Saving vintage signs
Fort Wayne's Sunbeam Bread sign is a beloved landmark, but other vintage signs around the city aren't faring so well. (Photos: Sunbeam bread by Stephen L. Park; Humpty Dumpty by Brandon Bartoszek; Westwood Lanes by Sarah Matteucci)|
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Endless Bread. That’s what they call the giant mechanized Sunbeam Bread sign atop Aunt Millie’s baking company at the corner of Pearl and Ewing in Fort Wayne. Nine slices of bread have fallen, one by one, every two point three seconds, from an open bread sack…since 1957. It’s well-tended, and the company staged a big birthday celebration when the sign turned 50.
However, according to ARCH, Fort Wayne’s preservation group, three more very cool signs are endangered. There’s the 70-foot-tall cornucopia spilling out fruits and vegetables, atop a vacant grocery store on Decatur Road. If the building sells and the owner doesn’t keep the cornucopia, many people who regard it as a landmark will be very sad.
The Humpty Dumpty Drive-in is no longer in service, but the sign and Spanish revival building remain, both in bad shape. It’s hard to describe the very tall, colorful sign, which includes the words BIG GUY spelled out in lights. Unlit these days, alas. At the very top there’s a brick wall, minus the Humpty figure that once teetered on the wall. Maybe Humpty is decorating the bar in someone’s basement. And if so, shame on them.
And how about the 50-year old, giant, three-dimensional bowling pin that directs people to Westwood Lanes. It sits atop a pedestal on a separate parcel of land and the new owner of the parcel wants the pin gone. Say it ain’t so!
In the sign trade, these ‘50s gems are called “spectaculars” for good reason: they grab attention, they tell a story, and they become cross-generational objects of public affection.
Aunt Millie’s & Sunbeam Bread
The history of “Spectaculars”