single frame: Old McDonald’s sign

Old McDonald's sign

Old McDonald’s sign
Canon PowerShot S95

Lately I’ve been photographing the neighborhood I live in and the shopping centers and restaurants within walking distance. It’s what’s convenient to photograph while I work from home.

Almost all of this stuff has been built in the last five years, and a lot of it within the last 18 months. So we have the latest in strip-mall and fast-food architecture, such as it is.

On Flickr, someone commented on a photo I posted of our brand new Wendy’s. “Thank you for documenting the times,” he said. “In the future folks will see these and say, ‘I remember when the fast food places changed their look!’”

I thought of that when I came upon this photo I made a few years ago of a McDonald’s sign in Richmond, Indiana. It dates to the late 1960s or early 1970s. I grew up in the 1970s, so I remember when these were common. Few are left now. That’s why I stopped to photograph it.

What if someone had photographed places like this extensively back in the 1970s? We’d have an outstanding record of what the United States looked like at that moment in time. Throwback signs like this were all brand new once. The new Wendy’s in my neighborhood will, one day, be a throwback too.

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10 responses to “single frame: Old McDonald’s sign”

  1. J P Avatar

    These things change slowly over time and we don’t really notice until we see a picture like this. I still think of this as “the new one” – which it’s not, of course. Now I want to look for pictures of an old Arby’s with the giant hat sign.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Go to Flickr and search for “Arby’s hat.” Boom.

  2. analogphotobug Avatar

    Nice touch with the Flag in the Arch…..great old signs weren’t they? I do be lieve I have an old Arby’s hat somewhere in my collection. I’ll look for it……

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve yet to encounter an Arby’s hat on my road trips! I remember them from childhood, though.

      1. G P Avatar
        G P

        I haven’t been that way in a long time, but I remember the last “old” Arby’s hat sign I saw was on Hwy 20 (just west of 421) in Michigan City.

  3. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    I sort of remember that there was a time when they put an actual number on the sign, instead of ‘billions and billions’.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember the number climing through the billions as a kid, and then all the signs said 99 Billion, and then the new signs started saying Billions and Billions.

      My mom remembers when the signs counted the millions!

  4. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    All those boring contemporary items we take for granted: the cars; the clothes; the hair-styles; the shops; the signs – they’ll all be wonderful nostalgia in years to come, it’s just hard to see it in the light of the present.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yep. We’re living in it, and we have thoughts and feelings about it — we don’t see it through the lens of 20 years from now.

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