The day of the speech I slept in, then went down for an excellent breakfast. I love this hotel. Everyone is just grand. Everyone’s cheerful. Everyone is awesome. From Ten to One I finalized my slides, then walked the powerpoint over to the museum. I walked around downtown again and went back to my room, where I ironed my clothes. Then I walked around downtown again, went back to my room, and ate some snacks to keep my energy up. At 3:40 I went to the museum, got miked up, took that last trip to the loo, ate a granola bar, got dry throat because I ate a granola bar, had a sip of urn coffee, then . . . showtime.

This sums up the state of downtowns everywhere:



On the left, a modernistic structure, restrained, deliberately ahistorical. On the right, across the alley, something from the 20s with loads of decoration, cut off by a post-war awning. The rehab uses the "eclectic" brick style.

In other words, the most recent addition to downtown is the worst. That's usually how it goes.

Question: why did grocery stores look like bowling alleys? And why did bowling alleys look like grocery stores?


You know what it is on sight. But you might wonder what the sign makers had in mind. "Let's put up a big mast and run the name down the sign off to the side."

Dead. It's possible it was a 30s five-and-dime chain, but it belonged to a universe where Woolworth's was green.

Red and Gold seemed to be the prefered hues for variety stores; I wonder if any chose green and silver.

You know, I really shouldn't research these on the fly; I should sit down and do some readin' and clickin' before I even start. It would keep me from saying things like "looks like Woolworth's."

Hurrah for my instincts.

1972, I'd say. The maximum amount of architectural insanity the post-war era had seen.

They kept designing these awnings that looked as if they'd slam down and turn pedestrians into jam.

Rent now, move in today! Note: bring umbrellas.

When they said "everything must go" they meant the roof, too.


"Guy lived up here, he was obsessed with bowling. We'd sit downstairs and here him roll balls across the floor and then he's make a crashing sound. I guess what he wanted the most was one of those overhead projectors that showed your scores for everyone."

I almost thought it was Ur-America, a travel agency that shows you the absolute most America ever.

There's the building we saw at the top - the ornate top, the dull remodeling. Now we see the Mystery of the Side.

Bollards keep people from running into the building if they've had a few.

The local department store? Maybe. The left entrance is grand, but the one on the right indicates a different store. TO SAY THE BLOODY OBVIOUS

I mean, I'm not pretending these are great insights gleaned from years of studying small-town buildings.

Here's a ghost sign from the side:

The name of the store? Lamoes! But no, that can't be it. Look at the left side of the image. Looks like . . . the "Famous." And that long strip below the word looks as if it's covering up some words.

Ah. Maybe this was the reason I did Porterville.

It's a movie theater. Or was.

Two screens: Onmill showing on one, and Moto M at the other.

"The building is currently undergoing renovations and is for lease," says a comment at Cinema Treasures.

In 2009.

So this, perhaps, is why I did this town. Take a look at this picture of the interior.

Here's something to consider. The same corner, a few years apart.

Which one's newer?

Obviously the bottom picture. They added a cornice, which is rare. The brickwork doesn't fit. Nothing really works. Whatever that building was, it was taken away long ago.

I thought the building below looked as if it had emptied out in preparation for a renovation.

Alas, no.