Despite the triple-digit temperatures, the western end of Route 66 seems a bit cooler today thanks to a newly-restored piece of roadside signage; the vintage 1967 Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery windmill (since 1989 a Denny’s) on Huntington Boulevard, Arcadia.
And we were there for the festivities, as former mayor George Fasching shared his seemingly quixotic quest to convince Denny’s corporate HQ to finance a restoration. Although others in town were pessimistic, George’s spunky note to CEO John Miller made a strong case, and once the city relaxed the sign ordinance to permit motion, a check for $100,000 soon followed. In just a few months, the windmill had a new motor and reinforced blades illuminated with white LEDs.
Also in attendance was architect Harold Bissner Jr., who with Harold B. Zook designed the circular Arcadia landmark, the first (and last surviving) of fifteen Van de Kamp’s restaurants. (Bissner is also the visionary behind Volcano House, Huell Howser’s old hang out.)
As the blades started spinning, a couple of ladies of indeterminate age squinted up at them from the sidewalk across the street. “It used to spin clockwise,” said one. “And the lights were blue and white, Van de Kamp’s colors.” “Woo! Windmill!” yelled a young, smiling man covered in tattoos. And Harold Bissner looked upon his own work and he smiled, too.
John Miller says the windmill will spin 24/7, sending a message of welcome to all who pass. Next time you’re out Santa Anita way, swing by and see for yourself.