January 27, 2008

Signs of Salinas

For a city of nearly 150,000, it's common to hear the people who live in Salinas describe it as a "small town." This sleepy city, our home for the past six and half years, has clung to that small town feeling . . . especially in the revived Oldtown Salinas district, where much of the architecture dates to the childhood of favorite son John Steinbeck. Back in Southern California's "Inland Empire," greedy city councils are selling off the character of our former hometowns as fast as developers can slap bills into their palms. So it's nice to see that some California towns aren't being entirely paved over, or filled with soulless strip malls and lookalike chains. To be fair, Salinas has mowed down plenty of its own historic places--but plenty of individual character remains, if you know where to look.

The restored Fox Theater has reclaimed its role as the jewel of Oldtown Salinas, especially at night, when its grand neon sign beckons . . . and Charlie Daniels is playing.

Still standing along North Main Street is the Wagon Wheel, a relic of the days before endless chains of Motel 6 and Holiday Inns.

Travelers' Hotel, Oldtown Salinas . . . a cool sign, but don't ask about the AAA rating.

Sun and swirling clouds frame a packing house that continues to remind travelers on Highway 68 of the valley's role as the "Salad Bowl of America."

Roy's Drive-In closed its doors a few years ago when its owner retired. Today the building endures as a Mexican seafood place, complete with a redesigned neon sign.

Animated pins and a neon Martini . . . who's up for a bowl?

1 comment:

Martin Burwash said...

Nice work, EL.

Martin Burwash