Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Nebraska Zephyr

The Nebraska Zephyr by William 74
The Nebraska Zephyr, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I've photographed the Zephyr a number of times, and have related it's story here once before. Suffice to say, I always take advantage of any opportunity to photograph this beautiful machine. It is truly one of a kind.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see it during this visit to the Illinois Railway Museum. It wasn't scheduled to operate that Saturday, so I was surprised when I walked through it's storage shed to discover a big, Zephyr sized empty space and the bouquet of diesel fumes. It appears that they pulled it out and parked it to...I don't know, warm it up? Test the air conditioning? Whatever the reason, it was parked on a gentle curve, perfect for the classic old-school brochure shot. I secretly think it was done on purpose!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Doc Hudson

Doc Hudson by William 74
Doc Hudson, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A nicely presented Hudson Hornet sedan. I couldn't tell if it was original or a mellowed older restoration-either way it really popped on the show field.

A surprising number of kids shouted "DOC!" when they saw this car. He won the Piston Cup, after all!

Twin H Power

Friday, May 25, 2012

Keller's Good Food

Good Food by William 74
Good Food, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Vintage neon restaurant sign, in tiny Genoa City, Wisconsin. I think this building has been remodeled-that flagcrete facade doesn't look as old as the neon. Either way, I'm glad that Keller's has kept their sign intact.

Protected by the Pinkertons

The Pinkerton Agency is probably the world's most famous detective agency. They had offices everywhere in the U.S., and were involved in all manner of security work as well as investigations.

This vintage porcelain sign was on the door at the former Erickson Jewelers shop in Andersonville, a neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. The shop's neon sign hung there for quite some time after the shop closed as well. The space has since been turned into a restaurant, and I don't know if this little sign is still there. I rather doubt it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Warehouse by William 74
Warehouse, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Semi-abandoned warehouses. These are part of the Green River Ordnance Plant complex, a World War Two-era munitions factory. They've been used for a number of purposes since then, most recently as storage units, but they appear to be disused at the moment. A pair of railroad tracks still runs between the buildings, and one can still trace the rail's path to the former Illinois Central main line.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Jeep by William 74
Jeep, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A late Motorcar Monday entry (sorry!). We all know what a Jeep is-a bare bones off-road machine. And they don't come more bare-bones than a military Jeep. Originally developed by American Bantam in an amazing 49 days, the original Jeep is better known as a Willys product, as the military felt that Bantam wasn't a large enough company to supply enough vehicles. Eventually Ford produced Jeeps, during the war, and postwar Delahaye and Hotchkiss in France, as well as Mitsubishi and Toyota in Japan cranked them out as well.

Fun fact-for many years, you'd see ads for ex-military Jeeps "still in the crate", having been found in some backwater base in the desert Southwest, or rescued from a long forgotten supply depot on a tiny Pacific island. In fact, for a long time there were ads from collectors wanting to buy WW2 Jeeps still in their crates.

Jeeps never shipped in crates.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lake Aire

Lake Aire by William 74
Lake Aire, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is located just over the border from Illinois, and has been a popular weekend retreat for many years. Lots of cool old buildings in the area, including the excellent, old-school Lake Aire Restaurant, with this fantastic slab over the door.

The place is packed all summer long. Naturally I went when it was rainy and cold-I'm kind of glad. The colors really popped.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Window Shopping

Window Shopping by William 74
Window Shopping, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A funky antique shop in Rochelle, Illinois, that used to be in a bar or restaurant. At least, I think it was a restaurant, because the disused drive up window is still on one side. It's been unused for a real long time, though, because there's no outlet anymore-buildings have been put up since.

Anyway, I liked the packaging on these old trains, and I would love to take better shots of them from the other side of the window. I also like the car reflection-it turned out well.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Skylark by William 74
Skylark, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Originally part of the Roadmaster range, the Buick Skylark was introduced in 1953, along with two other special convertibles, the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta Convertible and the Cadillac Eldorado Series 62. The 'Lark was by far the most successful with about 1600 examples produced that year.

Essentially handmade, the Skylark differed from the Roadmaster in a number of ways. Most noticeably was the lowered windshield and seating, accomplished by the tried and true method of chopping the frame and lowering the seat frames. Between that and the new fenders and doors, the Skylark was basically a factory built custom car.

This one's a '53.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Olympic Restaurant

Olympic Restaurant by William 74
Olympic Restaurant, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The Olympic is a well known, classic restaurant in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Their sign has undergone some modifications-I'm pretty sure it said something other than "breakfast"-and Midwestern winters haven't done it many favors. But it still works, mostly, and the restaurant is still going strong in this fun little resort town.

I also have no idea what the Olympian Breakfast includes-I've never been there early enough!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


International by William 74
International, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This excellent set of ghost signs is tucked away in a back alley in Aurora, Illinois. This building used to be a warehouse and dealership for International trucks and implements, but I have no idea when that business moved. It has been in the process of being converted to other uses for about three or four years now. It seems they only got about as far as bricking up some windows and putting new glass in a few others.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Six Taillights

Six Taillights by William 74
Six Taillights, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Originally introduced in 1958, the Impala was Chevrolet's new top-of-the line model, positioned above the now famous Bel Air. Six small taillights were a styling hallmark of the model, carried through to the model's end in the 70's.

This one's a '60.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Hotpoint Appliances by William 74
Hotpoint Appliances, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I don't often show window signs for Neon Friday, but this vintage Hotpoint sign is so charming I had to share it. It's a pretty well kept original, and is in the side window of an old school appliance store, just off the Lincoln Highway in Morrison, Illinois.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Aurora Cycle

Aurora Cycle by William 74
Aurora Cycle, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
As befits a former railroad town, Aurora, Illinois has quite a few old industrial buildings dotting the downtown area. Similarly, there are still a few ghost signs hanging in there, usually hidden around the backs of these old warehouses and factories. This one hangs over the back door of what was at one time a factory, next door to a repurposed Allied Van Lines depot.

I've lived around here most of my life and have never seen this sign till last week. Just goes to show that you should always take a walk down the side streets and back alleys.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012