Over on the edge of town
Neon sign spinnin’ round
Like a cross over the lost and found
–From Springsteen and Girls In Their Summer Clothes
Jesus Saves Sign
Last weekend, my husband Robert and I took a drive down by the Oklahoma City Boathouse District. I wanted to get a picture of an old neon church sign that says Jesus The Son of God Saves and Heals. I’d spotted it south of the river. I discovered it the week Juliette was attending rowing camp and wanted to add it to my retro sign card collection.
The sign is located on South Central Avenue, a street I have rarely been down in the 25 years I’ve lived in this city. Although the bent gas tubes still appear to be in decent shape, the sign hasn’t been illuminated with gases in decades.
I love retro signs especially a Jesus Saves Sign. It brings back memories of my father who preached in urban missions and pastored rural churches throughout my childhood and youth. I can’t readily associate all memories with time or place, but the memories are there. Maybe I saw my first neon church sign in downtown Los Angeles when he preached at Peniel Mission or during or on trips to Colorado College where he worked in the historic part of Colorado Springs.
Maybe I remember them from the First Baptist Church in West Texas or maybe it was that trip we took through Joplin in the early 1980s. I can’t say, I just know that by the time I saw these signs for the first time, they were already old. New churches were being built without the noisy hardwood floors. They also featured something mysterious and quite dreadful: atriums. They certainly didn’t have neon signs, which began to decline in popularity right around the time the first wave of Gen Xers like me were born.
So, after I photographed the Jesus Son of God Saves and Heals sign, I looked across the street and saw this rock church with blue-green trim.
This is one of the most amazing examples of slag glass that I’ve seen in OKC. It was popular around the early 1900s, and considered a low-grade of glass at the time.
Dora Ice Cream!
There are a lot of things in the Heartland I never saw until I bought my Nikon and started shooting. People sitting on porches, both happy and sad; milk glass windows and sprinklers in the sun. I hope someday I can translate everything I heard while I photographed this place, and the things I never heard anybody say in the Bible Belt.