Frank the Trainman mural Train of Wisdom.

A mural titled Train of Wisdom, painted in 1989 by local Chicano artist Mario Torero and students from O’Farrell High School of Performing Arts and Roosevelt Junior High School, decorates the back side of a building located on the northwest corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard.

Today very few people venture around the building to enjoy the faded 100-foot-long, 40-foot-high mural, which depicts a colorful train driven by young people. Optimistic symbolism fills the mural. On the south end of the building, astute passersby will see the historic, animated neon Frank the Trainman sign at the top of a flight of stairs, which form the mural’s triangular cowcatcher.

This was the original location of the Frank the Trainman model railroad store, which Frank Cox opened in the 1940s. He eventually retired and passed his business on to fellow model train buff Jim Cooley, who sold the property to Mission Federal Credit Union in 1987. To honor the history of Frank the Trainman, the architectural firm of Bradshaw and Bundy altered the building’s exterior into the outline of a locomotive, and the Train of Wisdom was subsequently painted.

(Jim moved the original train store to today’s location just down Park Boulevard and added to it his own unique collectibles museum, which includes some extremely rare antique automobiles. I blogged about that here.)

I walked behind the building yesterday and took the following photographs of the large, nearly 30 year old mural, to help preserve a little bit of San Diego history…

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Searching for dinner during National Pizza Week.

This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here...
This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here…

It’s National Pizza Week! Hooray! Sounds like an excellent reason to celebrate!

This evening I was hungry for a couple of slices.

But where to go?

I'm not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!
I’m not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!
Shall I eat at Tony's Pizza?
Shall I eat dinner at Tony’s Pizza?
Shall I eat at Samurai Pie?
Shall I eat dinner at Samurai Pie?
Shall I eat at Giovanni's Trattoria?
Shall I eat dinner at Giovanni’s Trattoria?
Shall I eat at Brooklyn Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at Brooklyn Pizzeria?
Shall I eat at City Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at City Pizzeria?
I found some yummy pizza! Time to eat!
I found some yummy pizza! After all that walking around downtown trying to figure out where to eat, I’m starving!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Colorful neon words brighten downtown San Diego.

Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.
Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.

Over time I’ve collected these photos.  They’re just of colorful neon words that brighten downtown San Diego. I spot all sorts of neon signs during my walks, sometimes in daylight, sometimes at night. Glowing advertisements in windows, on building walls and marquees add life and character to the streets of any city. San Diego is no exception.

Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.
Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.
Fun neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.
Patterned neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.
Bub's near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.
Bub’s near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.
Bright neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is well known to locals and tourists.
Neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is instantly recognized by both locals and tourists.
Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.
Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.
The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.
The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.
Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.
Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.
Off the Wall Tattoos has an in the window neon sign.
Off the Wall Tattoos has an “in the window” neon sign.
Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.
Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.
Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.
Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.
Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Lousisiana Fried Chicken, as you can plainly see!
Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Louisiana Fried Chicken, as you can see! (Admittedly, I eat too much of it.)
Lucky's Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.
Lucky’s Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.
Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.
Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.
Eye-catching neon sign informs all who pass by that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.
Eye-catching neon sign informs everyone that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.
An ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.
An awesome ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.  Okay, I suppose this doesn’t count as a word.
This one quickly got my attention! I hope I have room after the fried chicken!
These words instantly got my attention! I hope I have room after all that fried chicken!

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