Have you ever stopped to think how many of your nostalgic memories involve signs? ~ Tim Hollis
Funny thing, getting old. I can’t remember why I walk into a room or what someone’s name is five minutes after being introduced, but I can remember childhood smells, tastes, and places like I experienced them yesterday. It’s nice, though, when local author Tim Hollis puts them all together in a book for me. It’s been a pleasure flipping through his new book, Vintage Birmingham Signs, and reminiscing with family and co-workers about the places that starred in our childhoods.
In the introduction Hollis explains that there are more neon signs represented in his book, but only because the neon sign companies were more diligent about archiving their signs. Many of the photos are courtesy of the popular nostalgic Website Birmingham Rewound. Since the signs speak for themselves, there is only a brief description surrounding each photograph, so the book is 127 pages of black and white photographs that tell the story of Birmingham’s commercial history.
Readers will be disappointed if they're expecting to see the famous Merita bread company sign that showed slices of bread falling onto a plate, or the Strickland tire man that my siblings and I dubbed Big Man. Hollis has searched for these photographs with no luck.
I'm enjoying the memories this book has dredged up: my mom buying her cigs at San-Ann; my dad working at Burger In a Hurry as a young married man; the Yellow Label syrup jar we passed by on our Friday night grocery trips; the crispy fried chicken and apple fritters served up at Catfish King; going for a Sunday drive and stopping at the Spinning Wheel for a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone; buying my favorite pair of groovy, purple bell bottoms at Burger-Phillips. The only photograph I object to is the Laff in the Dark building at Kiddie Land. The only time I thought I would ever see this place again was in my nightmares.
Tim Hollis will be at the Central Library next Wednesday to talk about his new book at the Brown Bag Program.