Gem Auto Wash removes beloved neon signSome might say I’m obsessed with signs. It probably started when I was a young boy in the backseat of a blue Buick Skylark. I’d always look out the window at the cool business signs as we’d drive down the road.
I was driving down the road a couple weeks ago gazing out the window when I noticed Gem Auto Wash had a big crane taking down the cool neon 1960s sign and replacing it with a new large run-of-the-mill sign. I panicked a little.
I made a quick u-turn, parked the car, and immediately started asking questions. I was able to speak to Reed Hollingshead, the owner of Gem Auto Wash, and he alleviated some of my panicky concerns about the iconic sign, although my hands are still a little clammy about it.
He and his brother Peter have taken over the family business their dad Richard started in 1974. Reed said, “He left a great legacy.” Gem Auto Wash and the neon sign have been operating on Freeport Boulevard since 1962. In all that time, the sign has never had to be repaired, according to Peter. “The tubes have been taken care of nicely ,” he said.
I was assured by Mr. Hollingshead that they were going to preserve the sign. The plan is to strip, paint, and repair the old Gem Auto Wash sign and mount it in the middle of the façade above the car wash tunnel. It’s currently in storage at the business.
The removal of the neon sign is part of a “re-branding of the business,” Peter told me. He added, “Besides, nobody uses the term ‘auto’ anymore.” Gem Auto Wash is now Gem Car Wash And Detail Center.
On Facebook, I posted a photo of the vintage sign being taken down and nobody was happy about it. Comments included, “Oh no,” “Bummer,” and “That’s terrible. Why would they do that? At least the old 50s Raley’s sign is still there.”
One person drastically stated, “So sad, this destroys the character of the city and neighborhood.”
Let’s hope Mr. Hollingshead is a man of his word and the classic neon Gem Auto Wash sign glowingly reappears on Freeport Boulevard.
Fairytale Town Looking to Expand
Fairytale Town wants to expand. Executive Director Kathy Fleming and board member Brian Crilly presented to the Land Park Community Association Board an impressive renovation project idea. Brian, who’s an architect at Lionakis, gave the enthusiastic presentation to the Land Park Community Association as well as those in attendance at the monthly board meeting.
The proposal calls for an expansion to the east near the soccer field and to the south, adding approximately half an acre to the current grounds (of 2 and a half acres). The current cost estimate for expansion and improvements is between $5‐8 million. The funds will all come from private donations. I spoke with Kathy Fleming as she said, “We’re floating ideas out there and getting input from community members. We’ve talked conceptually about it with the Land Park soccer and the city parks department. This is a very long-term project if it goes forward and I think there will be a lot of conversations with the community, and the Land Park community in particular.”
She added, “It’s really embryonic right now.”
Some in attendance at the meeting expressed concerns about more open park space being gobbled up and fenced in diminishing the area available for free and open use. Others pointed out it would diminish views and vistas in William Lnand Park. Another attendee mentioned how the neighborhood resisted the expansion of the Sacramento Zoo’s footprint when it proposed an expansion. It definitely sparked a spirited conversation at the meeting. The Land Park Community Association did not take a stance on the proposed expansion and will address the topic at upcoming board meetings.
Fountainhead Brewing Almost Ready To Brew
Hollywood Park residents who enjoy tipping back a pint of local craft beer were giddy with excitement when they heard a new brewery was replacing an old auto repair shop on 24th Street a few doors down from Panama Pottery. Fountainhead Brewing Company was movin’ in! That was last year. Local folks recently started asking me, “What’s the latest on Fountainhead?”
Fear not my lager-loving friends. I asked Fountainhead’s brewer and owner and he told me, “Everything’s all set with ABC and Fed and we’ll be installing glycol next week,” which means they’ll be brewing soon. And for the brewing nerds, glycol, mixed with city water, enables them to operate their chiller systems in the 25-27 F temperature range that breweries require.
They still need to have some work done to the building, but they will have brew available in house and at a couple locations “within the next two months or so,” according to Moffat.
So, stay giddy Hollywood Park. There will be something brewing soon on 24th Street.
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