Thursday, January 6, 2011

Burro Jim

This motel sign appears along the highway west of Phoenix, Arizona.

Note the Old West plank lettering. Color TV and refrigeration were rare enough things in homes that it was worth advertising.


Bob Mrotek said...

The word "Refrigeration" is a big deal too! Back in those days many motels and hotels were cooled by "swamp coolers" even though they advertised "air conditioning". The word "Refrigeration" meant that they were talking about the real thing :)

bill said...

One of the coolest signs I've ever seen.

Adam Rex said...

I don't remember seeing this one. Do you remember where you were, or what highway you were on?

Kevin said...

In the desert, swamp coolers are just as effective as refrigerated air, and vastly more efficient. Plus, it adds some humidity to the room, which is appreciated in dry climates. Commercial facilities have largely moved to refrigerated air, but almost all homes here in New Mexico use swamp coolers.

I see signs advertising for color TV and air conditioning at motels around here pretty frequently, sometimes because the hotels are so obviously old and sketch that you actually need the assurance, and sometimes (more frequently) because a hotel wants to play up a Route 66 era retro charm.

Lazy KZ said...

In 1970 my husband and I stopped at a hotel in Cincinnati that advertised hot water and telephone. Sure enough, that was pretty much all it had.

Anonymous said...

That's quite a piece of Americana there. You don't see signs like that anymore.

J. R. Stremikis said...

@Maxwest - in fact, it seems like you can see signs like that, today. As Jim mentions in the post, this one is located in Aguila (Wickenburg) Arizona.
Seems like this place has a real history - and story:
Unfortunately, no Google "street view" seems available, so it's not possible to "distance-sketch" in context, using the new technology...
the photo here maybe a part of the recent sign renovation -- may have been edited to remove the large "FREE SATELLITE TV" teaser underneath, or maybe the new owner has removed it, for a "retro effect."
(taken in Dec, 2007)
perhaps "Burro Jim" owned a chain of these, way back when ?
(before he got his "advertising act" together? ;-)

James Gurney said...

J. R. You got it, it was on Highway 74 on the way from Wickenburg to Phoenix, Arizona. Jeanette and I did the drive during our tour in October. What gorgeous scenery, and quite a bit of old neon along the lesser-used US highway.

J. R. Stremikis said...

@jg -- aw, shucks. and I was just paging through my thumb-worn copy of "Artist's Guide..." hoping to find something of this scene sketched in pencil from 1980...
still hoping to see some of your/Jeannete's sketches along this highway. (did the neon look any older now, compared to 30 years ago?)


Tyler J said...

Speaking of your October tour, it was a real treat to meet you and Jeanette and to watch your demonstration and presentation.

You're welcome in Phoenix anytime!

Everett Patterson said...

I love this kind of stuff! My current graphic novel takes place in New Mexico, part of it in one of those old, corny-themed motels. Kevin, you should read it!

Marc T. said...


James Gurney said...

Hi, Jim's wife Jeanette here. I'm also the family navigator. Just a slight correction. We were on US60, not US74, between Quartzite and Wickenburg, Arizona. Pretty desolate highway with some nice old highway structures along the way.

José Carrilho (Go Detail) said...

Hi James,

Maybe colour TV sets will be something of the pass in a few years and we'll be seing them in museums.

Best regards,


James Gurney said...

I got this from a Facebook friend called "Cortez Street Emporium":
"I tried posting on your blogger page, but do not have a google account so uncertain whether you will see it. The Burro Jim's motel is for sale and the Burro Jim sign had been listed on e-bay for almost a year now. Much if the neon is not working and the sign had been crudely repainted since your photo of it, so sadly much of the patina is gone. We purchased the sign this past weekend and took it down yesterday. Once we restore the neon, it will be hanging on a wall in our store. As you know it is a HUGE sign. We currently have another sign from 1948 from a Prescott motel called the "Navajo Lodge" (name changed to the Sheldon Street Lodge about 20 years ago.which hangs on the wall behind our checkout counter which is 6' X 9'. You can see photos of the Navajo Lodge on our facebook page and we will be posting photos this week of taking the Burro Jim sign down and will update our facebook page as the renovation is done. It should be on our wall no later than July."