Monday, December 20, 2021

Sign Language, Part Two,

Shep's Liquor, Cottonwood, AZ.

Pine Café, Independence, CA.

Sundial Motel,  Gila Bend , AZ.

Second in my series about signs are these disparate numbers. Three are mid-century items with highly stylized fonts that I identify with the mid-fifties. The establishments advertised above have long been shuttered.

The Fifties to me were open collared shirts of pink and lavender, gray suits with wide shoulders and thick soled brogans. Fashionistas of the era called the lavender hue heliotrope. Funny the things we remember. Earlier in the late forties in the Bay Area we riffed on the clothes of pachucos defined as Mexican American gang members. It’s analogous to rappers today whose threads are often derived from gang attire.

My fourth-grade class was half Mexican and my bestie was Ramon Gutierrez. He and I copped the pachuco look, no mean feat when you’re a nine year old blonde, blue-eyed wasp. We wore Levis with the belt loops cut off and the pant legs turned under to form a perfect cylinder that didn’t touch our calves. The jeans had to be unwashed. The ideal was to be able to stand then in the corner, stiff as a board.

This bit of nostalgia has nothing to do with signs but that’s what I’m reminded of when I see the sign for Shep’s Liquors. Shep's brings to mind my first restaurant job at The Huddle at the corner of  University and Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. The Huddle had a quintessentially fifties sign, too, I was a busboy at 14. It was 1955. God, I hated that job. 

MOTEL 3 Blocks East, Desert Shores, CA.

$500 Fine For Littering, Desert Shores, CA.

Amboy School, Amboy, CA.

The other three come from the nothing there or long gone schools I so favor.


Blacks Crossing said...

What a blog of well-crafted memories, Steve! The Sheps sign is the best, and your words about your bestie, Ramon, and you adapting the pachuco style lights up many things in my brain as well, having grown up in Albuquerque. Your first job as busboy at the Huddle reminded me of bussing tables and loading the dish machine at Furr's Cafeteria. As with you, it put a few dollars in my pocket and a huge plantar wart on the ball of my foot from wearing less than stellar shoes for hours on end. Ah, youth. What we did and what we remember. Thanks for Sign Language, Part 2! Happy Holidays!

Steve Immel said...

Thanks, Daryl. Just as the Fifties ended the button-down collar era began. And by college in the fall of 1959, I had purchased a full Ivy League ensemble with which to matriculate. That was from the proceeds of my summer as a clerk in the mailroom at Arizona State.