Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


ROADSIDE VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE is architecture with a sense of humor, as described in the book California Crazy.

California Crazy: American Pop Architecture, by Jim Heimann, Taschen, 2018. 

Actually, my edition of this book is the original California Crazy, published in 1980 by Chronicle Books. 

As the cover blurb of either book indicates, “California Crazy is the style of architecture that seems to typify California itself: naive, direct, unpretentious. These buildings were designed to catch the eye, to be remembered. No ad agency conceived them—they were designed by the owners themselves, poured of ferro concrete and shaped by the undisguised desire to sell.” 

And to entertain.

Here are tidbits about my favorites cited in the book, some of which still exist. I also gleaned backstories from the Internet, including Hollywood authority Martin Turnbull’s website.  

Bob’s Air Mail Service Station, 5453 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1934. Martin Turnbull observes, “The plane is a 32-passenger Fokker F-32, which was a white elephant of an aircraft that never really worked right…. It sure must have been eye catching because in 1934, Bob’s Air Mail Service Station sold more Mobiloil and Mobilgas products than any other dealer on the West Coast.”

This and other images from California Crazy.

Sanderson’s Hosiery, 11711 Olympic Boulevard, 1948. I’m reminded of Ralphie’s Old Man’s “major award” in A Christmas Story.

Martin Turnbull quotes a report: “When they opened in 1948, they raised actress Marie Wilson up to it via crane.”

Randy’s Donuts, 805 West Manchester, Inglewood, 1954. Randy’s website lists locations as varied as its original in Inglewood to four locations in South Korea, one in Saudi Arabia, one nearby in Costa Mesa, and another with Grand Opening March 22, 2022, in my own Santa Ana (alas, without a giant donut).

Cabazon Monster, Interstate 10, Cabazon, started 1965; completed 1975. Wife Dottie and I celebrated at the Cabazon dinosaurs in our “From Sea to Shining Sea” adventure. 

Above, Dinny from California Crazy. Below, Mr. Rex was added in 1986.  

Kenyon’s Desert Plunge, El Centro, 1929. A memorial to Fred Kenyon, 1891–1937, noted, “Fred first worked for the Edgar Brothers firm and in 1923 they opened Kenyon’s Desert Plunge that continued to be the city swimming pool until it was demolished in 2010.”

The El Centro Plunge has already appeared here at SimanaitisSays: “Ditchbank Girl remembers taking swimming lessons at The Plunge, but learned to swim in an irrigation canal.” Thus, Wife Dottie’s nickname. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 


  1. Jack Albrecht
    March 18, 2022

    I had the same thought when I saw that giant leg. “It’s a major award!” LOL.

  2. Bill Rabel
    March 18, 2022

    Hat and Boots Gas Station in Seattle. The rest rooms are in the boots.

  3. Mike B
    March 18, 2022

    The Giant (Mammoth (Colossal (etc))) Orange!

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