Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
INDIAN DEALER SIGN SURVIOR
REMEMBER WHEN NEON WAS COOL?
When I was working at the "Antique and Modern" Motorcycle Shop in Santa Clara, California, I helped the owner Bill McMenamy unpack this Indian Dealership neon sign from its original wooden crate. This was around 1981. These very stylish neon illuminated Indian dealership signs were commonly seen at surviving early 1950's Indian dealerships. I say surviving because at the time the Indian Motorcycle Company was struggling mightily to stay solvent as a company. Competition from Harley-Davidson and imported motorcycle brands such as Triumph and BSA was taking its toll. As we unpacked the sign we found two or three dents in the porcelain evidently sustained from stray bullets that passed through the wooden walls of the barn loft where it had been stored. The balance of the porcelain coating was pristine. The barn where the sign was stored was located out in the woods where hunters sometimes traveled which may account for the bullet dents, although random acts of barn-shooting vandalism couldn't be ruled out. The sign had been shipped to the George A Haynes Indian dealership in Florida, but was never installed at the dealership for unknown reasons. Being at the time a devout Indian motorcycle rider and a genuinely anti Harley-Davidson rider I was happy as a clam being the one to pull this sign out into the sunlight after more than 30 odd years of storage. What a pleasant surprise it was when we plugged the sign into a local 110 outlet and the neon lit up, ostensibly for the very first time since its manufacture. It was in fact a virtual "Christmas" moment for me as an Indian rider. The sign is currently in private hands in the Ventura, California area in an antique motorcycle shop, the name of which I have yet to remember. Also in the shop was a Harley-Davidson sign on early 1940 vintage which we had to have re-glassed, and re-gassed with neon tubing to get it back in working order. I truly didn't appreciate that sign as much as I do now. Neon was the way to go to splash your business location be it a local watering hole (bar) or motorcycle shop don't ya know. I would love to seen neon return as the lighting of choice. One of my favorite neon signs is the Oasis neon above the entrance to the bar in down-town Sturgis, South Dakota. Last time I viewed the sign, the green lighting of the palm leafs was not functional. I think I'll go down and nag the owner or manager of the Oasis Bar and Grill to get that sign repaired before the Rally 2012. What's a nighttime cruise down main street during the Rally without the iconic Oasis neon sign doing it's thing huh?