Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fixtures, Salida Edition

Driving around Denver, one frequently sees old signs for businesses both extant and long-gone. You know the signs of which I speak: often rusted and sometimes swinging crooked from their shingles, and if they have affiliated light bulbs, a number of those are burnt out.

When I was a mere youth, obsessed with the shiny and new as most youths tend to be, these signs seemed confirmation to my teenage self that our hometown was a backwater stuck in the 1960s. I yearned for something new, for a bulldozer to come wipe out those buildings and their associated signs, and give us some Real Progress. Like a new mall, or something.

This is why city planners do not hire teenagers.

After a decade soaking up some quality industrial decay in the likes of Philadelphia, Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey, I have come to love these old signs and the memories of times past they have come to represent.

How wonderful to see signs featuring old telephone exchanges! Hey teenagers, know what those are? But to be fair, how many in my own generation have even heard of a telephone exchange? Learn more here and here (and points to anyone who calls the Hotel Pennsylvania after reading those).

And how quaint and lovely that older folks such as my grandparents do not lose their guideposts from younger days.

The Cady's Sign, 2007
Case in point: there was once a Cady's Hardware Store on F Street in Salida. The store opened in 1947 or early 1948 and was run by its owner, Jack Cady.

My grandparents moved to Salida in 1947 so that Grandpa Ruttum could run his own dairy processing plant and Grandma, despite her most concerted efforts at bringing up nice, civilized children, could raise three little hellions (I've heard the stories, so don't try to deny it, guys!).

Cady's was a store they visited on occasion, and I imagine my grandfather--who came downtown for the news and was friendly with the Cadys--probably stopped by to chat it up at the shop.

Amazingly, while the store closed sometime around 1992, I was still able to snap a photo of the sign in 2007 (although it has since been removed).

Until my grandfather passed away a few years ago, both grandparents would still refer to chance sightings of neighbors, or the opening of a new shop, by their proximity to the shuttered Cady's.

"I ran into Mr. X this afternoon, down in front of Cady's," grandpa would say, circa 1995, or

"Did you see the new bookstore in town? It's across the street from Cady's," he would tell grandma when he stopped home for lunch between rounds of golf and a trip to the local library.

Not having grown up in Salida, I naturally thought Cady's was still open, so was shocked to learn they had closed years before!

So here's a tribute to small town life, my wonderful grandparents, and the preservation of small markers of that which has gone before.

And a big thank you to the librarian at the Salida Public Library, Jeffrey Donlan, for double-checking Cady's dates of operation for me!


  1. Sadly, they do let teenagers (or people more stupid than teenagers) control city planning. Ugh.

    I love old signs though! Signs!

  2. Thanks for sharing your photos, Michelle! You should come visit...we have a veritable gold mine of old signs out here!

  3. I've lived in Rifle for 55 years, so I still give directions to natives in terms of buildings which burned down decades ago (down the street from the old Moose Lodge) or went out of business decades ago (it's down the street from Burkey's Lumber). I think this is partly because both of those buildings were replaced with multiple users. So referring to Burkey's is easier than saying, "It's the building that houses the Workforce Center and some engineering firm." My great aunt is buried in Salida. When I went to find her grave in the 1980s, I asked some older people at the cemetery if they knew where the Hampsons were buried. Yes, they replied, and they led me to Chet's unprepossessing grave. He died in the 1930s and no Hampson had lived there since, but I guess he made an impression while he was alive.

  4. Hey Jude, thanks for your comment.

    I'm glad to hear someone is keeping this form of direction-giving alive! It doesn't work so well anymore in Denver, as many people are originally from elsewhere these days.

    Nor would it work in my other "hometown," New York, since they barely let a building stand long enough for folks to get used to it, before tearing it down for a new one!

    And I'm glad to hear you had no trouble finding your relatives. Salida's not a bad spot to have as your final resting place!

  5. I hadn't seen this post before. We are related! I know because of the Salida grandparent in the dairy business. Please, please Google me, and write. Or let me know that you monitor comments before posting them on your blog and won't share my email with the world. I'll them send you my contact info.

    Kari Boyd McBride