We're huge fans of the immortal Don Knotts and wanted to give him a shout-out on what would have been his 90th birthday. We had the pleasure of stopping by his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia a while back. Click here to read all about it.
There's an auto repair shop on the corner of South 50th Street and Causeway Boulevard in Tampa, Florida that bills itself as The Original Muffler City (not one of those ersatz, faux, or phony baloney Muffler Cities) and they have just the mascot to prove it standing out front: a wrench-wielding, Bunyanesque muffler man. How nice to see a muffler man actually promoting, oh, I don't know, mufflers. The architecture of the shop itself has a great retro feel, too, with it's bright yellow and blue lettering, stars and triangular flags flapping in the breeze. I'll tell ya, if we needed a new muffler and were in the Tampa Bay area, this would be the place we would go. It would be our muffler manifest destiny.
Just when I thought I had seen every kooky attraction our former Eccentric Roadside home base of Rhode Island had to offer, I had a delightful surprise on a trip back to the Ocean State. After returning my rental car at the T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, the skywalk coveyer-belted me past a whimsical tin man sculpture on the roof of the E & M Sheet Metal Company headquarters on Fresno Road. Little online information exists about this fellow, even from the learned scholars of all such things Debra Jane Seltzer and RoadsideAmerica.com, so I assume some mad, artistic sheet metal genius put this fine specimen together and got him up on the roof for all to admire. He makes a friendly greeter to all visitors who pass near Little Rhody's main airport, as if to say "Hey everybody, we're a little offbeat here in Rhode Island. Thanks for checking us out!" Or, in other words, Rhode Island is a little scrappy but we're not afraid to show our true mettle.
This is what we didn't see: any of the 110 outlandishly decorated themed guest rooms. This was shot by photographer par excellence Tom Meinhold. Visit his website, whydon'tcha.
We didn't make it inside the spectacular Fremont Theatre, either...
...or the Sunset Drive-In. Oh, well.
Pepe has a cool old sign...
...and we did do some laundry at the Launderosa, probably my favorite laundromat name of all time.
Back in 2011, we took an incredible cross-country trip from Rhode Island to California. The original plan was to visit San Francisco for a few days and then head to Yosemite National Park. Even though we arrived in S.F. in mid-May, Yosemite was snowed in to the point of only one road to the park being open, leading us to change our plans on the fly, which can be both disappointing (No Yosemite? Boo!) to exciting (let's go down the Pacific Coast Highway. Yay!). We visited the extraordinary Hearst Castle in San Simeon and then decided to head a bit further south to Pismo Beach (and all the clams we can eat), looking for a motel for the night along the way, which happened to be in the sunny central California coast town of San Luis Obispo, which translates to Saint Louis the Bishop for all you non-Spanish speakers like me. We wished we had the correct amount of time to spend seeing this wonderful place, especially the Madonna Inn, known the world over for its eccentrically over-the-top decorated guest rooms. After checking in to our hard-to-acquire motel (the entire area was booked because of a big wine festival weekend), I drove around just to see what I could in our all-too-short stay and was able to wander around the lobby and coffee shop of the Inn, both of which did not disappoint this eccentric roadside attraction fan. This place will have to be a tent-pole destination for some future trip for us. S.L.O. has not one but two retro movie delights, as well: the Fremont, a 1942 palace saved from the wrecking ball due to public outcry, and the Sunset Drive-In. We hope we make it back here some day, but in the meantime nos vemos en nuestros sueños, San Luis Obispo.*
*I used an internet translator so hopefully this means we'll see you in our dreams San Luis Obispo and not something like bite the wax tadpole.
There's some nice patio work behind this fellow but now it's going to seed.
Not sure what this hole is for, unless this guy was mechanical and needed some maintenance.
Zoned C-2...that must mean large concrete dinosaur mascot allowed.
We are family...I've got all my sisters with me.
There's friendly green roadside greeter along 66th Street in St. Petersburg, Florida, just waiting for someone to adopt him. We're a little uncertain how this coelurosaurian theropod wound up in this spot...perhaps he was a hold-over mascot from a mini golf course or other fun venue, but he appears to have last been employed by the Florida Brick and Paver Company, who apparently pave no more here, as the "For Lease" notice covering their sign would indicate. Could this happy green fellow be going, well, the way of the dinosaur? Let's hope not because he is a delight to behold, with his intricate scale work and cheerful toothless grin, not to mention the large, white cartoony bone he appears to be using as a jaunty walking cane. Perhaps if someone leases the property, the owners will thrown him in at no extra cost...wouldn't that be an enticement? Whatever business moves in would certainly get our patronage for keeping such a sight for 'saur eyes.
How cool would it be to live in that mobile home next to the drive-in?
Keeping it alive...we like the sound of that.
They're proud of their 2000 square-foot screen, and who can blame them?
Thank you, and please come again.
I believe this is clue that Paul is dead.
All this and a Beloved Drive-In Theatre Cat, too? We liked this place before, but now we love it.
I had a ModBetty moment while driving down the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) in the western part of my new home state of Florida recently. She's the hostess with the mostess of fun retro places to visit at her groovy website Retro Roadmap and the Ruskin Family Drive-In theater has her name written all over it. It's a place that's been around since 1952 (the first movie they screened was "Singin' in the Rain", for crying out loud) and they're still open year round, rain or shine, hot or cold, including holidays. If that isn't dedication to the glorious retro tradition of drive-in movie theaters, we'll eat our pork pie hats. Here's a little something from their website (a website for a drive-in?, now that's a paradox):
"We call it the “Last family drive-in” in the U.S.A. because families,
dating couples, single parents with children and everyone else young and
old can come and visit. We had family values when family values were
the rule. We still have family values although by some we’re not
Not considered cool? What are you, nuts?...nothing could be cooler. Movie memorabilia fans should take note of the fact that they sell off their old movie posters at the bargain price of $5, so if you're in the market for a "Hunger Games," "Madea Christmas" or "Wolverine" placard, check them out.This money and the snack bar profits go to support their digital projector, a rarity among drive-ins.
Thank you, Ruskin Family Drive-In, for keeping the flame, or flick in this case, burning brightly in the great state of Florida.
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!