Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, November 28, 2004, pg. 8

Albion is losing another one of its downtown landmarks--the time and temperature sign over Citizen’s Bank. Over four decades old, this mechanical device somehow survived into the computer age, informing our citizens day and night of the current temperature and time we could set out watches by. Many decisions have been made over the years under the guidance of that sign. It now has been deemed outmoded and was recently covered over when a new bank sign was installed. Apparently only five Citizens banks in the entire chain had time/temperature signs, and most were in failing condition. An executive decision was made to discontinue them chain-wide.

Our local sign is now being offered by the Bank to anyone who wants it, according to Lori Newsom, local bank official. How will we ever know what the “public temperature” is in Albion anymore with that sign gone? It was like an old friend that everyone depended on when they passed by, and greatly miss now that it is gone.

This alternating blinking sign was something that helped give the downtown district “character” amidst the backdrop of numerous brick buildings along S. Superior St. Some years ago the international “Celcius” temperature was added to the light sequence. You looked at it and felt “cold” with its lower numbers. Few paid attention to that “foreign” scale however, and wished the sign would “hurry up” and give the real American temperature we were all waiting for to come on.

It is thoughtful that the Bank is offering to give away the sign. Perhaps someone will take them up on their offer. The sign however would be subject to current City sign regulations and hence a costly variance hearing if someone wanted to put it back up, because it would no longer be “grandfathered” in a new location. It’s not the first time Albion has lost a landmark time-keeping device. There used to be an antique clock that stood on the sidewalk in front of Tuchtenhagen’s (later Gordon Pahl) Jewelers that was hit by a semi-truck and was never replaced. It too would have been subject to updated state and local regulations prohibiting it.

City Bank & Trust Company Time-Temperature Sign, Early 1960s

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a nighttime photo of the classic City Bank & Trust Company time-temperature sign from the early 1960s, in all its glory. Notice the “tail fin” design, typical of the era when cars, too had tail fins. The top of the bank was lit up with lights during the evening. Notice the bronze plaque on the front of the bank which was always brightly polished along with other details by the bank maintenance person.

The Buick Garage sign led the way to the Market Place and to the Maple City Auto Company. The parked automobile bears a 1962 license plate, easily identifiable by the small metal tag containing the year that was placed in the upper right corner. Notice the Santa Claus house parked in front. Even Santa has to get money from the bank to pay his elves. You can also spot a “Fifteen Minute Parking” sign which once stood where the Handicap spot is today. That stretch of space could probably use one of those signs even today, don’t you think?

Next door of course we see Hunter’s Party Store, present site of the Albion Volunteer Service Center and the Albion Community Foundation. It’s overhead sign offered quite a combination: Sealtest Ice Cream and packaged liquor. The familiar Bohm Theatre in the distance was showing a movie that featured actress Tina Louise in her pre-Gilligan Island days. Notice that all of the lights were working on the marquee, too!


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