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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dowdle Sporting Goods' Great Neon Sign

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I certainly remember Dowdle Sporting Goods. That's where the Lauderdales bought our custom-made bowling shoes, hand-crafted badminton racquets, and designer fencing outfits.

But for some reason, though I am usually as keen-eyed as a hawk, I have no memory of the store's wonderful neon sign, as shown here in an ad that ran in the 1977 Bartlett High School yearbook.

Too bad it's in black-and-white, but you can see a basketball and football, and look carefully and you can see neon tubes that — when lighted in sequence — would have shown the basketball bouncing and the football arcing through the air. Definitely a very cool sign, made here in Memphis by the Balton Sign Company.

I called the nice folks at Dowdle, who told me that a customer backed into the pole one day, sometime in the late 1970s, and knocked the whole thing down. All that neon was far too expensive to repair, and from what I understand the city (at least back then) was beginning to express concern about moving signs that distracted drivers, so the old neon sign wasn't replaced.

Too bad. But at least we still have a picture. Close your eyes and imagine how it might have looked. But NOT while you are driving!

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