Monday, October 26, 2015

Egg-sit stage left: The new location of Coral Springs, Florida's Humpty Dumpty sculpture

Of all the Humpty Dumpty sculptors in the world, we like Kimber Fiebiger best.

Mr. Dumpty looks out on this cool artwork by Zachary Knudson. 

A little while ago, we blogged about the fabulous Humpty Dumpty sculpture in our recently relocated Eccentric Roadside world headquarters hometown of Coral Springs, Florida (read about it here, why don't you). It has come to our attention that Mr. Dumpty has now been moved to a new, more prominent location. Coral Springs has put in a beautification project called ArtWalk on Northwest 31st Court, just down the road from Mr. Dumpty's old digs and he now sits on a new wall for all to admire. He's in a much sunnier spot than before, though, so we hope he won't fry. There are some other cool sculptures along the way and the plan is to keep adding more. Art for art's sake, money for God's sake. We can't say how much we love this piece of whimsical merriment. Thanks, Coral Springs for putting the egg in egg-centric. You're all you're cracked up to be, and that's no yolk.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Our house is a very, very, very fine mouse: The Truly Nolen mouse building of Pompano Beach, Florida

Drivers on busy I-95 South get to see this awesome sight!

 How can you kill something so cute, Truly?

 The truly awesome Truly Nolen limousine.

We were lucky enough to spot a Truly Nolen classic Nash Metropolitan in Tucson, Arizona. Note the Muffler Man in the background. Score! Read about it here.

If you're going to be in the business of killing household pests, it pays to have a sense of humor. At least it does if you're the Truly Nolen company. They've been around since the 1930s and have employed many whimsical promotional devices over the years. In the 1950s, they began using a fleet of classic cars as moving billboards emblazoned with their company name. This led to a red VW bus made to look like a giant ant, which was the forerunner of today's Truly Nolen yellow mouse car — VW bugs and Toyota Yarises in lemony hues and appointed with round mouse ears, long black mouse tails and cute faces painted on their fronts. They've even got a mouse limousine (lim-mouse-sine?) that makes visits to schools. Their Pompano Beach, Florida headquarters building has taken the mouse concept even further. It's the same bright yellow, with a red mouse nose and whiskers attached to the corner and beneath two round black windows resembling their trademark mouse ears. And it can be seen quite clearly from busy Interstate 95 south. Marketing brilliance.

And if you're wondering about the name, Truly Nolen is a person. Truly Wheatfield Nolen was the founder of the company, and the family has kept the Truly name going for three generations. Other names in the family are Really Nolen, and Sincere Leigh Nolen (I kid you not — it's on their website). Keep up the eccentricity, Truly Nolen. We dig you, truly.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baring their soles to deliver the mail: The barefoot mailman statue of Hillsboro Beach, Florida

 There are lots of iguanas on hand to pay their respects...

 ...and you may see a parrot or two in the trees.

From 1885-92, the mail route between eastern coastal Lake Worth and Miami, Florida was not what you'd call highly trafficked. Or even paved, for that matter. There was no road to deliver the mail south of Lake Worth but this didn't stop the mighty mail carriers from getting letters and packages through to Victorian southeastern Floridians. Mail was brought by boat as far as practical and mailmen would then get out and make deliveries by foot, sans footwear, along the beaches. The route was 136 miles round trip and took six days. Twenty eight miles were done by row boat and, remarkably, the remaining 108 by foot. And I thought I had a lengthy commute. This delivery system was in place until a rock road from Lantana to Lemon City was completed in 1892. There were 11 barefoot mailmen and one, a Mr. James "Ed" Hamilton, disappeared in 1887, perhaps the lunch of an alligator.  A statue honoring Mr. Hamilton and the others sits in front of the Hillsboro Beach municipal hall. There, he looks out at the beach route, A1A, with a spring in his step and a mailbag over his shoulder, but no togs on his dogs. An added bonus are the many iguanas that sunbathe on the rocks and lawn at his feet. Would G-mail risk an alligator attack and sunstroke to get you the latest email blast from Amazon or Expedia? Doubtful. So here's to you, barefoot mailmen. You went through the agony of the feet for the thrill of vic-toe-ry.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

