Friday, April 19, 2013

Signs of the Times: Main Street, Mesa, AZ

We can't escape them; signs are everywhere.  If you think Boyce Luther Gulley saw a sign when he was inspired to build his Mystery Castle, then get a load of the way some people took the idea of a "desert sign" quite literally.  All along Main Street in Mesa, AZ, we were treated to bevy of beautiful neon markers for motels, hotels, and businesses of all kinds.  Here are some of the best signs that we saw.

Sunland Motel
This one reminds me of the original Del Taco logo (it might be a regional thing).
It's a shame that too few motels offer the practicality of the kitchenette.

Kiva Lodge Motel
I want this sign in the worst way.  How awesome would my western room
be with a giant Chief's head illuminated by neon?  Really awesome.

It's all about the details.
The vacancy sign masquerading as Native American pottery

Deserama Mobile Ranch
The name is pure poetry; someone needs to write a book called
 "Deserama" based on the desert's never ending awesomeness!
By the way, don't you already get the feeling that some lonely Deserama
resident really does have 55+ pets in her mobile home?

Trava-Leers Motel
This is one of my favorites because it evokes the nostalgia of 50's Disneyland.

El Capitan Lodge Motel
They've got vacancy and TV; what more could you ask for?

The Plainsman Motel

Highway Host Motel
The signs all have such a feeling of optimism and hope.
Or maybe I read too much into a white starburst...

Dairy Queen
This might not be that exciting to you, but in our neck of the woods, the
oldest Dairy Queen is in a tan, stucco building circa 1989, neon not included.

The Hambone Sports Bar & Grill
Save for the fact that I DO wear glasses and I DON'T drink beer, it looks like they knew I was coming.

El Rancho Motel
From what direction would one be approaching the old El Rancho?
Based on the arrow they were projecting a Jetsonian future where we would come in on hover cars.
How much do we love the "MOTEL" font?  But we still can't figure out what they mean by "Itscat."

Frontier Motel
Remember, at one time Phoenix was the wild frontier of America...but not for very long.
Look at the vacancy sign; with the push of a single button, a little flap goes up and visitors are UNwelcome. 

We drove up and down Main Street, Mesa at least three times trying to make sure that we didn't miss any of that amazing signage (we probably did).  The residents of Mesa sure are lucky to have such a concentration of neat signs to color the skyline of their hometown.  Do you have any amazing neon signs in your town that deserve more appreciation?

"Signs" - Five Man Electrical Band


Mr. Tiny


  1. On our way down to Vegas we saw a lot of empty old hotels/motels. I love seeing the vintage signs and the style of the motels. Tonopah and Goldfield have a lot of really neat buildings.

    1. I think my dream is to run a motel - a refurbished, vintage one with plenty of room for shows, pool parties, and BBQs. If I can't do that, I'd happily settle for just driving around looking at all of them and their neat signs!

  2. gorgeous! i'm glad you took the time to stop and take photos! and i'll fight ya for that kiva sign!

    1. Wouldn't it be awesome to have that sign??? There really is nothing that I love more than old-timey cowboys and Indians!

  3. I'm not sure I'd be up for the "refrigerated " Kiva Lounge. Sounds cold!

    1. Hahaha!!! You might change your mind once you're faced with 120 degree temps. It reminds me of Hard Hearted Hannah..."You talk about your cold, refrigerated mamas"...

  4. I love those signs! We always look at these old ads when we are in the USA!
    I love the pig one, I love pigs and have a small collection of vintage piggy banks.

    1. I could happily hunt down old signs all day long! One time we were driving in our neighborhood and saw a woman walking her pig. Another time, we were in Palm Springs and saw a man and his pig sitting on the sidewalk! They are cute, but like you, I'd rather stick to the chalkware variety!

  5. That Hambone Sports Bar and Grill sign is so awesome! I wonder what type of dancing occurs down at the Hambone...

    1. Isn't it cool?! Nothing like a beer-drinking pig to get the weekend started! "Dirty" dancing maybe???

  6. That arrow on the "El Rancho" sign makes me think it could have been the EEL Rancho!

  7. Is Mr. Plainsman wanting everyone to notice he's got a pager?

    1. I think he must be a doctor...Cliff Huxtable had one, right?

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. You've given me a new appreciation for my home town. Main Street was glorious in the 60s and 70s.