Local Group Collecting Nostalgia One Sign At A Time

Thursday, January 28th 2021, 7:53 pm
By: Brian Mueller

Inside this Oklahoma City warehouse is an ode to Oklahoma’s past.

“Each one of these signs that we have has its own history. Every one of them will tell a story," said Jim Gleason, Vice President of the Billboard Museum Association.

To make sure those stories are not forgotten, Gleason and Kathy Anderson signed on to start the not-for-profit Billboard Museum Association in 2013.

"We’d also hear stories of, uh-oh, a business is going out, they’re wondering what they’re going to do with their sign, maybe they should put it up on Ebay. I kept thinking there’s got to be another option," said Anderson, the Billboard Museum Association President.

Kathy is a past president of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association and Jim owns G&S Sign Services.

From restaurant mascots to skyscraper neon signs, Kathy and Jim have amassed a collection of nearly 50 through acquisitions and donations. 

They’ve even restored some of them, like a vintage Taft Stadium sign.

You might recognize the newest addition to the collection. The iconic pink Cadillac from Ann’s Chicken Fry House.

Which brings us to the bittersweet part of their work. For each item gained, it means a business is lost.

“When we hauled off the pink caddy, I almost felt like I was at a funeral," said Gleason. "But they’re all relieved knowing that we’re protecting and we’re holding them.”

But holding them for what?

Well, the ultimate goal of the Billboard Association Museum is…to have a museum.

“With the twin missions of saving signs, and reacquainting people with the vintage advertising that used to be found on the billboards. How that’s going to happen, is yet to be revealed," said Anderson.

A sign that these relics of the past will indeed have a future.