Monday, December 30, 2013

The Price is White: The Big White Guy of Chicopee, Massachusetts sold at auction

For the past several decades, a friendly 30-foot fiberglass dude wearing a handsome white suit and hat has been a fixture around the greater Springfield, Massachusetts area, and since 1999 he has greeted motorists from his perch off the Massachusetts Turpike's Exit 6 off-ramp in front of the Plantation Inn in Chicopee. Back in 1970, a Mr. Mario Cantalini bought the Big White Guy, also known as Plantation Man or Southern Man (but not the Neil Young "Southern Man"), from a Framingham, Mass. pizza restaurant and converted him into an Uncle Sam for his Springfield Ford dealership. Then, in 1999, after he sold his dealership, he gave the big dude a monochromatic wardrobe makeover and moved him in front of  his new business, the Plantation Inn in Chicopee. Mr. Cantalini passed away last year at age 94, and now his relatives have closed the Inn and put the property, Big White Guy and all, up for auction last November. They didn't get their asking price for the Inn, but Big White Guy was sold for $11,500 to a Mr. Charlie Arment, Jr., a local businessman who bought the dude on behalf of a group of partners who plan to keep the statue somewhere in the greater Springfield area.

Good on you, Mr. Arment, for having your heart in the White place, being in the White place at the White time and doing the White thing by keeping Big White Guy local. You deserve a big hand.

Check out my source for all this great info here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like an Eccentric Roadside Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we'd share some Christmas cards we've made over the years commemorating our road trips with a little help from our friend Mr. Photoshop, including these great eccentric roadside sights...

...the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa...

 ...Death Valley...

 ...The Big Duck, Long Island, New York...

 ...Presidents Park, Williamsburg, Virginia...

...and the Hudson River, Kingston, New York.

We'd mail you one but we just ran out of stamps.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Big time move: The world's biggest cuckoo clock finds a new perch

We found out recently that the world's biggest cuckoo clock, which we visited in Wilmot, Ohio in 2007, has moved to a new home. It's been restored and now sits at the intersection of Main and Broadway Streets, 15 miles away in Sugar Creek, Ohio, proving that Ohio is still the most cuckoo state in the country. We've never been to Sugar Creek, but here's a rerun of the post we did after our swell visit to Wilmot:

 World's biggest cuckoo (I'm working on a self-deprecating joke here, give me a minute) clock

 The masses throng to watch, enthralled.

Grandma's Alpine Homestead is a fine restaurant/tourist trap in the Amish Ohio town of Wilmot that boasts the world's biggest cuckoo clock. This bit of bravado is a little bit controversial in large cuckoo clock circles, as a Michigan town makes the same claim. It would have to be a pretty darn big one to beat Wilmot's timepiece, though. We stopped by in 2007 and were lucky to view the clock in a newly refurbished luster. According to (the bible, if you ask me), 16 volunteers spent 80 hours painting, varnishing and regrouting this tribute to German-Swiss timekeeping that would make a Swiss Miss cry in her cocoa. Hampton Hotels also coughed up $20,000 for the clock's on-going care (cuckoo! cuckoo!). Our visit's timing was excellent. After a little browsing in the gift shop we made our way to the patio for a recital featuring Old World characters doing their cuckoo clock shtick as the clock struck. You'd be cuckoo if you didn't stop and see this. Here's some more info: 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No one I think is in my tree: Remembering John Lennon's New York City

 Photo by the great Bob Gruen

 The Dakota

Strawberry Fields

We remember John Lennon on this day with a look back on our post about The Dakota, the New York City building where he lived until his passing away on this day in 1980, and Strawberry Fields, the Central Park memorial in his honor (click here). Dreams sweet dreams for you, dreams sweet dreams for me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

We here at Eccentric Roadside have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, and since eating is a big part of the celebration, we thought we'd post some food-related street signs we've seen along the way...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Strike up the abandoned: Awesome photography by Noel Kerns

These pictures are all copyright Noel Kerns. Aren't they something?

