While the rest of the world is rewarding the nastiest publicity stunt in recorded history with continued press coverage ten years after the fact (seriously, y’all: Didn’t your mama ever tell you that if you pick at it, it’ll never heal?) I am reliving a more pleasant anniversary: One year ago today, I was on a scaffold in front of the Lincoln Motel in Chandler, feeding my addiction to historic preservation by helping scrape and repaint the old neon sign that advertises the property.
Appropriately enough, Ron and I spent the anniversary of this project touring the historic Boots Motel in Carthage, Mo., which is under new ownership and is undergoing restoration work as we speak. Neon junkie that I am, I immediately offered to repaint the sign and make patterns for replacement tubes to relight it. I hope the owners will take me up on that. The Boots has particular significance for me, partly because it’s where I began my love affair with mom-and-pop motels on Route 66 (it was the first historic motel I ever slept in on the Mother Road), and partly because it was the site of one of the first preservation battles I was involved in (a successful letter-writing campaign that scared off Walgreen’s after a developer bought the property in 2003 with the intent of flipping it to the drugstore giant at a ridiculous profit).
If the Boots sign project happens, it will be one of six historic preservation projects I’m trying to line up at three properties in two states over the next eight to ten months. I can’t go into a lot of detail just yet, but suffice it to say I am hoping to end fall break, spring break, and the first part of my summer tired, filthy, sunburned, and spattered with paint — just the way I like it. 😀
Speaking of Route 66 preservation, I have to give a shout-out to the Bill Haynes Company, which gave the Blue Whale a free makeover last week, repairing cracks in the concrete, priming it, sealing it, and brightening it up with an elaborate ceramic paint job that should last a long time. Go out there and take a look if you get the chance; it looks terrific.