Dave and Lynn Waller
It was 1934 when the W. M. Croft “Long Life Neon Tube” Company opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thirty five years and thousands of signs later, Wally Croft retired in the 1960s and passed the tipping torch to the Williams family, who renamed the business and grew it to 17 employees. The Williams brothers retired in 2019, planning to close, but the Wallerfamily, together with Friend Tony Dowers, bought the business in order to save Boston’s last Neon Sign shop. Since so many neon plants have closed, Neon Williams has been able to purchase vintage glass, tools and spare parts enough to last decades. As we’ve always done, we specialize in designing and making neon signs of all sizes, from a simple “open” sign to some of Boston’s spectaculars like the Citgo Sign, the Paramount Theater and the Schrafft’s Candy Sign.
When 9 year old Dave Waller found an old sign at the dump, he carried it home on his bike and ignited a lifelong passion for collecting vintage signs. After acquiring a pickup truck in the mid-1980s things began to get serious – so many neon signs were being torn down that almost every weekend found Dave together with his new wife Lynn Riddle rescuing signs across New England. They came from everywhere – from building faces that changed hands to back yards of sign shops to dumpster diving. They even found a sign in a river! As the collection grew, they realized that signs are actually a symbol of something more when we connect them to history, so Dave began gathering stories, photos and related materials for his signs in order to understand them in context. Before long, the Wallers began to exhibit them in museums, city parks and restaurants where the public could continue to enjoy the magical glow. Finding great old signs gets more difficult every year but they do pop up on occasion and when they do, Dave and Lynn gas up the truck and hit the road. neonwilliams.com
Photo: Doug Levy