Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tod's Amazing Sign Adventures - Johnny's Big Red Grill, Ithaca NY

The 21- foot tall Johnny's Big Red Grill sign was installed in 1949. The restaurant was popular with the Cornell crowd, and the sign was designated an historic landmark.  But as with all of us, time takes its toll, and last year, the sign came down.  Lots of local institutions wanted it, but couldn't manage the cost or space required. 

So it went up for auction on eBay and was purchased by 1976 Cornell graduate Carolyn Coplan, who envisioned it as a gift for her husband to be displayed in their foyer.  Oops.  Too big!  Her search to find a good home for the sign led to the American Sign Museum, and we're glad it did!  We always prefer that a sign stay in its own community, but when that isn't possible, we're glad to help save, restore, and display these treasures.
Soooo.... off i went, enlisting the help of friend, museum patron, and board member Brian 'the Brush' Briskie. We left his home near Rochester at 0-dark-thirty and on the journey encountered rain, traffic, and an absent sign crew. We waited for the crew to arrive at the farm where the sign was being stored. Then we waited some more ...  Then we waited some more... Then the light bulb went off over Brian's head:  hey! i know a sign painter who lives around here. Maybe he can help!  And help he did.  Bob Timmerman arrived around noon with Jared Relyea and Eric Ramey.  With everyone working together, we were able to divide the sign into two smaller pieces, load it on the trailer, and strap it down for its journey to Cincinnati.
Happily, we all made it home safely, and the Johnny's Red Grill sign is already on display in the restoration shop at the museum's permanent home, which is still under construction. 

Read more about the sign, its history, and it's journey to the museum in the Cornell Sun article, and stay tuned for the next chapter of Tod's Amazing Sign Adventures ! 

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