Newly refurbished

There are few ways I’d rather spend a weekend than up a ladder, a bucket lift, or a scaffold, paintbrush in hand, at some historic site on Route 66.

We rolled into Chandler at 7:30 this morning to begin a historic preservation project with the Oklahoma Route 66 Association at the beautiful and historic Lincoln Motel.

Here’s a “before” shot:

Our awesome friend Doug — who is a contractor and has a lot of experience with scaffolds — organized the assembly of our rented scaffold and helped keep me from going into full-on meltdown mode or falling off and killing myself when I had to get on and off of it.

I was the only member of our merry band with much experience handling neon, so once the scaffold was all set up, I reluctantly — and awkwardly — clambered to the top and stripped all the tubing off the front of the sign.

With the neon down, Route 66 artist Jerry McClanahan, who lives in Chandler, joined me atop the scaffold to scrape and paint the sign.

We made a rather intriguing discovery while we were scraping the lower part of the sign: Before it said “CABLE TV,” “MICROFRIDGES,” and “PHONES,” the bottom of the sign apparently said “REFRIGERATED AIR.” If you look closely, you can see the ghost image of the letters below:

The lettering style and the trapezoidal shape of the lower parts of the sign led us to suspect that it was designed by the same company that created the historic neon sign at the Rock Cafe in Stroud.

Here, we put the finishing touches on the top part of the sign.

Doug, Ron, McJerry, and our friend Brad were responsible for taking down the scaffold and moving it around to give us access to various parts of the sign.

I think the finished product looks pretty good. We’ll be back out there in the morning, giving the same treatment to the east side of the sign. If you’re out that direction, we’d love to have more volunteers. If you’re not comfortable with heights or paintbrushes, you can always stand on the ground and hand us tools and paint; take pictures; run errands; or just entertain us with wiseacre comments while we work.

Just be advised: Historic preservation is addictive. I’ve been at it since John and Lenore Weiss gave me my first hit at a Meramec Caverns barn in Hamel, Ill., in 2001, and I have no intention of quitting if I can help it.