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The "Bob's Place" Sign

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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 late ‘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)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 contacted John Gilmour, 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, if you will, 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 poeple 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.  A friend of the fellow who had taken down the “Bob’s Place” roof sign still has it. He got it for helping save the signage.  Sadly it is just rusting away in his back yard, unwilling to sell it to me..    

Also in this 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.