Before the Interstate Highway System was developed, state routes and roadside motels dotted the southwestern landscape. Privately owned businesses lined these thoroughfares with unique signage offering a variety of services for the long-distance traveler. Greasy-spoon cafés and auto-service stations shared the strip. With the introduction of the Interstate System, travel was faster and more convenient, but the quality of character was supplanted by larger chains and a decidedly more corporate appeal.
Denny’s and Auto-Zone replaced these local businesses, few of which survive today.
More than half a century ago now, this particular sign – a red and white vintage neon for Leo’s Auto Supply – was purchased and moved to the intersection of Glenn & Stone in Tucson, Arizona, by the proprieter of Don’s Hot Rod Shop. One of the owners, Leo Toia, had it relocated.
Along the Old Benson Highway, many of the small old roadside Motels survive, and Tucson boasts a host of vintage neon signs along the now-infamous Miracle Mile. Many of the old businesses have been lost, but there is a rich history here in Tucson, and this Leo’s Auto Supply sign is one of the survivors.