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  • Saved: the “Ackerman” Buick Sign

    Posted on September 7th, 2011 Toby Weiss 15 comments
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    Last time I visited at the end of August, the Ackerman Buick site was about 55% percent demolished.  Here’s the Ackerman Buick back-story.

    At this time, the neon sign (above) was the only thing standing that was still relatively intact, and I worried for it.  Then the other day I got an email with this photo attached:

    After closing my gaping jaw, I read the e-mail from Dean Wieneke, who wrote:

    “Saw your article about the Ackerman dealership neon sign after I bought it from the wrecking company Spirtas. We started on it Friday, and just removed the neon and the bulbs and the cover up or add-on of “Ackerman Buick Inc” portion.  Now it looks TOTALLY different, for the better I may add. It now says “Dickerson Motors Inc. Used Car Dept.” We’ll be finishing the removal sometime this weekend.”

    I immediately replied to my new hero for more details, which he supplied, in spades:

    “I’ve always been a big fan of this sign, being an old sign junkie. It has everything: it’s porcelain, it’s old, it’s large, it has a great font, it’s die cut across the top,  it’s NEON, and it even has chaser lights at the bottom.  Lets face it, this is a classic, one-of-a-kind, Americana old school sign from when thought was actually put in to signage, and not just something that corporate pumped out, like today’s boring dealership signs.  I couldn’t let this have the same fate as the buildings did.

    “I contacted Spirtas (who were/are great to work with) and within a day or so was told I could purchase it.  So last Friday my brother, Joe, and my father, Jim, and I started in on this on one of the hottest days of the year and got it to the point you see now. We shall return this weekend with more wasp spray!

    “The sign is 50 feet long and the sign portion is 8 foot high, had probably a hundred feet of neon on it and 144 lights across the bottom.

    “What am I going to do with it…? Good Question! My beautiful and patient wife is wondering the same thing and is about ready to choke me over the whole ordeal.  Hell, I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it really, but I just could NOT let it be destroyed by the wrecking claw! More than likely I’ll trailer it up and haul it to my house and store it until I can find a suitable place for it.  It may end up on display in my Dads pole barn, but that seems to be a waste of a “local land mark,” so if someone has a better idea let me (and my wife, ha!) know.”

    From left to right: Joe Wieneke, my hero Dean Wieneke, and their father, Jim.

    Since Dean has done such a great public service in the name of recent past preservation (and shared these 2 photos), let’s help him out if we can. There’s 2 things he wants to know:

    • Does anyone have any knowledge about Dickerson Motors, Inc. ?

    • Any do-able ideas for what to do with the sign so that the public can keep gazing upon it?

    My first thought for the second question is the Antique Warehouse. Here’s some of the other neon signs they have safely stored away. But I know you all have way more brilliant ideas (and astounding recall of St. Louis history), so help a hero out, will ya?

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    15 Responses to “Saved: the “Ackerman” Buick Sign”

    1. Toby, Contact me I have some great pics od the demo. Tim

    2. Museum of Transportation would be a nice donation – perhaps they could purchase it?

      Also, any dealership looking to re-brand may also be interested. It would look great along Route 66 – and more importantly – it may influence other dealerships to go retro!

    3. City Museum or the other attraction that Bob Cassilly was developing in North StL?

    4. Thanks for preserving this piece. It’s always cool when you pull off the top section adn find a beauty underneath.
      The American Sign Museum (www.signmuseum.org) would be willing to talk to you about it. We have an in-house neon shop for such projects. We are also a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corp.
      call Tod at 513-258-4020.

    5. Bravo to the Wieneke’s for saving this treasure! How incredibly cool and once again showing how your work on this website really makes a difference.

    6. Julie (Dickerson) Chung

      Hi there – I about fell over when I saw your post! My dad (William E. Dickerson) and uncle (Thomas Dickerson) owned Dickerson Motors in the 1950′s. It was a Lincoln Mercury dealership located at 6116 Natural Bridge Rd. in St. Louis (I have some of his old business cards and other business mementos). I was 3 when we moved to Ohio in 1960 – so I don’t remember anything about it – only what I’ve been told. However, I have older cousins who probably know more history. Thanks for your post – it’s great the sign has been preserved. I’m going to forward this to my cousins!

    7. Julie (Dickerson) Chung

      P.S. I should have said “older cousins and a sister who probably know more history” – I just forwarded the info to all of them :)

    8. Carolyn (Dickerson)Zerman

      Hi,
      I am Julie Chung’s older sister and I do, in fact, have lots of information about Dickerson Motors including LOTS of 8 x 10, black and white photos of the dealership and of the sign you have. I would LOVE to communicate with you and, perhaps, scan the pictures so you can see where it was originally. I, like my sister, Julie, am absolutely stunned by this.
      My contact information is:
      Carolyn Zerman
      2671 Charing Road
      Columbus, OH 43221
      Cell: 614-565-7177
      Email: carolyn.zerman@gmail.com

    9. Carolyn (Dickerson)Zerman

      Hi,
      I posted a comment earlier but I don’t see it on here. I am Julie Chung’s older sister to whom she referred. I have quite a few photos of the Dickerson Motors dealership. Would love to hear from you.
      Contact info:
      Carolyn Zerman
      email: carolyn.zerman@gmail.com
      Cell: 614-565-7177

      Best regards,
      Carolyn

    10. Steve Dickerson

      Yep ……

      That’s the sign of the Dickerson brothers…

      Bill, Tom, and Jack Dickerson……

      My dad was Jack Dickerson….

      To this day we all still drive FORD’s…….

      Carolyn (Dickerson) Zerman, Bill Dickersons
      daughter-(Julie Chungs sister) have lots of old photos of the place and Uncle Bill – (one shaking hands with Debbie Reynolds after a sale)

    11. Carolyn (Dickerson) Zerman

      This is my third attempt to submit a comment. I don’t know why they are not posting. Hopefully this time.
      I am Julie (Dickerson) Chung’s sister, Carolyn. I do have quite a few pictures of the Dickerson Motors dealership, including photos of the Used Car Dept. with sign very visable. I would be happy to scan and email some of these photos to you.
      My contact information is:
      Carolyn Zerman
      Cell: 614-565-7177
      email: carolyn.zerman@gmail.com

    12. If ANYONE would have some old photos, other memorabilia on this, it would be my dear friend, Carolyn, the first daughter! Julie, don’t know how you came across this, but what a treasure!!

      Love Retro!

    13. Oh Carolyn, I would love to have some of those photos to post on B.E.L.T. As well as any memories you’d care to write about.
      I’m thrilled you all found the post about the sign, and now know that it’s still alive and well!

    14. Julie (Dickerson) Chung

      Hi again:
      My cousins Don and Kathy sent me a photo of the Dickerson Motors sign. Hopefully you can got to the link below to see it. My sister Carolyn will be sending you more.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/29961711@N05/6965327292/in/set-72157629894306239/

    15. WOW this is great information! Very cool to hear the history of this giant retro cool sign. If there are any more picture of the dealership I would love to see them. Great job Toby!