Invasion of the Pod Signs

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On October 28, the intrepid J. Eric Freedner made a fascinating discovery...

"This may make Kim sad and Earl mad, but I found Swain Sign Installers on 5th Street in Ontario, CA late this afternoon. Here's what I saw: 76 ball signage at Swain Sign Installers, Ontario, CA - Oct 2006 New 76 "hubcap" signs ready to go. Ironically, an old orange 76 sign (flat style) can be seen from the alley, across I-10 Freeway. 76 ball signage at Swain Sign Installers, Ontario, CA - Oct 2006 Rows of new ConocoPhillips 76 price signs, all in crates. This is definitely the source of the new signs! Whether Swain makes them on site or just gets them in and only installs them, I do not know. 76 ball signage at Swain Sign Installers, Ontario, CA - Oct 2006 Another view of the new 76 signs... And now the sad stuff... 76 ball signage at Swain Sign Installers, Ontario, CA - Oct 2006 An old 76 ball, broken into pieces and stuffed into a big roll-off, awaits a final trip to the dump! This is the only one I saw at Swain's - none stored at the yard - so I guess they break them up as they come in and have them hauled away? 76 ball signage at Swain Sign Installers, Ontario, CA - Oct 2006 At least I caught up with this before the sun went down. What can I say, other than sometimes preserving gas history is a bit painful?"

Another sign shop

Mr. Freedner's photos from a sign shop reminded me of a photo I took a few months ago at a new sign shop established just a few blocks from my home in Renton, Washington. When I looked at the photo today, I noticed on the upper right side something that looks like an orange metal beret with a fisheye hook on the top. It's the actual topper for a 76 spinning ball!

I've always wondered what was inside those, and how they keep the top motionless so they have something to hang pennants from. Most of the 76 stations were closed in Washington State in the mid-1980s, except for a few stations near Interstate exits. Most of the balls were gone by then, so it is a rare find to spot any traces of them now around here.