Fair sign flashes on

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The Museum of Neon Art in downtown L.A. (136 W. 4th), which already has Montclair’s old Midway Building Materials sign with its animated bricklayer in its collection (albeit in storage), is now displaying a familiar sign from Pomona: County Fair Pie A La Mode.

It’s on loan from James McDemas and John English and will be displayed indefinitely. Nice setting, too.

Museum executive director Kim Koga told me the duo “got all three of the pie-a-la-mode neon signage and all of the smaller hand-painted signs that went along with it.” They apparently did not get any pie or ice cream, however.

Here’s an earlier blog post about the museum.

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  • Kristy

    Love it! :D Glad to know my place of work has had such an impact on the history of Los Angeles since 1922.

    [You know it, Kristy. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I went to the museum at the time it opened and the exhibits were sparse. I hope that all of the things you report here are there for a while, because I need to get up the energy to go again.

    I wish that neon signs had not gone out of style. Is neon a lost art because of the lack of interest on the part of artists, or is it just too expensive to maintain (in normal times)? I notice that small businesses in the Stater Bros. strip mall have neon signage that, I assume, is provided by the sponsors of the products they are selling. It adds so much to the appearance of the respective businesses that have it.

    [Neon is coming back for businesses, I think, since it conveys an instantly vintage look. The SoCal Eats exhibit ends the 28th, I believe, but the Pie sign should be there a while. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Used to go to Midway Building Materials in the ’50s with my Dad, a dedicated DIYer. The movin’ mason brought a little life to a dreary stretch of Holt.

    I know you did an article about the closing of the Toad in the Hole (The Aristocrat of Foods) at the Fair. And I know their outstanding neon sign was altered towards the end, but does anyone know its current whereabouts? Also, I recall a few other great neon signs in the Fair’s original semi-circular food court across from the grandstands — but can’t recall specific restaurant names. Anybody know? I found photos of TITH on Google and Flickr, but not of the other establishments.

    [I don't know the whereabouts of the Toad sign. I'd have assumed the Fair had it, but then, I'd have assumed the same thing about Pie A La Mode. -- DA]

  • Ren

    Good to hear. Am still trying find out what happened the L.A. County Fair neon sign that used to hang across Holt Ave. between Indian Hill and Mills. It looked like the one that you see on the corner of White and McKinley there at the Fair. But this one was made to hang across the street. I think it came down in the late ’60s.

  • JMac

    Bob, a few that I recall residing within that crescent were Tom’s Hamburgers, Bonnies Breakfast, and my favorite, Carmens Mexican Food. The latter two were the bookends, as I recall. That leaves two or three others, I think. Naturally, I have no idea if those were the original establishments, but they were there when I was growing up in the ’60s.

    As for Fair-related neon, nothing touches the archway to the Fun Zone.

  • DUNCAN FOX

    I CLEARLY REMEMBER THE OL ”POMONA VALLEY CREAMERY” NEON MILK-BOTTLE SIGN DOWN ON ‘EAST. SECOND AVE.’ BACK IN THE ’1950′S – IT STAYED ON ALL NIGHT!!

  • DUNCAN FOX

    ANOTHER ‘GREAT’ NEON SIGN OF ‘OLD POMONA’ (1950′S) WAS THE ”BEAUTIFUL” SEAPY’S RESTAURANT SIGN ON THE CORNER OF HOLT & SAN ANTONIO – IT HAD A NEON PINK-FACE OF PORKY PIG HOLDING A HOT-STEAMING DINNER PLATTER. IT BECAME A FURNITURE STORE LATER!! WONDER WHERE THAT LOVELY SIGN WENT?

  • Linda Frost

    Does anyone remember the Valley Drive-In Theater at Central and Holt? It had a beautiful neon sign with a man driving a wagon and team superimposed over an agricultural background in front of the mountains. It was a tragedy to lose such a piece of local culture.

    I remember the Midway Building Materials sign and the Fair sign on Foothill. There was the cow at the Ontario Creamery on Holt Blvd., too. Does anyone know if the Bamboo Hut sign at Holt and Campus is still there? I have not been that direction in many years. As a child, I went to tap and ballet lessons at a dancing school across the street from it.

    [The Bamboo Hut sign, and the building, are both gone. I think the owner took the sign up to Hesperia for a business there. -- DA]

  • Linda Vincent-Huff

    Loved your article on the fair signs of past; brought back good memories. I worked at the Dairy Bar for 12 Fairs. Your mention of Seapys made me think of the many times we went under Holt Ave through the tunnel from PHS (class of 58) to Seapys for their great hamburgers (35 cents). My hubby does not agree. He thinks Mels was best ever. Its good to think of the old days in Pomona. We grew up in a great little town. We tried to raise our kids there too but it was not to be. Thanks for the memories.

    Linda Vincent-Huff

  • Steve Lustro

    Hey! Why is the Midway Building Materials sign in storage? I went to a lot of trouble to coordinate having that sign donated to MONA — LOL. Well, maybe someday they’ll put the mason back to work again!

    [Their current space, unlike their previous space, doesn't allow for such large signs. They couldn't get the sign through the door! But there are tentative plans to move to a larger space in Glendale next year, which would allow the Midway mason and other oversized signs to go back on display. -- DA]