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Neon Advertising on Route 66

Neon was first introduced in 1910 at the Paris Motor Show. Long tubes of glass were filled with Nobel gases and ignited with electricity. These tubes glowed with bright colors that lasted years. Despite the craftsmanship needed to work with neon, its longevity made it affordable to store owners. By 1940 there were over 2,000 shops creating neon signage in the US, including Skip's grandfather who founded Nelson Neon.

Route 66 was known for its distinctive roadside culture, with numerous motels, diners, gas stations, and quirky attractions lining the route. During the post-war boom, many families traveled 66 looking for vacation adventure and this was not lost on the motel industry which needed a way to attract customers after sunset. Creative neon signs became the medium on which this artist chose to compete. The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, is an icon along Route 66, and its beautiful vintage sign is a big part of that. The sign was originally installed in 1955 by the Springfield Neon Company. Current owners Ramona and Bob Lehman noticed that the sign had deteriorated over the years and refurbished it in 2010. Today, Ramona believes that the Munger Moss sign is “the most beautiful sign on this highway,” and many travelers agree. Ramona once commented on a documentary that if she had a quarter for every picture taken of the sign, she would be a millionaire. A couple of years ago a guest checked in and took several pictures of the sign. The next day, he went into the office and laid down 4 quarters. When Ramona asked what they were for he replied, “I saw you on a documentary film and I’m trying to help you become a millionaire!”

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