Vintage Signage Post: Merrill Motel & The Polar Bear

I’ve been a longtime fan of old signs. I think they’re so much more interesting than today’s common backlit box signs. They’re more expensive, but are a great detail for any business.

Driving around Southern California there are still a lot of cool old signs around, although they are being torn down on the regular. I lost all my old pictures on my last computer (an expensive and sad lesson learned about the values of external hard drives) so I often bring my camera with me to recapture old faves and stop whenever I come across new-to-me vintage gems.

Over the Summer I took a trip up in the PNW where we passed through many interesting towns. One of them was Merrill, Oregon. I loved the look of a small motel and diner.

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This sign is a bit more contemporary than what I usually stop for, but I loved the wooden “welcome” sign underneath the motel sign.

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Just off the road are the rooms– I don’t know if it is just these 3, but I love their shade covering; it has a little Googie vibe.

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Then just down the road we came upon the Polar Bear. It looked like an awesome classic diner.

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Their neon sign has some deco details and I thought the painted windows were pretty cute!

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Their burger & fries sign with arrow may have seen better days, but it has the patina of classic advertising. Both businesses were pleasant surprises to the vintage traveler out on the road.


Retro Building Revamp on Whittier Blvd.

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In 2015, Friendly Hills Bowl on Whittier Blvd. closed its doors. It had been a staple in Whittier for many years and I was concerned about losing the awesome “Googie” architecture on the famous street. Last Fall, Aldi supermarket and BevMo opened their doors on the property and I was happy to see they worked in some of the vintage elements from the original property.

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This sign once read “BOWL” with purple diamonds. I was so excited to see that they reworked the signage.

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You can see the stone wall and strong lines on the roof– these were all from the bowling alley.

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I shot these in October when BevMo had just opened and Aldi was nearly open. You can see the “Friendly Hills” sign which is original design but with updated color. The diamonds below used to read “bowl”– I love that signage from the bowling alley was still able to be used.

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This image is from the Whittier Daily News site and you can see the original “bowl” signage before it was redone. The link to the story is here.

Vintage Ephemera Friday #007

Ephemera is defined as something that is not meant to last long– often paper goods. I find myself picking up matchbook covers, postcards, and old magazines at estate sales, flea markets, etc. I know that there are plenty others who dig this stuff too so I’ve decided to post a new piece every Friday as a series, “Vintage Ephemera Friday,” or #VEF on IG.

I encourage anyone else who reads this to also post cool old ephemeral goods (old papers, pins, magnets, pretty much all advertisement goods, whatever you like!) and post it with both “#VintageEphemeraFriday” and “#VEF” tags so in the future others can search through the collective finds.

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I’ve always loved postcards and I used to have a goal of finding “Greetings From…” themed cards from each state. Due to their popularity, I’ve only come across 2 out in the wild (by wild I mean not searching for them to buy online). This Alaskan card is one of them. I love how each letter has a scene special from the state.

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It wasn’t used through the mail, but you can see the stamp space says it is a one cent stamp. With Alaska joining the union in 1959, I am a little confused on the timeline. I don’t know how many visitors were there before it became a state that would send out postcards. You will note that the card calls it a territory so it’s definitely pre-1959.

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Please feel free to join in and post your vintage ephemera finds here or on IG on Fridays! #vintageephemerafriday #vef