Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Redman's Yarn Emporium

Redman's Yarn Emporium by William 74
Redman's Yarn Emporium, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A vintage, faded, partially painted over sign in downtown Streator, Illinois. I imagine this started out as a knitting store and ended up just being a dime store or something, judging from the faded paint covering up "YARN". The store was undergoing a remodel when I walked past, judging from the construction debris in the doorway.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ten Thousand Lakes

Ten Thousand Lakes by William 74
Ten Thousand Lakes, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Another edition of Out Of State Plates! This is a vintage Minnesota plate, originally issued in 1965, and currently screwed to the back of a Shelby Cobra. Note the vintage '67 registration sticker in the corner.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Starved Rock Inn

Starved Rock Inn by William 74
Starved Rock Inn, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Characterized by it's canyons, Starved Rock State Park in Illinois is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. In addition to the park's natural beauty, it's also a very important historical site, with several individual attractions being on the National Register of Historic Places. Archaeological digs have shown the area to have been inhabited as far back as 8000 BC.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Coal Tower by William 74
Coal Tower, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The long-disused Chicago and North Western coal tower in DeKalb, Illinois. This tower straddles what was CNW's main line from Chicago to Omaha. It's still a major route for the Union Pacific today, although coal fired freights and streamliners no longer stop here to fill up.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Swindler II

Swindler II by William 74
Swindler II, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
We've talked about gassers once before, I think, so this week I'm just going to share a couple of shots of one of the most famous gassers of all time. The Stone-Woods-Cook team, along with "Ohio George" Montgomery and "Big John" Mazmanian, eventually came to both rule and define what made the perfect Willys gasser.

Owned by Fred Stone and Leonard Woods, Jr., and driven by Doug "Cookie" Cook, this car set numerous records in period, and won hundreds races during it's career. The team also was a rarity in the mid sixties, being one of the few racially integrated teams in racing. Owner Tim Woods (it was his son Leonard's name on the door, added to help keep young Lenny interested in the sport and out of trouble) was a succesful African-American businessman in the Los Angeles area, and formed a drag racing team with Fred Stone, a manager at his construction firm. Plenty of competitors had no idea that Woods was black, and in the end it really didn't matter as the team's results so often spoke for themselves.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Bowlway-Elgin, IL by William 74
Bowlway-Elgin, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Bowlway bowling alley in Elgin, Illinois. Not a vintage sign, but a cool one nonetheless. Again, all bowling alleys should have cool neon signs out front!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Return To Sioux City

Return To Sioux City by William 74
Return To Sioux City, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Before intermodal railcars became the norm, box cars were the standard way to ship many, if not most, goods. While the railroads owned many box cars, it was also very common for larger companies to own their own fleets of cars. And there's a lot of writing on these old box cars, with instructions for hooking up the brakes, securing the doors, maintenance, and in this case, where to send the empty box car after you've unloaded it.

This one happens to be a Swift and Co. box car, with instructions to send it back to Sioux City.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Catlow Theater

The Catlow Theater by William 74
The Catlow Theater, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Vintage neon at the Catlow Theater in Barrington, Illinois. Opened in 1927, this single screen gem also hosted stage shows, and still has most of its vintage charm. I believe this sign dates from the postwar period, probably the fifties. It has that look about it.

And, in a bright bit of news, until late last year, the Catlow was facing an uncertain future, due to the movie studios moving towards all-digital formats over old fashioned film. Upgrading costs typically go to about $100,000 per screen, something the Catlow's owners couldn't afford. Fortunately, a Kickstarter campaign raised the necessary funding, and this absolute gem of a theater can continue to serve the Barrington area (as evidenced by the fact that Skyfall is on the marquee!).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Masonic Temple

Masonic Temple by William 74
Masonic Temple, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A former Masonic Temple, latterly a banquet hall, in Aurora Illinois. Built in 1922, this neo-classical building has fallen on hard times the last few years. It's completely fenced off, including the sidewalks out front, presumably to protect passersby from falling masonry. The stone is stained and dirty, the bas relief Masonic symbols above the door and at the peak of the roof have smoothed out with the weather, windows are broken, and weeds grow atop the entryway. I don't know what the current status of this building is, but I fear it's endangered.

Masonic Temple

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sawicki Chevrolet

Sawicki Chevrolet by William 74
Sawicki Chevrolet, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

The logo on an old Chevrolet work truck, a late fifties Viking that's been left to the elements.

And, Sawicki Chevrolet is still a going concern.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Around the Clock

Around the Clock by William 74
Around the Clock, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Vintage neon sign outside of a vintage restaurant in Crystal Lake, Illinois. I'm told this sign works pretty well, too, and looks great all lit up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Coke Machine

Coke Machine by William 74
Coke Machine, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The bottle opener on a very old, very beat up, vintage Coca-Cola machine. This used to be chromed or nickel plated-it's beyond redemption now, I imagine.

The machine sits outside all the time, in front of a vintage fifties themed restaurant.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Lola by William 74
Lola, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

One of the legendary names in motorsports, Lola built cars for many formulae, including F1, 2, 3, 5000, Atlantic, and various USAC and Indy Car series. But they were probably best known for their sports cars-Lola's original GT was the progenitor to Ford's GT40, and the company was successful in endurance racing through much of the sixties.

The T70 was probably Lola's most successful sports car, and the hot setup in the early days of the Can-Am. The car's first major win came in 1965, with Walt Hansgen's win at Laguna Seca, and John Surtees went on to win the '66 championship running his own Chevrolet-powered example. Within a couple of seasons the McLaren M6 became unbeatable, despite improvements to the Lola (including a coupe version). However the T70's low(ish) cost and reliability helped it remain a popular racing car until the early 70's. They remain so today in historic racing.

This is a '67 Mark III spider, and was photographed this past summer at Road America.