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Wildwood’s Neon Nights + Motel Memories Book Signing Sat 9/25/2010

Posted on: September 22, 2010


Tags: 1950s, 1960's, Book Signing, Diner Photographer, Doo Wop Preservation League, hotel, Jersey Shore, Memories, Motel, neon, New Jersey, Nights, NJ, Philadelphia Inquirer, RetroStockPix, Schiffer books, Vintage Vacation, Wildwood


The book Wildwood’s Neon Nights & Motel Memories by Robert O. and Melinda M. Willams was recently published by my fave local publisher Schiffer Books, and is right up my Retro Roadmap alley. The fact that the Doo Wop Preservation League in Wildwood NJ will be hosting a book signing this Saturday 9/25 with the book’s photographer Robert O. Williams is reason enough to tell you all about this tome right now, so you have time to make it to the signing!

wildwoods-neon-nights-motel-memories-retro-roadmap

This book contains over 220 color photographs of the neon signs, vintage motels and vacation memories associated with the history of Wildwood, NJ. For those not in the know, Wildwood is home to the country’s most densely packed collection of 1950’s motels, hotels and businesses. Inspired by post-war optimism about the future, the architectural designs for these mom and pop motels broke the mold with their inventive use of angles, color, materials and subject matter. The signs that beckoned summer travelers to stay the night also exemplified that same sort of exuberance, with swooping arrows, pointing sputniks and enough colored neon to light up the night for miles around.

More than just a fond reminiscence or collection of striking photos (there are plenty of both in there), the book is also a cautionary tale about how easily these places can fall prey to the wrecking ball in the name of revitilization and profit. A number of the photos show the heartbreaking reality of demolition sales and the colorful and kitschy places that no longer exist.

This book is far from a bummer though, with plenty of bright and detailed photos from Robert and entertaining and informative writing by Melinda. Their original content is featured along with some great vintage shots of the area, including some from RetroStockPix.com (you may remember them being featured here as our Swoonworthy Vintage Motel & Vacation Photos).

If anything, the fact that we realize these places may not be here forever, coupled with the impact of the great photos in this book are motivation enough to book your next Wildwood stay at a vintage motel, today!

Casa Bahama Motel, Wildwood NJ. Pool Area - Retrostockpix.com RetroRoadmap.comFans of diner photographs (myself included) have known of Robert’s work with his acclaimed book Hometown Diners, (get your personalized copy right here at this link). Or perhaps you might recognize his images from his years spent behind the lens as an award winning photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Melinda, his wife is also an alumni of  The Philadelphia Inquirer and now runs The Williams Group “an agency specializing in marketing, public relations, journalism and photography with an emphasis on nostalgia.” Both of them spent over 10 years in collecting and creating the images and content sandwiched between the covers of Wildwood’s Neon Nights and Motel Memories, and we are all the better for it.

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  • Hello Mod Betty!!!!

    All I can say is ” Wow” and a sincere “thank you” for reviewing our book ( and letting your readership know about our book signing this Saturday)! This is a wonderful, wonderful analysis of the book. Bob and I feel you have it “spot on”! 🙂

    We, too, are fans of yours! Bob admired your “Diner Show” at The Doo Wop Experience earlier this summer. We both enjoy your website very much and naturally embrace the same types of culture.

    Kudos to you ( and your readership) for seeing what is important and beautiful in historical preservation and the need to educate and enlighten those who may not readily embrace it!

    It’s a good idea to take the road less traveled and be inspired and delighted with what you find there!

    BTW, our website ( http://www.WildwoodsNeonNights.com) does have copies of Bob’s first book, ” Hometown Diners” available ( so your readers need not look so far)!

    Thank you again for your beautifully written account of our book! It made our day!!

    Mel & Bob Williams
    Wildwood’s Neon Nights & Motel Memories

    • Aw shucks! Thanks so much for the kind words and the great book! So glad I could do my part to spread the word about it. I’ll make sure folks know that they can get a copy of the Hometown DIners book from you folks- I may just have to upgrade my copy to a personally signed one 🙂 Keep up the good work, neighbors!

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