Two things have changed for me in the nine years I’ve been taking road trips. First, in the old days it was mostly about exploring, and now it’s mostly about enjoying a day’s journey. Second, I’ve seen all of the interesting roads reachable within a day of my home. So a day trip is almost always going to be over a road I know well, but that’s okay because I love spending a day on any old road.

That means I’m starting to see things change on my favorite routes. When Dawn and I visited Richmond on our 2009 tour of Indiana’s National Road, we came upon this great old neon sign.

Hood Music sign

Didn’t every city once have a local music store? A place where the kids in the high-school band could buy or rent their clarinets, and where the bar bands could buy new guitar strings? Was there one in your town? My hometown had two: Witmer-McNease Music and Hedman Music. Both have been gone for years now. And sadly, it appeared that Richmond’s Hood Music had also gone the way of the dodo.

So on our recent return trip, I looked for this sign to photograph it again. I couldn’t spot it. Did I just not remember where it was? Did I pass by it but just not notice it?

I was taken aback to walk into an antique store in nearby Centerville on our recent trip and find this.

Centerville, Indiana

On the one hand, I’m glad to see that this sign didn’t end up in a landfill. On the other, I’m sad to find it in such condition.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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22 responses to “Neon sign, lost”

  1. Gerald Avatar

    You weren’t tempted to buy it then? Might look pretty cool in your front garden :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thing is taller than me! I think it would stand out a little in the neighborhood.

  2. karlsulac Avatar

    Quite a coincidence that you got there in time before it goes for ever.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder if it’s even for sale. It makes quite a conversation piece in this shop!

  3. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    If I had unlimited time and resources, I would adopt and save every old neon sign I could find. There is something about them that turns me into a kid and an art lover, all at the same time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh my, your wife would certainly not stand for that!!!!

  4. Dennis Wagoner Avatar

    How many hours did you spend in that shop? It looks like that kind of store. I am surprised you didn’t make them an offer for the sign anyway!

    1. loneprimateinto Avatar

      Yeah, so am I, to be honest. :)

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      We had a lot to see that day so we didn’t stay in this shop for more than 20 minutes. I’ve visited these shops before, however, and lingered for longer.

      This sign is enormous! I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it.

  5. Lone Primate Avatar

    Wow, Jim, captivating. What a poignant, and personal, set of before and after shots. Did you feel any urge to liberate it and maybe turn it into some back yard kitsch to light up the summer nights?

    I sure know what you mean about exhausting the mine of exploration. Seven or eight years ago I didn’t know what to do with myself on the weekends, there were so many little dead ends, half roads, and lost bridges I wanted to see. You’ve kind of drawn a line under why that’s been so absent from my blog lately: been there, done that. Literally.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I still have a desire to explore. Problem is, most new-to-me exploration involves driving somewhere and staying overnight to start the exploration the next morning. I seldom have that kind of time! I can give a day here and there during the nice-weather months and that’s it.

  6. Joe Avatar

    Interesting post Jim. Guess we never know what places will still be around 10 years from now. Most of the small business music stores I remember as a kid are gone now as well, sad but seems to happen frequently in this day and age. I too have national road (part of US 31) running through my town. I love that sign, would make a great “man cave” decoration with a cool story. Great post!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      US 31? The National is more or less US 40. But I’ve lived near US 31 most of my life, in Indiana, so I know that road well. Drove it all the way to its end in Alabama once. Have taken it most of the way to its end in Michigan.

      1. Joe Avatar

        us31 turns into national road while driving thru Columbus then back into us31 exiting Columbus. Two different national roads? I’m not very good with street names

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Aha I’m clear now! The National Road was the US’s first federally-funded road, stretching from Cumberland, MD, to Vandalia, IL along what is now mostly US 40. It was authorized in 1806 and built by about 1840.

  7. ambaker49 Avatar

    Your blog was a two-fer today. There is a local guy that buys old signs and restores them for display. He recently refurbished a Dog n Suds to full operability, and like new appearance. The other is memories of Tower Records. I grew up listening to music in their original music section of Tower Drugs, in Sacramento. Saturday mornings it was a ritual to go down and get their top 40 list. The building is sill there, it is now Tower Cafe. Music is much more readily available now. But the old man in me still loves remembering the thrill when your favorite song came on the radio; and the times when you had some extra lawn mowing money to actually buy the 45. Which then made your parents regret ever having children, as you played the darned thing ten times in a row.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I read something recently — or maybe I heard it on NPR? — about a documentary about Tower Records. It was by Tom Hanks’s son, or something like that. Out here in flyover country, we didn’t get cool stores like that.

  8. Sam Avatar

    That’s looks like a great place! I remember the local music stores around here that aren’t around any longer. Now you mostly find them in Manhattan.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      But where do the high-schoolers get their band instruments now?

      1. Sam Avatar

        I think they get them from the big chains, Guitar Center or Sam Ash.

  9. Donna J. Spivak Avatar
    Donna J. Spivak

    That was my grandmother’s music store. I have many wonderful memories of spending summers in Richmond in that music store. In the sixties it was hopping! Thank you for letting me know what happened to the sign. Her name was Virginia Hood and when her husband, Bob Hood, passed away, she ran it by herself for forty years. Eventually my mom and brother took it over until the internet came on the scene and Richmond’s downtown area went downhill.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I am so happy you found my post then! And thank you for sharing a part of this store’s history.

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