Cincinnati – January 2015 -Custom Cars, Flying Pigs and Neon Signs

Our first road trip of the year was on a very cold Saturday with a run down to Cincinnati. First stop was the KOI Cavalcade of Cars Show at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Fortunately, we were there very early and were able to get a parking space literally next to the bridge from the garage into the convention center. Winter shows like this are always tricky in deciding if you want to freeze on the walk in or cook at the show, depending on what jacket you wear. With the close parking, we could easily make a run for it in just a light jacket, despite being 10 degrees.

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There were hundreds of custom cars across the main floor, as well as a secondary hall. In addition to the individually owned cars, they had cars from the movie Fast and Furious, hundreds of vendor booths, and a few local celebrities like Ickey Woods

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In the back corner of the main floor they had a demonstration area where a group of guys were literally chopping an old car, cutting off the roof, lower the pillars, and reattaching the roof.

After a few hours we were done with the show, and decided it was time for lunch. Our choice was Camp Washington Chili, a Cincinnati chili parlor founded in 1940. A well known Cincinnati landmark, it was moved to the current location in the 2000, with the new location modeled after a 1950s-style diner. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day every day but Sunday. The chili served by the restaurant has won numerous awards and in 2011 was featured on Man Versus Food.

The building next to the parking lot had a 4 floor mural of George Washington Organized like a painting in a frame, it features George Washington in drag — a campy sensibility — with a decorative hat, rouged cheeks, a big pearl necklace and a ruffled yellow dress with a low bust line revealing a hint of cleavage.

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Within the mural’s picture plane are some flying pigs, a metal robot and a gorilla that is holding up the letter “Y” at the end of the painted word “CAMP.” The mural is a (slightly forced) visual pun. The pigs and cow are references to the stockyards and meatpacking plants once along Spring Grove Avenue.

Just up the street from Camp Washington Chili is the American Sign Museum, which preserves, archives, and displays a collection of signs. Opened in 2005 the museum also displays the equipment utilized in the design and manufacture of signs.

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Over 200 signs and other objects are on display at the museum. The collection ranges from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. Highlights of the collection include samples of gold leaf lettering on glass, a Sputnik like plastic orb from a California shopping center, a rotating neon windmill from a Denver donut shop, Las Vegas showcards, and a fiberglass Frisch’s Big Boy statue with a slingshot in his pocket.

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Also included are from businesses such as Big Bear Stores, Howard Johnson’s and Earl Scheib. Over the museum’s entrance, visitors are greeted by a 20-foot-tall fiberglass genie from a Los Angeles carpet cleaning company. In 2008, the museum acquired a single-arch 1963 McDonald’s sign from Huntsville, Alabama. The sign features McDonald’s Speedee character, who was phased out in favor of Ronald McDonald in the 1960s.

The museum is set in an old industrial area, giving it an authentic feel. We highly recommend a visit to the American Sign Museum.