Cleaning up

Photo of Queen Cleaners

Queen Cleansers is a landmark on Moody Street.

Photo of neon sign on Bigelow Cleaners

You can’t miss Bigelow Cleaners in Newton Centre.

Okay, so maybe it’s an odd topic after a hiatus of more than a year, but I’ve been thinking about dry cleaning lately. Not in the how-can-i-get-this-stain out-of-my job-interview-outfit kind of way but in a wow-look-at-these-fabulous-signs way.

You may not have noticed, but there are some great signs attached to dry cleaners in the Boston metro area. Look at Bigelow Cleaners, which anchors one edge of Newton Centre. Or Queen Cleansers, a fixture on Moody Street in Waltham. Or even the Lewandos sign in Needham, which is not neon but a charming example of atomic (some call it Googie) mid-century design.

Lewandos sign

The Lewandos sign evokes the Jetsons style.

And they’re in great shape. Bigelow casts a pink glow over Newton Centre at night (in cursive script, no less!), and the Queen sign was recently refurbished. And while Lewandos is missing a few knobs from its starburst, the paint job has clearly been touched up over the years.

Now, I get it. These are not the kind of signs that evoke nostalgia in most people. I don’t know too many people who will buy a photo of a dry cleaning establishment because it brings back sentimental memories. Pictures of restaurants, sure.  Bars, yes.  Theaters, absolutely.  But dry cleaners?  Not  exactly the stuff of dreams.  (Except maybe for the time that Jennifer Lopez played a dry cleaner turned ballroom dancer in Shall We Dance, but how often does that happen?)

But while these signs may score low on the sentimentality scale, they have style and they continue to enrich the streetscape in lively commercial districts.  So let me say it again.  Wow.  Look at these fabulous signs.

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