I've always found abandoned places compelling and I started taking pictures of them back when I was a college student. On our trips down secondary roads, we've seen a lot of these places -- melancholy reminders of what used to be  -- and I'm fascinated at how long some of these sad places stick around, rotting away year after year (check out some we've blogged about here). Lots of other people like to take pictures of these kinds of places, but very few have the talent and skill of a Mr. Noel Kerns, a Dallas-based photographer who mostly focuses on Texas ghost towns, decommissioned military bases and old gas stations, cafes and roadside dwellings, all photographed at night under a full moon. Just finding these places takes skill and time, but then he waits until the perfect evening and lights his subjects in an incredibly artistic and surreal way, giving the images a dreamlike quality he calls "light painting". He's got a book out, "Nightwatch - Painting with Light" and a really extensive Flickr sight. Keep up the good work, Mr. Kerns, and long live decay.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sweating Bullitts: Driving Divisadero Street in San Francisco, California

 "Bullitt" has what's considered the best car chase ever filmed.

 Steve McQueen drives a hopped up 1968 Mustang... pursuit of a boss Dodge Charger.

While trying to get to the south of the city, we wound up on  Divisadero Street...

 ...which looks like this...

...but felt like this (that's us in our Subaru Forester. Catch us if you can, Steve McQueen). 

Our previous blog post mentioned the fun of seeing famous movie locales while travelling. We had another such outing in San Francisco, although it was unintentional. We were visiting Bodega Bay, about 60 miles north of S.F., and wanted to get to our next stop, a hotel near the San Francisco airport south of the city. Normally when you're on the outskirts of a big city, you just hop on the interstate and it will loop you around the urban area. Without really scrutinizing the map, we assumed this would be the case in S.F., too. Au contraire. The city population didn't want to wreck their awesome landscape with super highways, so the way to get from north to south is to go over the glorious Golden Gate Bridge and then be dumped off right in the thick of the city. Mrs. Eccentric was driving (white-knuckled at the wheel) and I was "navigating" ( I use that term loosely) and we found ourselves going up and down those famous mountainous S.F. avenues like you used to see on the old Rice-a-Roni commercials. I noticed the street we were on was Divisadero, and I was about to say, "Hey, honey! Guess what! I think we're on the street where they filmed the "Bullitt" car chase!" but I thought I'd better keep my mouth shut, at least until our hearts were out of our throats. Sherry did a Steve McQueen-worthy job of driving and we made it to our hotel slightly damp from the flop-sweat but in one piece. Turns out the "Bullitt" car chase was mostly filmed on Fillmore and not Divisadero, and people drive these streets every day and it's no big deal if you know what you're doing. In fact, by the time we left S.F. four days later, we (and by we, I still mean Sherry) had those city streets down pretty good.

Now about that driving trip through Monaco...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Now, that's Muir like it: "Vertigo" locale Muir Woods, north of San Francisco, California

 Here's Jimmy, Hitch, Kim and me hanging around Muir Woods...

 ...which was a location in the Hitchcock masterpiece "Vertigo" (poster by the great graphic designer and Hitchcock collaborator Saul Bass).

 Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak emote among the giant redwoods...

 ...and they checked out a tree segment showing how really old those Redwoods get...

 ...even going all the way back to 900 AD.

 The trees really are magnificent at Muir Woods.

 Poor Jimmy just can't get Kim out of his head.

 Hitchcock used lots of locations around San Francisco for "Vertigo" including the Golden Gate Bridge.

 This was as close as we got to that scene where Kim jumps into the drink near the bridge.

 And you thought you were having a rough day.

Whenever we're on a trip, if the opportunity to visit a location seen in one of our favorite movies arises, we try to grab it. Back in 2011,we were lucky enough to stroll through Muir Woods National Monument, a spectacular old-growth coastal redwood forest 12 miles north of San Francisco in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. If you're an Alfred Hitchcock fan, you'll recognize the place from his 1958 masterpiece "Vertigo". Jimmy Stewart, as unhinged height-phobic ex-police detective John "Scotty" Ferguson is hired to follow the mysterious and equally disturbed Madeleine Elster, played by the dishy Kim Novak. These two tortured souls spend a day together that includes a stop at Muir Woods, where they observe an old tree segment dating back to 900 AD. We were delighted to find the same segment in the park where Jimmy and Kim stood, looking just like it did in the movie. The only wet blanket in this whole endeavor is the fact that Hitchcock didn't actually film "Vertigo" here -- he used Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, California instead, and the tree segment was a facsimile created by the prop department. We knew this going in, though, and we still had fun in the park enjoying the outstanding beauty of the trees and nature's splendor and were left to ponder the philosophical question, "If Jimmy Stewart has fear of falling in the forest and there is no one is around to hear him, does he still have vertigo?". I guess we'll never know.