SPACE AGE ROADSIDE AMERICANA

People love the road and part of the romance is roadside Americana – signs, advertising displays, wall murals, playground climbers and tourist attractions. Signs which have only seconds to grab our attention must be eye-catching and succinct. By the early 1960s businesses had discovered the draw of space themed names and symbols. One sign in this exhibit communicates that dry cleaning will be “Martinized” with rocket speed; another implies that serviced cars will surge with rocket power. Down the strip two other signs invite passersby to choose between Astro Tires – “The Outperformers” or Sonic Tires – “The tire of the future today.” A red block letter sign announces Space Age fuel – Satellite Gasoline. The Space Age highway survives in memory. Outdoor signs have succumbed to the elements or been replaced. We have rescued some roadside relics of the period and we have found images of others in postcards and old photographs. Space Age Museum’s Peter Kleeman has mounted several cross-country expeditions to track down and photograph some of the few pieces of “Space Age roadside” that still stand. This exhibit includes examples of his work. Through the rearview mirror of history Space Age Museum’s exhibit of roadside Americana recalls an era when advertising images not only promised new heights of speed, power and pleasure, but also inspired Americans to dream of a brighter future in the Space Age.