News Column

The Akron Beacon Journal Bob Dyer column

June 2, 2014

By Bob Dyer, The Akron Beacon Journal

June 02--Bob Jones has the coolest basement in town.

He bills it as a private museum, but it's more like a man-cave on 'roids.

The place is packed with an incredible array of collectors' items, primarily mint-condition classic cars and trucks -- 75 of them, at last count -- as well as antique gas pumps, huge vintage signs and a bunch of other cool stuff that about half of us (read: males) would dearly love to display in our basement rec rooms.

Unless you've been invited to one of his annual open houses (last year's drew 900 people), you'd never know by driving past the place what treasures are lurking below street level. The museum is directly beneath Jones Group Interiors in an old commercial building on Broadway, just north of the Akron Expressway.

Through the years the Akron native has added so many vehicles that his collection now spills over into a building next door.

Late last week, he introduced a new exhibit: a huge sign mounted on the wall of the main stairway leading from the design offices down to the museum. It's a 12-foot-high, illuminated whopper consisting of two letters: BJ.

The letters don't represent Bob Jones' initials. Nor do they have anything to do with what you're probably smirking about right now.

Nay, these mighty red letters are part of the history of the Beacon Journal. Jones decided to mount and display them in honor of the newspaper's 175th anniversary.

Back in aught-five, to make way for the electronic clock/message board you see now, the Beacon pulled the plug on the distinctive, rotating clock tower that had protruded from the downtown landscape for nearly 40 years. It was a four-sided monster that displayed the time and temp on two of the sides and the BJ letters, vertically, on the other two.

The 2 { -ton tower was lowered to the street and given to renowned junkyard artist P.R. Miller, who used many of the parts in his creations. He donated the 45-watt floodlights that once formed the time and temp to the Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts, and gave the plastic letters to Jones.

When the Beacon's new clock tower was dedicated five months later, Jones joined the festivities, driving around with two of the letters in the bed of a 1919 Ford pickup.

Although he said at the time he eventually would mount them in his stairwell, he didn't develop sufficient motivation until he read about the newspaper's 175th birthday this year.

"The anniversary was a good excuse for me to do it," he said at last week's unveiling. "I thought the people in town might wonder what happened to them."

The letters were given a new masonry backing and new LED lights, which Jones flipped on as Beacon Journal photographer Phil Masturzo snapped away.

Although the plastic has some cracks, the letters are "in remarkably good condition for being out in the weather all those years," Jones noted.

He has no immediate plans for the other two letters, which are still stashed beneath the stairs.

He didn't seem too enthusiastic about a suggestion that he use them to mount his initials on the side of his house.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or He also is on Facebook at


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Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

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