You know, every once in awhile in this business, there is "something" you come across and it takes your breath away. I'm reminded not only of "why" I love what I do, but "where" I have my business as well! I was born and raised in Long Beach, CA and still live here today. I watched over the years as Long Beach tore down such things as the old Pike, the great old library and courthouse. The Pike was part of Long Beach's history and the old buildings were just tore down and replaced with other regular everyday buildings. I felt that as if Long Beach disposed of their history. My store, Country Roads, is located in Old Towne Orange, CA. What I love about being in Old Towne is that it is a historic little area. It's on the CA list of historic areas that have certain restrictions of what you can and cannot build or change. With that said, on to my story. Years ago, a little bit north of Buellton, CA there was a little restaurant built called Mullen's Dining Cars. I believe it was built in the mid 1940's. Two old trolleys were purchased and moved up to Northern CA from Los Angles or Huntington Beach depending on where you read about them. And after that, the restaurant was built. It was great in it's day as you can see from the pictures below.
I love the neon "bow tie" light fixture on the ceiling! It looks like the lights next to the "bow tie" are also neon. I can only imagine how great this looked when it was first built!
Above are a couple of pictures of the "dining cars" and how they were decorated as part of the restaurant. I love the color of the old flooring! The white crackled paint and the pink colors on the doorways from car to car are pretty cool as well.
While reading about the "Mullen's Dining Cars" restaurant, I think, and I'm may not be entirely correct, the restaurant was sold in the early 1950's. It was sold a few times after that, but never could make a go of it since Highway 101 had changes and moved further away from the restaurant than it use to be. And since the restaurant was no longer near they highway, the business suffered. And sadly, back in 1958, this great looking little cafe that was constructed from historic pieces of the past, never reopened. And it slowly began to lose the charm and beauty that it once had back in its day!
Late in the 1980's, Anke Haas and her husband bought the land that the vacant diner sat on. It is below the land where the house is and they reside.
I love these pictures of the old neon signs. Many of the pictures on this blog post came from the internet except for the ones below. I would love to give credit to those that took the pictures, but was unable to find exactly who these people were. Let's fast forward to today, and the pictures below belong to us, as in my Country Roads family. Shawn and Jennie are part of this family of mine that I always so lovingly refer to. They also share that connection and love of our history, the past, and everything old. So, somehow Shawn was able to contact the owners of this property and purchased the two neon signs from them. Next came not only getting them to Country Roads, but taking them down while at the same time not breaking any of the old neon lighting.
Above is what the restaurant looks like today. It just breaks my heart to see a piece of history left to rot. Below is a picture of "the boys" beginning the project of getting the sign of the roof. Shawn, my son Bryce, and Mike tackled this project with great care.
My son Bryce is on the bottom left, Shawn is on the right, and Mike is in the back.
Success! One sign down, and one to go. At least the next old sign was on the ground. Although not in as good as condition, it was much easier to get down, and it too still is an amazing piece of history!
Everyone was excited the day the signs came inside to Country Roads. The neon had been handled with great care. The sign on the roof was delicately placed on an industrial table in Shawn's space inside of Country Roads. The neon was put back into the sign very, very carefully and I remember standing there when the moment came to plug it in. I can't exactly put it into words what it means to see something like this sign, plugged in and watch it light up. A piece of history had been saved thanks to the "boys"!
After the great project was done, it was time for Shawn and Jennie to head to their new home in Iowa. They all had a mission to do before leaving. The signs had to be saved, and with that done, now Shawn and Jennie were off to start another chapter in their lives. No worries, they will be keeping their space at Country Roads, and in case you are interested, the signs are for sale. What a great thing to own! You know, there are days at Country Roads that people push your buttons, you work so hard, and go home exhausted at night. But then, "every once in awhile", you are reminded why you LOVE what you do so very much!!