Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Signs! Signs! Signs!

Woke up to a glorious day - sunshine!!!  Seems like it has been forever since we saw the sun.

When I'm traveling and I arrive in a town, one of the first things I do is go to the Tripadvisor website.  This website lists different attractions for the particular city that you are interested in.  People who have visited the city write reviews and sometimes you can find some really interesting things to do or see that you normally would not even know about.  So today was the day that we were going to see the American Sign Museum based on reviews from Tripadvisor. 

Just the thought of the American Sign Museum amused me but the thing that really got me was that if you signed up for a tour they would take you to a working neon shop which I thought would be fascinating.  I made reservations for the 11:00 tour and we headed across town.  We ended up in sort of an industrial area which gave me pause for a minute but as soon as we passed thru the security gates I knew we were in for a treat.

Besides what you see above, they also had a giant pink pig on wheels plus a few other oversize signs.

We gathered with several others for the tour.  The Sign Museum mostly has signs from the early 1900s to about 1970.  We started with basic trade signs - the type where you would display what your shop was about outside - such as a big wooden hat if you were a hatter, or a wrench if you sold tools.

As people became more literate, signs started using letters to advertise.  They became quite fancy.  These signs used glass etching and also actual gold leaf.  Gold leaf is extremely delicate and it must have taken many many hours to create these signs. 

We then moved on to the old movie marquees of the twenties and thirties.  This was the era of the light bulbs - hundreds and hundreds of light bulbs spelling out what was showing.  They also had movie show posters which were all drawn and colored by hand.  A lot of movie houses had on staff somebody whose job it was to create these posters.

We then moved on to the Neon age.  In the beginning you would only see two colors depending on which type of gas you used.  Neon would produce red and argon would produce the blue color.  Then they started making glass tubes that had color painted on the inside and all of a sudden you could have any color of neon that you wanted. 

The displays were amazing - I felt like it was Vegas or The Great White Way.

This was 20,000 square feet of glowing pizazz.   Our tour guide would talk about the individual signs and how the museum acquired it.  They also had another 20,000 square foot warehouse filled with signs that were just waiting to be displayed.

After we saw the signs, we moved to the Neon factory.  The neon artist showed us how they take glass tubes and bend them into the shape that you want.  Electrodes are attached to each end and then you fill the tubes with neon or argon.  Once you hook up the electrodes to electricity, they glow.  There is no heat and they seem to last forever.  It was fascinating.  I'm thinking I need to take this up as a hobby (or maybe a career?)  I highly recommend anybody visiting Cincinnati, check out the American Sign Museum.

On the way back to the RV, we stumbled across the Spring Grove Cemetery.  This was also highly rated on Tripadvisor so we swung through.  This place was massive.  Many people use this Cemetery as a park to picnic or jog in.  I don't think I've ever seen so many mausoleums or such impressive statuary and grave markers.  It was almost like everybody tried to outdo their neighbors when they decided on how they wanted to mark their graves.  I think they give tours - that would be something that I would find interesting to do. 

One of the mausoleums:

After our little cemetery side trip, we got back to the RV and set up some chairs and sat out in the sun, just enjoying the day.  This was just a wonderful day - laid back and interesting also.

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