Winchester Shopping Center, San Jose, 1952
For nearly half a century, this grande dame
of motel swimmers has held her position.
Winchester Shopping Center Sign
The Winchester Shopping Center sign, with its big red arrow and
vintage '50s script, has stood on the corner of Stevens Creek and
Winchester boulevards since 1952. This great neon beacon predates
Valley Fair and has survived countless incarnations of its associated
shopping center. Will someone please turn this sign on!?
City Center Motel Sign, San Jose, c. 1959
City Center Motel Sign
Mariani’s Motel in Santa Clara used to have a neon diving
lady on their sign. GONE. So did the Park View Motel
in San Jose. GONE. On the corner of South 1st and
Reed streets in San Jose, however, the neon bathing beauty of the
City Center Motel still takes a plunge. For nearly half a century,
this grande dame of motel swimmers has held her position. Fortunately,
folks were kind enough to provide her with her own water supply as
they did away with the motel pool some years ago.
Western Motel Sign, Santa Clara, 1959
Western Motel Sign
The Western Motel on El Camino Real in Santa Clara opened in 1948. The
Western sign, essentially a giant neon cactus, came about a decade
later – in 1959. An excellent example of mid-century
roadside architecture, better catch it soon as the motel property
has been slated for the development of condos and the sign, as I
have been told, is going to a private collector.
Babe The Muffler Man
Babe’s Muffler Service has been doing business on the Alameda
in San Jose since 1953. In an effort to attract more customers,
Babe “The Muffler Man” was brought onto the scene in
the 1960s. Babe is one of at least a hundred giant muffler
men statues situated throughout the United States, but he’s
the only one that I know of who carries a hockey stick. In
gratitude for his years of dedication to both sound mufflers and
the San Jose Sharks, Babe has been designated a San Jose City Landmark.