And the rest is huskory: Looking out the window at the great state of Nebraska

I've visited 46 of the US states and can honestly say it's been a thrill to see every one. One place in particular, not normally known as a vacation destination, is the great state of Nebraska. If you're traveling by car from the east coast to the west, you know you're a long, long way from home when you get to Nebraska, and you've still got a long, long way to go. We took one of our all-time best detours when we drove a couple hours northwest off of Interstate 80 to the small town of Alliance to see Carhenge, the replica of Stonehenge made out of old cars. Well worth the trip, and the getting there really was fun. Who knew Nebraska was full of such pretty sandhills, plains with those cliche windmilly things and lonesome, melancholy small towns? People from Nebraska, I imagine, but its beauty was quite a revelation to us native New Englanders. Maybe Nebraska should be a vacation destination after all, dad gummit. Here are a few shots of our travels through the Cornhusker State, some shot from the highway, some when we got out to stretch our legs a bit. How can you not love a state whose state beverage is milk, state dance is the square dance, and state song is "Beautiful Nebraska"? Long may your goldenrod bloom, Western meadowlark sing and White-tailed deer roam.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

No need to be coy Arroyo: The small charms of Arroyo Grande, California

We had the privilege of working our way down the California coastline back in 2011 and happened upon the charming village of Arroyo Grande in San Luis Abispo County. It was a bright, sunny late morning with very few people about and it gave me the sense of an early 1960s "Twilight Zone" set; pleasant but melancholy. I love small towns like this and seeing them on long trips is every bit as satisfying as visiting the big tent-pole sights like the Grand Canyon or the World's Biggest You Name It. Small but Grande...I like that.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Futuristic presents from the past: West Palm Beach, Florida's fantastic mid-century transportation exhibit

In the 1950s, American car makers were on top of the world and autos couldn't be too heavy, aggressive-looking or laden with chrome. A vehicle was a status symbol and the more it looked like a rocket ship headed for Mars, the more we Americans liked it. Car makers would create fantastic concept vehicles with big fins, bubble tops and huge, jet-like dual exhaust pipes to test the waters of potential car buyers. If a dramatic chrome bumper treatment was a big hit, maybe next year's Buick Roadmaster would feature it. Armies of incredibly talented engineers, designers and artists put these one-of-a-kind vehicles on the auto show floor under strict top secret conditions. So top secret, in fact, that most of the brilliant drawings and models were destroyed, lest the competition catch wind of their precious ideas. Luckily for car buffs, transportation historians and mid-century hipster fans, a Mr. Frederic Sharf began preserving these items years ago and amassed an amazing collection of thousands of drawings and artifacts. West Palm Beach, Florida's Norton Museum of Art is currently exhibiting a fraction of of these pieces called "Going Places" and it features not just cars, but also planes, trains and even a hybrid car/helicopter or two, all with a tomorrow is here today theme.

The craftsmanship and technical virtuosity of the artwork is Photoshop shortcuts for these guys. The illustrations are all hand-painted and drawn in a heightened state of super-idealized reality. The future seemed so bright in these pieces, with their unrealistically perfect people and dreamy sophisticated backgrounds. If this is what life could be like in the 1950s, then surely we'd all be wearing jet-packs and driving car-planes by 1965, wouldn't we? A portion of the exhibit also features original advertising illustrations of regular, less showy cars for sale at your local Chevy, Oldsmobile or Ford dealer and again, for something as seemingly mundane as a magazine advertisement, the technique of these artworks is extraordinary. The chrome gleams, the reflections on the finish and tail lights shine and the backgrounds are packed with idealized suburban scenes or sophisticated city folks on the town. I want to be there, I think to myself when I see these.

The show will be up until January 2016, so check it out if you're going to be in South Florida. Don't let the future pass you by.

Oh, and since it's the Norton Museum of Art, I simply couldn't resist adding this.