Category: Roadside Curiosities

Roadside Americana

Guitar FUN Inc., Oak Park, IL

I love this sign. It’s not too far from where I live and it makes me smile every time I see it. I love that clock sticking out helping providing the time. I love the yellow rectangles against the red brick wall. I love the guitar graphic. But I love the last rectangle the most. FUN INC.


Alcala’s, Chicago, IL

A country & western superstore in the city! Alcala’s features an incredible selection but, for my money, nothing beats the big horses on the signs! So lifelike! So pretty!

Free parking across the street from the store. Sadly, it was daytime and the neon bordering the horse was not lit up!

There’s a big horse head on the front of the sign!

A big beat-up horse greets you at street level!

And a penny pony for the kids awaits you!

Ah, what wonders are inside? You’ll have to find out for yourself, kids.

Mini-Van Nutter, Jacksonville, FL

At a gas station in Jacksonville, FL-March 2007

Do you not know that the
wicked will not see Heaven
Do not be deceived! Drunkards
Homosexuals, slanders, Thieves, Idolers,
greedy, prositutes, swinders, adulters.
You need Jesus to save you! [sic]

When the bomb go’s off
Where are you going?
Heaven or Hell?

Jesus said, all these things would happen right before he returns Math. 24, 25

Get right with JESUS while you have time! Don’t miss the Rapture

There will be a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years that is signed by the anti-Christ!
that will begin the 7 year tribulation! Give your lives to Jesus! Don’t go through–(God’s Wrath!)

Choose today who you will serve! Jesus or Satan

[sadly illegible]
Jesus is coming soon! Hurry! ASk how Him to save you
Don’t get Left Behind [my favorite]

Jesus said if you love me you will obey me! If yo don’t I will spit you out!

Jesus Loves us! Live with Him not Satan!

Jesus forgives us of our sins but we have to turn from our sins that’s why he died for us!
You must be reborn in Jesus, the old you must die to sin and have a clean mind and renewed spirit!

Jesus saves!

God so Loves the worl that he gave his only son that whoever believe’s on him will not die but live.

Jesus came to save

Freaky toys in the car.

Graceland, Memphis, TN

Sadly, most of my Graceland photos still need to be scanned. But Graceland is iconic and available as both a pop-up book and view-master reels, so I’m not sure what I can add to the iconography!

That said, I love the TCB logo and the Elvis musuems across the street from the mansion! “Takin’ Care of Business IN A FLASH!”

It’s my favorite thing about Elvis and Graceland!

Abandoned Church, Upper Peninsula, MI

While taking a drive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we stumbled upon this abandoned church. It was quite a find but I didn’t have a good camera at the time. Oh, well! At any rate, it was an overcast day and the church was located down a side road, overgrown with trees.
A slightly brighter and better shot. This was a really fun find.
Love the Rust Belt!

McDonald’s First Store, Des Plaines, IL

This is certainly a landmark! It’s a replica of the very first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, IL. The original had been renovated repeatedly and the company decided to use the original blueprints to recreate the first store. It is now a free museum, only open in the summer so I didn’t get inside! Sad, but true! There are mannequins in vintage uniforms working the stations. I love that.

Across the street from the McD’s museum is a fully-operational McD’s store that has a few items on display for the public–including this model of the original location. We had a chocolate shake. It seemed like the right thing to do.

There are two plaques showcasing the landmark restaurant!

Cooking Fools Big Whisk, Chicago, IL

In all the world there is one thing I always love:
things that are much bigger than they should be!

Cooking Fools is a Bucktown, Chicago biz offering cooking classes, carry-out gourmet, and catering among other foodie goodies. Though I’ve never had any of their food (I’m sure it’s delish) I love them for their Big Whisk. It’s a whisk. It’s on the building and it’s flipping huge!

It’s as big as a door, people!

Lorraine Motel, Memphis, TN

If you have the chance to stop by the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN., I recommend it. The spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated is haunting and sad and is frozen in time. The Civil Rights Museum is housed here and it is, of course, an important document of a pivotal time in American history.
My quibble with the place is that the the location itself defines the museum in a way that another location may not have. There is a nearly fetishistic fixation on the murder of King. His hotel room is preserved, an entire room is devoted to artifacts related to the murder (including the gun and bullet pulled from the body), and in what I would consider the most disturbing element of the tour, you can stand in the spot the killer stood in when firing the fatal shots.
It’s fascinating but also sad and morbid.
I wonder if the museum might have been more uplifting and also inspiring if it hadn’t started and ended with death? Not to say that the civil rights movement wasn’t filled with stories of those that lost their lives for the struggle but this museum fixates heavily on King’s murder and I just found it sad and ending on a really low point in history.