Cheeky Roadside Memorabilia (With A Coulrophobia Warning)

Retro advertising signs and characters

I’m sharing these pictures, taken in the backyard at Austin’s Roadhouse Relics, for the weekly photo challenge, cheeky. I recommend you take a look at the other submissions, if only to see Michelle’s cheeky parrot, shared for our inspiration.

The figures along the roof are the cheeky bit in this picture, although the picture is doubling as a delaying tactic as I know there are increasing amounts of people with a fear of clowns.

I assume quite a few of these are not familiar with the term coulrophobia, which makes me wonder why we give such strange terms to fears. Believe me, if you have a phobia, you want a good clear warning. Obfustication is the last thing you need with danger approaching (that word must have more than a hint of irony in it, surely?).

But, to back to my ~~~warning~~~ if you share this fear, please look no further. 

Those who are OK with clowns may be able to help me out with a question about the cheeky chappie below: what is he? I can see he is on an antique petrol pump (or gas pump, in American English) but is he purely decorative, or did he have a function? Surely there would be no purpose in having a balloon blower-upper on a petrol/gas pump? That’s what he looks like to me.

Having given ample warning – here he is:

Retro gas pump

…making a wonderful contrast to the neon mask lurking in the shadows (there are no people still with me who are scared of masks, I hope?).

Roadside memorabilia: the head of a clown

It’s easily said if you don’t have a phobia of something, but he doesn’t seem in the least bit scary to me. I almost feel ashamed to look into his smiling eyes after leaving so many warnings.

Both of the clown pictures have a retro-style transfer filter added.

29 Replies to “Cheeky Roadside Memorabilia (With A Coulrophobia Warning)”

  1. I don’t particularly like clowns, but I don’t have a phobia and he does seem to be quite a cheeky chappy. To be honest that lurking mask is more scary! And I do hope someone comes along who can tell you what he was used for.

    1. Just providing he doesn’t turn into a six second gif and start telling us himself, over and over. Now that would give me the heebie-jeebies.

  2. I would guess at some point in its life the clown was near or on the ground and attached to an air compressor for inflating tires. Not quite sure how it would work, but as you say, why would he be inflating balloons in a gas station? I’m not phobic about clowns but he is a bit scary.

  3. I think the two are separate – the pump and the clown just happened to be jumbled together. There was a time (in America at least) that gas stations vied for customers by giving away Green Stamps, dishes, balloons for kids, etc. That said, I still think the clown was a carnival prop for inflating balloons. So that’s my two cents! 😉

    1. Laurie agrees with you. It seems to be fixed on, but the fixing does seem newer than the rest of the pump, so perhaps this is an artist’s compilation of sorts.

    1. He must have been fun for all the family! I feel sorry for real life clowns today whose businesses have been affected by people dressing up and trying to scare people.

  4. Coulrophobia! Even spellcheck never heard of it! Of course I had to look it up. An interesting word. And I will add to the comments above that, in all my years, I’ve never encountered a clown who didn’t give me the creeps. Perhaps not a phobia, but neither a great fondness for. Ditto masks. As Snoopy would say, we all have our hang-ups. An intriguing post nonetheless. I love the word “cheeky.” So, between “cheeky” and “coulrophobia,” I have begun my day in fine literary style. Thank you!

    1. Coulrophobia doesn’t feel intuitive. I am sure we could come up with something better.

      Anything jumping out of a bush going ‘Ooh!’ (as in the recent scary clown craze) has a very good chance of startling me.

      1. Anything jumping out of a bush, with or without the OOH, would undo me. I prefer my bushes unpopulated. And absolutely we could do better than “coulrophobia”!

    1. You’ve reminded me of a friend whose teacher taught them to pull out pencils and expunge sections of their text books on command. As they started each new section, he would draw their attention to the bits he disapproved of, then cry out ‘Expunge!, Expunge!’.

  5. I am in the category of thinking that clowns are creepy, but I don’t have a full-blown phobia of them. Sorry to say that this clown is definitely creepy. 😉. I think Eliza’s theory is an interesting one.

      1. What is it about clowns? For many of us, they are not jolly creatures. When I was young, there was a Bozo show, and I hated it. 😉

        1. I don’t think we had that one. I was scared of the witch in Paulus the Woodgnome, and I have always hated The Singing Ringing Tree which used to come on tv around now.

    1. You’d enjoy this place then. If you’ve never been, it’s in the backyard of Todd Sanders, a neon artist’s studio (he calls it a vintage sign boneyard).

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