The Rexall sign at the Connolly’s Pharmacy in my neighborhood is illuminated again! When I went by on my lunch hour a few days ago, I saw a truck with a ladder extended to the sign, and I thought for sure it was being removed for good, but when I came by after work, it was lit up for the first time in my memory! I’m an Old Time Radio fan, and I’ve been working my way through the Phil Harris and Alice Faye program, sponsored by Rexall. Every episode opens with the word “Good Health to All from Rexall” and now I hear those words every time I drive by!
When I was growing up, Rexall stores were everywhere. Now they’re gone. To see more pictures of Rexall signs, check out this collection by state on the Roadside American site: Rexall Drug Store Signs, or Flickr’s Rexall Drug Store Group.
To learn more about the rise and fall of Rexall drugstores, read The Rexall Story: A History of Genius and Neglect by Mickey C. Smith.
44 Bay Road
South Hamilton, Massachusetts
The Hilltop Steak House in Saugus is closing. This super-sized restaurant was once one of the busiest in the country, but it’s been in decline for years. I’m sorry to see it go — I’ve never eaten there, but the kitschy architecture with the giant cactus and the herd of plastic cows out front has been part of my life for most of my adult life.
I just worked out the math and I’ve passed this restaurant over 10,000 times, going to work, school, concerts, theatre, professional meetings, family parties, and the airport. It’s impossible to ignore it. I use that cactus as a marker of distance and time — when I get to that point I have a pretty good idea of whether I’m running late or doing OK. And I always look over at those cows, just to make sure they’re there. And every December I enjoy seeing them in their Santa hats. I always meant to stop and take some pictures of them and when I heard they were closing, I hoped that they’d wait until after Christmas. But they are closing next Saturday, so I guess I’ll never have the chance.
Unless they auction them off…
I have always liked the big blue sign at the Beverly YMCA. I like bulb signs, and you don’t see too many around anymore. And I liked the color — blue is my favorite color, and blue seemed like an appropriate color for this location which is just a few blocks from the shore.
Somehow in all the years that I have lived here, and with all the time I spend right in this neighborhood, I never got around to photographing it until last August. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer, because the next time I was there a week or so later the sign was gone, sent off for a much-needed restoration, as I learned from this article:
Give me a Y…Century-old Beverly sign getting back in shape by Paul Leighton, Salem News, August 15, 2012
According the article, Jess Hanson of Star Sign Company was originally planning to scrape the sign down and repaint it, but he discovered that underneath all the paint was the original cobalt blue porcelain, which he could restore.
The new sign went up a few months ago. I love old porcelain panels because they remind me of old diner exteriors and my grandfather’s kitchen table. I love cobalt blue because it reminds me of old Evening in Paris bottles, which I considered to be the height of elegance when I was a child.
You’ll notice that most of the things I like are because they remind me of something. But one of the good things about getting old is that practically everything reminds me of something.
This brick building on Pleasant Street in downtown Malden, Massachusetts, has ghost signs on both sides, reading: Buy Your Stoves and Ranges at Black’s Furniture… I have always loved ghost signs — when I was a child they seemed like secret messages from the past. I was glad that I was there at this time of year. There are lots of branches by the signs on either side of the building, and I think it would be hard to get a picture of as much of the sign when there are leaves on the trees.
I found a postcard mailed in 1907 showing the store on CardCow.
As you can see from the picture below, it doesn’t look that different today.
265 Cabot Street