The distinctive, revolving, retro orange ball, high above Jakel's Union 76 service station at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Via de La Paz in Pacific Palisades, California-- the last town before Sunset hits the Pacific Ocean-- has been taken down and replaced with a waist-level sign on the corner.
The ball, advertising "76," was removed and its pole sawed down at noon yesterday, according to a service station employee who witnessed the surprise takedown.
A local journo noticed last night that the sky was empty where the spherical sign once shined as a beacon above the station and the adjacent Gelson's parking lot.
This morning, we spoke to attendant Zig, who was working yesterday when the Conoco Phillips troops arrived and got to work quickly and efficiently, removing the ball with a crane and cutting in half the pole it had topped.
"Now no one will even know it was there," Zig said. "That ball was an original, it was up there since the station opened in what, 1955? I asked the guys what they were going to do with it and they said they were going to smash it! Smash it! I thought they'd put it in a museum."
Zig realized he was witnessing history. He said he called the local Palisadian-Post weekly newspaper but got no answer (it was a Saturday).
Note to the Palisadian-Post and LA Times: He also snapped several photos of the ball removal with the disposable camera he keeps in his car. Make sure you pay him for his work!
The ConocoPhillips oil company has been on a campaign to remove all its stations' classic orange balls, despite a fight from preservationists.