainted, their original slogan was any car any color $19.95. And they would ask you to cover up your own tires and windows before they painted, otherwise they would just paint over everything.  So it should be unsurprising to learn that this is one of about seven signs that we've had to repaint in the museum. This sign is coming to us from Compton, California, which is of course the birthplace of gangster rap. and if you look in between the yellow and pink cars, on both sides of the globe, you'll find a nice big bullet hole where  the sign was shot straight through.


Above and beyond the globe we have the Howard Johnson's sign from Utica, New York. HoJo’s  as many people called them, blanketed the United States and could be found just about everywhere. They were known for having particularly good food and or an ice cream shop attached to them, and many people would eat at their local Howard Johnson's even if they weren't staying there or traveling. Sadly there are fewer than five of those original Howard Johnson's locations left in the United States.  


We'll now move into the last stop on the guided tour which will be towards the mail pouch Tobacco Barn wall in the last room. But as you walk into that room,  he'll notice a shop off to the right with Windows you can actually look into. This is NeonWorks of Cincinnati, a real working neon shop located here inside of our Museum. They are a separate business from the museum but they help us out with restoration and repair. And if you're here on a weekday you can normally see Tom or Greg and they're working on neon signs. But now will move into the last room.