Whenever something is built, it carries an imprint of those who constructed it. Whenever I drive along the backroads of Kentucky, long, magnificient stone walls run often parallel to the route. I think about the skilled stonemasons and the hands that built those resilient walls 100, perhaps even 200, years before, and how their work connects to the present.
Such is the case for vintage signage as well. Even if the sign has gone dark, and the business that was identified it is now rendered defunct, it still serves as a touchstone to a bygone era. When such a sign is bulldozed, so is a bit of history and civic identity. Thankfully, there are those who are still striving to preserve these legacies. One such entity, of course, is the American Sign Museum, whose manager, Tod Swormstedt, has lovingly preserved many vintage signs.
Another individual striving to keep old signs — or, least, memories of them — alive is Martin Treu, author of Signs, Streets and Storefronts, which reflects on the interplay of signage and architecture throughout the 20th Century. On the Facebook affiliate with his book, Treu recently revealed the passing of Billy "Mac" Teague, who was proprietor of MAC Signs one of Oklahoma City’s most famous sign men. He died on December 21 at age 85.
Many Googie and mid-century signs that long identified Oklahoma City icons were built in his shop. The OKC Mod Squad blog has reflected on Teague’s work on multiple occasions. It cuts to the quick to see the beautiful gallery of signs, and next to them, see the word "Demolished".
To read Mr. Teague’s obituary, click here. However, it somehow seems more fitting to remember his work and its impact on the signs’ environs — and, of course, to the economic betterment of Teague’s customers.
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