Great State: Signs Pointing to a Billboard Museum on Rt 66

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- When Jim Gleason drives the streets of Oklahoma CIty he notices things most other drivers pretend they don't.

"They don't see it until it's gone," he says. "Ninety percent of the time they're junked. They go into salvage."

Gleason is in the sign business.

The catch-all name is outdoor advertising.

He knows the history of his business too.

Jim can spot an old porcelain sign a mile off, or an old billboard still mounted on top of building.

If he can save them, "We look at them as restoration or preservation."

At Superior Neon he's restored a few of the old beauties.

At a hidden warehouse in an industrial section of the city lie a treasure trove of signage past.

Kathy Anderson got a chance to drive Route 66 just before it was de-commissioned from the federal highway system.

She remembers a lot of the billboards she passed and has studied the ones that have come and gone since.

Outdoor advertising might be something people often complain about, but their images took snapshots of American life.

"Not only do they evoke the era," she says. "The art style, the graphics, they're just fabulous."

Bill Condon is in the billboard business.

He appreciates these images too.

"They definitely have the ability to get in front of lots of sets of eye balls," he says.

All three are part of a board of directors raising funds and planning to someday open a billboard museum along Route 66 in Oklahoma, a place to celebrate American outdoor advertising.

Kathy Anderson states, "It's an interesting mix of people who support this project."

"Now all you need is a building with a sign out front," jokes a warehouse visitor.

Kathy replies, "A really big building and a whole lot of land."

They found the old Taft Stadium sign.

The old Ralph's Drug neon is saved here, as is the Rio Siesta Motel sign that used to hang in Clinton, Oklahoma.

They are an interesting part of our subconscious life, un-noticed until they're gone, or until we see them again.

For more information about the proposed museum or how to help go to http://www.bilboardmuseum.org or http://www.facebook.com/BillboardMuseum

 

 

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