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The "Bob's Place" Sign

Bob and Diane at the 1999 Grand Opening of the World Headquarters of Team Terrific Racing and the reveal of the grand Bob's Place sign.

 

On Nov. 21, 2019 9News did a great little story on the nightly Next program with Kyle Clark.   Click on the above picture (or here) to take you to their website where you can view this wonderful video produced by Corky Scholl.  By the way, in his off hours, Corky is integral to the "Save The Signs" effort which is doing some really cool preservation work

(Click images to enlarge)

The “Bob’s Place" neon sign in the shop has a great back story.  

In fact, “Bob’s Place” holds a soft spot in the hearts of many folks who have been around Denver for any length of time.  The sign is really quite spectacular and invariably evokes great memories for those who recognize it as a genuine piece of Denver history. 

BP_Front_Color_web.jpg (287038 bytes)The “Bob's Place” sign came off the roof of a landmark filling station which was at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Alameda.  The station was run by Bob Gilmour from about 1928 until the late ‘70s.   He died in 1983 still living in his house which was next door to the station.   But the station remained, being used variously as a Christmas tree lot, a garden center, etc. until 1994 when the building was finally torn down.  

BP_Gilmour_GroundBreaking_web.jpg (298574 bytes)Bob Gilmore's father owned a large dairy farm where the filling station was built. Indeed, Glendale was known as "Cow Town USA" because of all the dairy cows locate "way out  there" on south Colorado Boulevard back then.  The story goes that in the late ‘20s, just after getting married, Bob unfortunately lost an arm working for the railroad.  His father carved out a place for the filling station on the family farm, Cottage Home Dairy (one of seven dares in Glendale) ,in order for Bob to have a livelihood -- one which Bob actively pursued until his health failed in the ‘80s.  Bob Gilmour's influence went well beyond just the station.  He went on to became one of the city fathers of Glendale where the farm and the station were located.  Here are a couple of newspaper articles about Mr. Gilmour: Denver Post - Oct 1976 and Denver Business - April 1987.  At right is him at some sort of civic ground breaking ceremony.  Ironically they gave the shovel to the only guy with just one arm.

BP_House-Station_Color_web.jpg (314796 bytes) In November, 2019 I was able to spend a couple of enjoyable hours talking to John Gilmour, Jr, Bob Gilmour’s son. Some interesting facts came out the conversation. Namely, the neon signage was probably added to the station in the early ‘40s. John recalls a 1936 Ford which his Dad drove. Living in a building behind the station was a fellow “who was an artist.”  He asked the guy to paint something on the trunk lid of the car to promote the station. (If you will, an early “wrap”). Bob had already been using the “Bob Cat For Service” slogan. Thus the idea of the Tuxedo adorned Bob Cat was painted on the Ford’s truck lid. They also added “Howdy Folks” and "A Bob Cat for Service” to the trunk lid. Bob recalls when riding in the car, getting thumbs up and horn beeps from folks.

It was sometime later that the “Howdy Folks” was actually added to the top of the building (early ‘40s?). Then later yet the big “Bob’s Place” was added, above and surrounding the original “Howdy Folks” on the roof top. Also added later were the “A Bob Cat For Service” sign across the front and the iconic Bob Cat sign dressed in a Tux. When the building was being razed, I considered trying to get the sign. But I didn’t follow thru because at the time I didn’t have any place to put the sign.  But after getting the 240 Bryant building in 1997, inquiries were started to see if anyone knew the whereabouts of the sign.  After couple years of investigation, Jimmy Aritakis located the sign. He called me and said, "I found it!!!!")  It was in the back yard of the fellow who had the foresight and talent to get the sign off the building before it was demolished.  The fellow didn’t wish to sell the whole double sided sign, but we agreed to cut it in half so that we could each have a wall mounted version.    

BP_Tom-John-Bonnie_web.jpg (319146 bytes)Back in 1999 in the process of researching the station’s history, I was able to contact John Gilmour, Jr. Bob Gilmour's son (who was born in the house next to the station.)   He and his wife, Bonnie, and his brother Tom  (pictured at right) were invited to a party we had at the shop back in 1999.  It was a party for a bunch of our gearhead friends and a good excuse for an unveiling of the sign. It was a privilege to see the Gilmours getting a such a big kick out of being reunited with the sign.  What was more surprising was how many party guests were anxious to talk to the John, Bonnie, and Tom about their dad Bob Gilmour and all the fond memories they people had of the filling station.  It was really quite amazing to see how many lives were touched by Bob's Place.

BP_Front_B-W_web.jpg (274681 bytes)The wonderful top-hatted bobcat sign is still with the family and is stored in Arizona. It was the only part of the station they salvaged.  The other significant piece of signage is the "A Bob Cat for Service" sign across the front of the station.  That piece is now in the hands of Corky Scholl (producer of the neat 9New feature) awaiting a good place to display it in a public museum setting dedicated to old Denver signage.    

Also in my collecting process I've been able to obtain quite a bit of small pieces of “Bob's Place” memorabilia.  Gas stations used to give away all kinds of stuff with their logo on it.  Lots of pens, gas mileage calculators, note pads, matches, coffee mugs, etc. are now also a part of the “Bob’s Place” memorabilia collection.  When was the last time a filling station gave you anything for just coming in?  Times have changed, huh?