.....The BiKeWriTeR

Sam Walton saves historic sign in Kansas

It has to be one of the most non-traditional accomplishments a community ever won vs. a big-box store.


In Topeka the Kansas State historical Society recognized Walmart Stores Inc. for the preservation of the Chief Drive-in sign. According to the plaque, the sign was a visually important part of Topeka’s heritage. Made in 1953 it is a reminder of the days when porcelain and neon signs were a common form of advertising images of Indians often used commercially in the 1950s.

The Chief Drive-in was established in 1952 and for the next 30 years provided outdoor automobile entertainment for the community. Originally the drive-in was open year-round. Propane heaters were provided in the winter when the Chief Drive-in was established.

The sign was at the southern edge of town on Topeka Boulevard. The sign helped maintain an image from the competition of its next-door neighbor, the Corral Drive-in.

The flashing neon sign attracted clientele to the theater from the boulevard in the 1950s movie theaters and motels commonly selected the image of an Indian Chief and headdress.

The porcelain metal and neon sign was designed by Hinkston Crawford, advertising company of Topeka. The chief sign was restored as part of the Walmart store construction project. The sign provides Walmart with a unique advertising marquee. February 1995.

Sweet Josephine…

I met Josephine in the entrance of the grocery in Warmegon, KS. “You’re outdoorsey like me,” she said. Josephine held out her arm to compare tans. “That’s the best way to travel,” she said pointing at my bike.

Josephine was 93. Still lived alone, could carry on an entertaining conversation and hated electronic conveniences.

“I don’t have TV and I don’t have a microwave,” she said proudly. “I do have this…” and that’s when Josephine dove down the neckline of her white t-shirt. She rummaged around in there for a bit and then fished out a small device on a string. “This is if i fall and can’t get up,” she said. “And this…” she pulled another device out of her pocket. “Is to locate me.”

Josephine was sweet … and competitive. “I could do what you do,” she said. “Thats cuz we’re both outdoorsey.” Then she leaned in for a hug.

Tidbits from the tour…

I picture God laying out the topography and Missouri is sitting in the front row and after Kansas got the flats, Missouri eagerly raised its hand and said, “We’ll take the hills. We’ll take the hills.” Like a child with a puppy…. not knowing how much work it really is.

Charting east out of Savannah, MO I hit CTH Z. The downhills aren’t bad as I drop at 30 miles an hour into the valley. I lose my radio signal on the way down. Then it’s a slog of 5 mph on the climb up and out. This is a ribbon of a highway… I can see five hills in the distance. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Mileage checkup…

A quick daily diary of mileage on this tour.

June 29 – landed Wichita – Airport and tooling around town to St. James Street. 17.59 miles… Favorite photos below..

June 30 – Wichita to Lundsborg – Bethany Lutheran Church -78.52 miles..

July 1 – Lundsborg to Abilene – Tourism Bureau – 53.11 miles.. So far Abilene has been my favorite with the 1905 Seelye Mansion to meeting the granddaughter of Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Abilene is home to the Eisenhower Presidential Museum.

July 2 – Abilene to Junction City – 28.55 miles.. 4H/Senior Center

July 3 – Junction City to St. Marys – 63.24 miles – Mother Nature was on my tail and I raced the rain. Safe night in St. Marys after being adopted by Mary and her family at Friar Tuck’s Pizza. She was 55, had 9 kids, and loved bicycling.

July 4 – St. Marys to Topeka – 39.12 miles – KOA Campground

July 5 – Topeka to Valley Falls – 38.14 miles – Adopted by Mark and Mary, a wonderful couple who lived and taught in Africa, Paris, and Kansas.

July 6 – Valley Falls, KS to Savannah, MO – 69.51 miles – Left Kansas in my rearview mirror and drifted into Missouri.. Diana and Ed ran Bob’s Lake just outside Savannah and managed to rescue a very tired biker and offer a nice place to shelter from the overnight storms.

July 7 – Savannah, MO to Bethany, MO – 68.61 miles. Hotel night because it was a long, hot day of hill climbs and I smelled like Jurassic Park.

Total after 9 days on the road Wichita, KS to Bethany, MO = 456.39 miles. The encouragement from home has been uplifting…

“Have I not commanded you? …  Be strong and courageous. … Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9


The 2024 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s is raises money every year for music programming for seniors at Cedar Community, a 501c3, so all donations are tax-deductible.

Donate via the secure website through Cedar Community.  Donations should be marked “Amazing Ride 2024.” Click HERE to make a secure online donation.

Checks may be made payable to “Cedar Community” with “Judy Bike Ride” in the memo line and mailed to 113 Cedar Ridge Dr., West Bend, WI 53095

Be sure to include the Federal Tax ID Number for the Foundation: 39-1249432

You may also find a downloadable donation form HERE.

1 comment

  1. Great “re-cap” on some of the lost icons of past years that have been saved. I wish more of them could have been salvaged, important history that is lost. Keep the stories coming (when you can).

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