A couple of months ago, Landmark Signs made a trip up to Sacramento to put up a First American sign, a Channel Letter Sign with halo lighting. Because we are avid travelers, once our sign was installed and we realized were ahead of schedule, we decided to go explore some of the surrounding areas a little bit, deciding to turn our work trip into a mini road trip as well. It wasn’t long before we turned down a little road off interstate 160 and were intrigued by this neon sign we came across that read “Chop Suey”, pointing down to the street below. From the looks of it, it appeared to be old, possibly very old since neon signs were first used as early as 1937. Upon closer inspection we discovered not only an antique sign, but a 3-street town that once house was established in 1915 by Chinese immigrants who moved there after a fire had destroyed their previous town: the town of Locke.
We really couldn’t believe our luck, not only did we come across a unique and interesting sign, one that piqued our interests and inspired ideas and enthusiasm for our work, but we also came across a whole other world that we never knew existed. It felt like a portal to a secret world, full of past lives and stories that we might never have the pleasure of hearing. Walking down the main street, much of the buildings were deserted, dilapidated, abandoned or simply too old to really paint a clear picture of the town’s history. So we made our way to the visitor’s center, a restored building that was once the town’s boarding house. Inside, we were treated to a tour of the house, a detailed history of Locke (originally Lockeport), and images upon images of the people and buildings of old. Some of my favorites were images of an all-women’s basketball team and two young women from the 1920’s dressed as flappers standing in front of the theater.
Also, upon further investigation, we found an image of the building the “Chop Suey” sign was pointing to that was taken in 1939. Although, because of the layout of the town (there is a street a level up with the upstairs portions of the shops, where we found the sign, while the mains street is one level down) we weren’t able to see the sign in that image, it lead us to believe that it is very likely that the sign we found is at least as old as the photo, how exciting!
As we discovered, there is so much more to a story than what meets the eye. What started out as a work trip became a pleasant memory and a journey into the past, one filled with stories and images that we might never have discovered if we hadn’t been curious about that little “Chop Suey” sign.
© Landmark Signs Inc. 2015