I remember the first time I visited Detroit. I flew in on some small commercial airplane and was headed downtown on I-94 and then I-75.
And there it was in all its glory: a huge Goodyear sign clicking off vehicle production numbers on the largest odometer in the world. I found out later that there were three of these signs scattered throughout Detroit.
It wasn't too long before an old friend, John Kelly, who was the head of advertising at Goodyear back then, called and asked for a favor. Goodyear was having trouble getting reliable numbers and wanted Automotive News to supply them. He was willing to pay a lot of money, but I told him we'd give him the information for the price of a subscription. Consequently, Automotive News supplied the numbers from then on.
About 15 years ago, business was so good in the car business that Goodyear had to get rid of the rolling-odometer signs and replace them with electronic signs. Somewhere along the way, they lost one of the signs, but continued to operate signs by the airport and at I-94 and I-75.
But now they're gone. Torn down. And not even an obituary in the newspaper. Nothing.
They were as much a part of the Motor City as Hudson's department store.
It's amazing that anything could last that long in the marketplace. Those signs must have been up there for decades. So now it's on to something new for Goodyear. I just hope that they don't kill the blimps. They tried once, but some smart guys persuaded the powers that be to save them.
No such luck for the Motor City. The signs were a great piece of Detroit folklore, and now they're just a bunch of trash somewhere. Too bad.
I don't know if it's a sign of getting old, but those monuments to our history are going to be missed by me. Maybe they'd outlived their usefulness, but I guess I still feel a nostalgic twinge when I see that they're gone.
I guess you can't have a funeral for a sign. And sure, Goodyear's going to continue to market their tires in Detroit. But it would have been nice to take a last picture and say a few kind words.
They were a part of Detroit and Goodyear. And I'm going to miss them.
Mr. Crain is publisher of Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business, and chairman of Crain Communications Inc.