Roadtrip! Illinois and Indiana, August 30-31, 2008

by Brian Cofer September. 01, 2008 2882 views

I suspect I won't be living in St. Louis this time next year, so I decided to spend a couple of days driving around the region. The weather, while a little on the hot side, was really quite nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hot, lazy summer days cruising through the cornfields and sleepy small towns. These might be hard times - I don't care what Phil Gramm thinks - but there's still so much so right about America.

I started Saturday morning in Mount Vernon, Ill. I had to photograph this Huck's sign, part of a convenience store chain in southern Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. Does Huck Finn not look totally deranged here?

Cruising into Mount Vernon, I found an old Uniroyal Girl outside a tire store. The Uniroyal Girls, a cousin of fiberglass Paul Bunyans and Muffler Men, were manufactured in the ‘60s and ’70s to advertise Uniroyal tires. The hand over her head would often sport a tire.

Here's a gallery of Uniroyal Girls from across America, many of whom have been restyled over the years.

This one in Mount Vernon appears unchanged.

The same tire store has this cool sign. Unfortunately it's backlit by the morning sun.

In Salem, Ill., I came across the following two motel signs side by side. The first one is especially awesome.

Cut and paste for the following vintage postcard views: [] []

Cut and paste for vintage postcard view: []

I apologize for these long URLs. I can't get the hyperlinks to work on this page.

Salem, Ill.

Some great deco on one of the main drags of Salem. It's now being used as a community theater. I'm wondering what's the story on this Carol Burnett Variety Show. I looked on their website and couldn't find anything.

Farina, Ill.

Effingham, Ill.

Cut and paste for a 1950s postcard view: []

Effingham, Ill.

The Heart Theatre showed its last movie on Christmas Eve 2006, according to a local newspaper clip I found online. I have a photo I took in 2004 with “Harry Potter” on the marquee. It currently sits empty and unused.

Effingham, Ill.

The My Garage Museum on the edge of Effingham is devoted to car memoribilia. This wall apparently was reassemble from the old GM plant in St. Louis.

The museum has a gas station with this 1940s sign. Socony, by the way, stood for Standard Oil Company of New York.

At the museum entrance is this drive-in marquee. I don't know if this is vintage or retro new. Looks vintage.

Mattoon, Ill. Here's a sign you'll never see in Georgia or Alabama.

Mattoon, Ill.

I first photographed this theater in 2001. This is one of my all-time favorites. It was empty then, and remains empty now. According to, the Time was built in 1911 but burned in 1937 and rebuilt in this simple-yet-gorgeous deco design. It was operated by Frisina Entertainment, the same outfit that ran the Heart in Effingham. It stopped showing movies in the 1980s.

FutureGen is the proposed zero-emissions coal plant using the latest technology. Congress approved Mattoon as the site of the plant, but its funding remains in question. Funding was approved in December 2007 but killed almost immediately.

Mattoon, Ill.

Found this impressive, yet abandoned, church on the edge of downtown.

Mattoon, Ill.

I first photographed this Coca-Cola bottling plant in 2001 when it was still operting. It appears to be empty now. Although much of the building has a bland 1950s look, this entrance is a nice nod to the deco period that had just recently ended.

Mattoon, Ill.

Mattoon, Ill.

If this doesn't look like any Burger King you've ever seen, that's because it's not. This Burger King is not part of the chain, but represents a famous trademark law case. A local family, the Hootses, opened named their burger place Burger King in 1957 and actually trademarked the name with the state of Illinois. Meanwhile the national outfit trademarked the name federally.

In a 1968 decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals compromised and ruled that the Hoots family can't use this name outside the area and that the better-known Burger King can't use the name within 20 miles of Mattoon.

By the way, I ate lunch here and the burgers and fries are far superior to those at the better-know Burger King. But I don't guess that's saying much.

Charleston, Ill.

Dog n Suds was one of the earliest fast food chains. Established in 1953 in Champaign, Dog n Suds had 600 locations by the 1970s. There are a handful of locations left, many I presume to be unrelated. According to the Dog n Suds website, some folks in Michigan in 2001 bought the rights to the name and are trying to relaunch the chain.

Cut and past this link to their website: []

Love this deco gem in Charleston. You'll note they're still showing first-run movies. In my drives around America, I've been surprised by the number of small-town movie houses that are still in business in the 2000s.

I can't find any history, but the name and architecture scream 1930a. It's on an entire block of storefronts with matching architecture.

Notice the etched glass on the doors with a stylized WR.

We'll stop here and pick up again tomorrow or later this week.

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Patsy Abbey 11 years, 10 months ago

How very interesting. I really enjoyed your post.

11 years, 10 months ago Edited
Michal Cichon 11 years, 11 months ago

Love this 50ties & 60ties advert signs :)

11 years, 11 months ago Edited