Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hut damn! Bradenton, Florida's Quonset hut Uniroyal Gal

Coming across a Uniroyal Gal is like seeing the leading lady from the deliciously awful 1958 sci-fi classic "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." "Har-ry!..."

When Eccentric Roadside moved our world headquarters from Rhode Island to Bradenton, Florida, little did we know kismet was involved until we discovered there is one of those rarest of rare eccentric roadside attractions right here in town: a Uniroyal Gal, the Muffler Man's sultry female counterpart, created as an eye-catching Jackie Kennedy-esque roadside icon by the International Fiberglass company for Uniroyal back in 1966. There are only 12 or so of these beauties left that are still out in full view and we've been fortunate to have seen three before (click here) in such far-flung places as Blackfoot, Idaho, Blackwood, New Jersey and Unger, West Virginia, but we never dreamed there would be one right on own own home turf. This one is displayed in front of the Edmunds Metal Works Quonset hut. The hut has an imposing hand-painted sign on it that says "Powder Room: Total Custom Powder Coating". Across the way is another building with an old-timey sign that says "Gasoline Alley" on its side. This whole establishment looks like it would make a fine locale for one of those cable-TV shows about outrageous auto customization, with Miss Edmunds (or some other alias) as their fetching heroine. Compared to the other Uniroyal Gals we've seen, Miss Edmunds is rather au natural, with her sun-baked, worn complexion and scruffy, yellow bikini. Perhaps she's due for a, there's a cable TV series we'd watch: "Uniroyal Gal Makeover." Of course, though, we know she's beautiful on the inside and that's what really counts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eccentric street name of the week

I wouldn't want to be the real estate agent selling luxury condos on Cockroach Bay Road. For a possible explanation of why they call it that, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oh, the huge manatees! Scenes from Manatee County, Florida

There's a county in Florida that's so proud of its eccentric native herbivorous marine mammal, they named the county after it. We're talking about Manatee County, incorporating the city of Bradenton and smaller towns of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Longboat Key, Holmes Beach and Palmetto. One of the main drags in Bradenton is called, appropriately enough, Manatee Avenue and on it and other streets in town you'll see a plethora of businesses and places that proudly use Manatee in their names.  We love this and like to take the names literally, as if Manatee Dental is where a manatee goes to get his teeth cleaned and Manatee Termite is the exterminator of choice for sea cows everywhere.

Kudos to you, Manatee County, for picking such a lovable and kooky creature for your namesake. Below is a gallery of some of the local signs that amuse the eccentric traveler along the way:

 I'm guessing manatees prefer Whirpool

 The main drag through Bradenton

 This manatee's teeth (manateeth) light up at night. Just thought you should know that.

 If you look closely you'll see a manatee in a recliner. Just thought you should know that, too.

 You might think Manatee High School's sports mascot would be the, oh, I don't know, manatee, but they're the Hurricanes because, let's face it, manatees just aren't that intimidating.

 We're guessing if you want books about manatees, they got 'em

Bradenton has a manatee celebrity named Snooty at the local aquarium, which I'm sure we'll blog about in the future, and there will be another lousy "Oh the humanity" joke, I guarantee.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sponge-worthy: Tarpon Springs, Florida's Spongeorama

 Step right this way!

 Just a little bit further...

 Become an expert!

 A throng of spectators take in the sponge documentary.

 And then the dioramas await...

 On to the gift shop!

Don't care for sponges? Abalonie to you!

We're suckers for any place that has a suffix of "orama" in its title and there's a real lulu in the warm and friendly Florida gulf coast community of Tarpon Springs. Spongeorama was created in 1968 and boasts of its "world famous Spongeorama museum" that pays tribute to the industry and the Greeks who immigrated to America to create better lives for themselves working in it. They offer a free, yes free, movie and entrance to the museum. There are actually two  movies: a yellowed 1980s-looking infomercial about the different types of natural sponges for sale in the gift shop, and a 1950s-looking documentary about sponge diving that will remind baby boomers of the movies shown on rainy days after lunch in elementary school when you couldn't be let outside for recess. The crowds of bargain-savvy documentary-loving tourists populate the benches in the multi-media center (or back room next to the gift shop) and sit in awe at nature's marvel of endoskeletal, biomineralized, soon-to-be kitchen implements. After that, a tour of the museum's dioramas is not to be missed, with their late-60s mannequins, high school science fair-style reproductions of historical events, and windows that look like they haven't been cleaned since Lyndon Johnson was president. Then it's on to the glory of the gift shop, where you can buy a fabulous array of natural local sponges as well as other Florida keepsakes, all at a 10% discount now that you're a Spongeorama-deemed "expert" in the world of sponges.

Places like this are a dream come true for us, reminding us of our childhoods and the earnest efforts of people devoted to a subject others might consider mundane or unworthy. We would love to go back again and again to soak up the atmosphere.