Today a drawing based (roughly) on a photograph of something that has long made me feel like I’m arriving home. Before I could read, I knew that my name began with A and that it looked like this sign. On the way home from long trips, we often drove by this sign because it is very close to where I grew up. We’d exit US-23 by the “A,” and arrive home in about 5 minutes.
Of course those weren’t the only times we drove past there. Going to the old Kroger’s on Washteanaw, and other places, I’d plead with my mother to take me the way that passed the “A.”
It inspired this Flickr photo set a few years ago, when I made my first attempt at a 365. If you had not been to Ann Arbor since the 1980’s you wouldn’t recognize Arborland anymore, instead of a real mall, it is now an ugly strip-mall. The old tile mosaic of Jack and the Beanstalk from the entrance has been transplanted into Kerrytown.
There were other signs, either recently or soon-to-be dismantled or modified due to a zoning ordinance that limits the size, distance, and composition of signs along major thoroughfares. The Arby’s sign will probably have to be taken down since it is too big and flashy, and the sign for Big Ten Party Store (now Morgan and York) lost its neon when the owners changed the name. Big George’s used to have neon too, I think, but since they moved a few doors down and expanded, it has been taken down.
On the one hand, I understand that Ann Arbor wants to be a high class town, and too much neon might make us look like Las Vegas, but the Arborland sign is emblematic, visible from nearly a mile up and down US-23, and about the same distance up and down Washtenaw. It lets us know we are home, in the home of the “A.”