Distinctly Montana Magazine

Distinctly Montana Spring 2020

Distinctly Montana Magazine

Issue link: http://digital.distinctlymontana.com/i/1220199

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Page 59 of 99

D I S T I N C T L Y M O N T A N A M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G 2 0 2 0 58 I T STARTED WITH A RANDOM PHOTO OF THE TOP NOTCH LUNCH SIGN IN GREAT FALLS. Originally an ice cream parlor, the sign was added in 1938 when the place became a diner. As I sat in a booth near the back of the cafe, enjoying a sloppy joe that was too big to pick up, I knew this sign was just the beginning. My quest to photograph vintage neon signs quickly turned into a full- blown obsession. Ducking into towns left behind when interstate highways bypassed them and seeking out the historic districts in bigger cities, I discovered fourteen Mint Bars and twelve Stockman Bars—the two most common independent bar names in the state. One-tavern towns didn't have fancy signs. There's no need when you're the only game in town. But where competition was stiff—Livingston and Lewistown, Shelby and Miles City—the signs enticed patrons to join in happy hour or have a meal. I, too, was enticed. So began the journey to photograph these endangered vintage neon signs that are the pride and joy of owners and the heart of the com- munities they enhance. An Endangererd Species Montana's Vintage Neon Signs photos and text by TERESA OTTO

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