San Jose’s vintage neon signs are critically endangered, although we’re fortunate to have several people and groups working to preserve the ones that still exist. However, the San Jose Preservation Action Council came up with a fun way to celebrate the characters by presenting them as enamel pins, which have been gaining popularity again in recent years.
The set includes the towering Western Appliance sign, Stephen’s Meat “Dancing Pig” sign, “Orchard Supply Hardware” arrow sign and “Y Not” sign. If the last one doesn’t ring, it may be because the store on West San Carlos Street sells what people used to call “adult novelties.”
PAC-SJ managing director Ben Leech said he understood that the address of the porn store was once home to a country and western bar and that the sign with a Y that looks like a cocktail glass was a holdover. “Visually, it’s a great sign,” said Leech. “And that’s not unusual. Many historical cinemas have also gone through a triple-X phase. “
Interestingly, the Y Not is the only sign among the four signs for a company that is still in business, although all four signs are visible to the public. The Western Appliance sign is still on West San Carlos Street even though the store closed its doors last year. The Dancing Pig, which has been restored and re-lit following a PAC-SJ campaign, is grooving again on South Montgomery Street, and the OSH shield was installed in History Park on Senter Road just last month.
Leech said the first set of four pens sold out quickly when they were released in December, but another run is in the works and individual pens or the full set can be pre-ordered at Conservation.org/shop. There are also plans for a second set of pens, though Leech was considering which pens will be included. If you’re looking to keep up the tradition of displaying a sign with a more sour past, the Burbank Theater marquee is a great choice.
THE WRITING MATERIAL: Writer for 15 years Gary Singh has thrown a warm light on many of the less valued people, places, and history of San Jose in its Silicon Alleys column for the weekly Metro Silicon Valley week. More than 250 of these columns have now been collected in a book of the same name, which was published at the end of 2020. I got the book as a gift over the holidays and as a fan of the history of San Jose enjoyed reading these gems again.
On January 7th, Singh will have an online chat with Ken Middlebrook, History of San Jose’s collections curator to speak about his work and alleged love-hate relationship with his hometown. Tickets for the 7pm talk are $ 7 each and can be purchased at www.historysanjose.org.
WILL YOU GET AN EXTRA LAPTOP ?: If you have a new laptop for the holidays and an old one around, the San Jose Public Library would love to hear from you.
In partnership with HP and the San Jose Library Foundation, the library is holding a fundraiser to collect used Windows laptops that will be updated and distributed first to people in the library’s skill-building programs such as Career Online High School, Partners in Reading and Adult ESL who were unable to complete their programs virtually. The campaign, which began on December 1, brought in 57 laptops in the first week.
Laptops with Windows software – working computers are preferred, but all donations are accepted – can be donated at any express pick-up location in the San Jose Public Library from 1pm to 6pm through January 9th. More information is available at www.sjpl.org / laptop drive.