It’s a Sign!

When I was in my junior year of college, I lived on the fourth floor of one of the original buildings.  Only two rooms (both triples) and no elevator.  I shared with two other women who had, like I had, lived in a single room our sophomore years.  Knowing we would probably get low numbers in the room choice lottery after having singles, we banded together to get a better room than if we struck out alone.

The other room on our floor was also a triple with 3 seniors.  They weren’t around all that much and we didn’t really socialize with them.  So we were surprised when they lugged a full sized Mobil Gas Pegasus sign up the steps and installed it in the hallway between the two rooms.  We spent the rest of the year explaining it to anyone brave enough to come up to the fourth floor!  Personally I never understood the appeal.

I moved to my current house about 30 years ago – about three blocks from the old Boulevard Theatre.  As the years went by, it deteriorated until it just couldn’t afford to stay open.  People were outrated and actually picketed in front of the theatre with it’s huge iconic sign.  Eventually the owners agreed to keep the sign although the theatre was no more.  It is still there, looking rattier and tattier by the year.

And now more signage in my neighborhood is in the news.  The Aqua City Motel and Metro Inn, a little farther down on Lyndale have their iconic signage up for sale.  Both properties actually belong to Hennepin County these days, having been purchased during pandemic when the county was using both motels for temporary housing.  Right now both properties are empty and awaiting renovation into affordable housing. 

I wasn’t crazy about the pegasus sign, I think the Boulevard sign is ridiculous looking and I can’t even imagine why anyone would want a Metro Inn or Aqua City sign but I’m sure that there is someone out there who will think they are purchasing a piece of history and will shell out way too much cash for it.  Takes all kinds.

Any iconic signs you remember from your childhood?  Have you ever acquired a sign?

39 thoughts on “It’s a Sign!”

    1. Wes, I know you exhorted me to do Route 66 on this, my 66th year. This begs the question of whether you’ve driven route 66?


  1. I understand the pegasus. I think it’s striking and iconic and if I lived in a loft/studio sort of space it would be just the thing. The motel signs don’t have the same appeal. At Hunt & Gather at 50th and Xerxes one can buy individual letters from vintage signs and likely other ex-sign pieces which, in the right setting would be fun.

    Back when I was in college, I phoned the Naegele billboard company to ask them if they had any leftover billboards they didn’t want and they said “yes”, so I drove out and they gave me a stack of folded portions. I never ended up doing anything memorable with them but it’s remarkable to me, looking back, that they were so freely available. It’s still possible to get used or surplus billboards but they are all vinyl now and you have to buy them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For a short time in early 2000s, both son Joel and Nephew lived with us. We all drove some sort of Saturn. One day as I drove into the (double) garage, I saw a sign that read “Saturn Parking Only.” I didn’t ask, just kind of chuckled… I think I heard the story later, but don’t remember who found it, or where.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    The only sign we have here is the one Lou’s mother gave us with his last name and a Norwegian gnome called Neisse.

    After Pi Day we drove right by the old Boulevard movie theater sign, and I thought, “Man that looks bad. Why don’t they take that down?” VS, this thought was entirely unprompted by you, but great minds and all that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think that the building is doing well. I know part of the space is still for lease after many years and I can’t envision that the businesses there are bringing in massive amounts of money. So for them to take that sign down now and redo the front of the building is probably financially prohibitive.


      1. I would bet it is not doing well. As a former business owner I would not rent space there because it looks so bad and seedy. They are probably caught in the loop of not enough money to fix it because it looks so bad no one wants to rent there.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. This is exactly what happened to the Boulevard Theater before it went under. As it got rattier, people quit going.


  4. Afternoon. Today the work computer and WP remember who I am. Huh.
    I like the Pegasus sign too.
    There was a late night drive to Winona way back when with a stop at a substation along the way because we thought the cartoon image of the man being shocked was funny. Maybe someone obtained a sign, I wouldn’t know about that…

    There must have been some sign, but I don’t remember them…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. my friend craig blacklock’s dad was a famous wildlife photographer. he got his start making the hamns land of sky blue water sign where it looked like the water was running . it hung on every bar wall in minnesota and many garage and basement bar walls since
    i still see it regularly
    all the marvelous work he’s done that’s his famous piece

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My mother remembered a time when my sister was very small that she was quite taken with the Great Northern Goat. The goat was something of an imaginary friend to her. My mom remembered that my sister would wail “You slammed the door on the Great Northern Goat’s tail!” if she shut a door too fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A good friend gave me a sign several years ago that says “I have flying monkeys and I’m not afraid to use them”. I love this thing — it’s in my dining room.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I also liked the Soo Line sign that I used to see from the bus in downtown Minneapolis. Favorite, though, is the 1 on the First National Bank Building in downtown St. Paul. Still lit up regularly. I din’t go look to see if it was green today, but it may well have been, in honor of St.Patrick’s Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The old MINNOWS sign on Hwy 371 between Brainerd and Nisswa, before Cinosam Road. It meant we were almost to Grandma and Grandpa’s cabin. (Sorry for the delay.)

    Liked by 1 person

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