Future generations will not be able to enjoy Oklahoma City’s world famous Carlyle Motel sign on Route 66. It is gone. The owners sold it back in January and replaced it with this ugly backlit piece of junk. I noticed it today driving home from the kids’ soccer game on the west side of Oklahoma City.
So, this is really unfortunate. It sucks, actually. A grand piece of Americana and Oklahoma pop culture is now for sale on the Internet. (I guess.) Early reports said a local company, City Glass, bought it, but the contact for the sale is in Ohio. Nice. It’s probably going to end up in some sign museum in Nevada or on some movie set in L.A. It’s too bad the pop culture museum that’s in the works for Tulsa, OK Pop, couldn’t negotiate a purchase. Here is the promotional flyer from the sellers. Thankfully, they’re taking care of it!
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Oklahoma has failed at cultural preservation. Which reminds me, when I worked at Tinker in the 1990s, the guy in the office next to me was in charge of cultural resources for the base. Tinker has a number of World War II-era buildings that according to military regulation must be managed, cared for and preserved.
The Department of Defense’s Cultural Resources Program was and is a really cool program that helps ensure the preservation of military heritage for future generations. The military believes it enhances their mission and connects fighting men and women with history and traditions.
We could learn a lot from the military.
I’m sure Oklahoma’s travel brochures will continue to boast Oklahoma as the state with the longest continuous stretch of Route 66. After all, we do have this awesome Route 66 Museum in Clinton. But, isn’t a dubious brag when we’re not aggressively working to preserve the very things that make Route 66 the Mother Road?
Farewell, Carlyle Motel sign.
So, who’s to blame for NOT putting someone in charge of cultural treasures like this along Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66? It’s not like there’s hundreds of these signs.
The sign was constructed in 1958. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president; Sputnik was launched and Buddy Holly had a top record with Maybe Baby. Gasoline cost 24 cents a gallon and a stamp was four cents. It really wasn’t that long ago, but then again, I guess it was. My parents had been married just three years.
Here’s a shot of the pool. How, nice of them to leave the diving board fixtures and ladder rails. I’m sure this got filled in decades ago. Two or three generations of American kids played in this pool, folks. I bet there are pictures of those days in somebody’s photo album. Good times, I’m sure.
Click to Enlarge
If you like vintage signs, click here to see my collection of retro signs throughout Oklahoma City.
Also, it seems worth noting that in another city on Route 66, Tucumcari, they tear down the crappy motels and keep the signs. Because of hope.
There is no more Lasso Motel. But, there is a Lasso Motel sign. I shot these pictures on our trip to Tucumcari last summer.
Same goes for the Pony Soldier Motel. The motel was condemned and torn down, but Route 66 enthusiasts in Tucumcari advocated to keep the sign standing.