Sign of old times up for bids

August 31, 2005|by KAREN HANNA


Red's Twin Kiss was the kind of place people could buy practically everything. Shoppers looked for playing cards and Christmas trees, and people on the way to work grabbed antacid tablets and cups of coffee for breakfast.

Decades after it went out of business, one last oddity from the north Hagerstown ice cream shop is for sale - the sign.

The sign, which outlasted Red's restaurant and several businesses that followed on the site at Pennsylvania Avenue, will be sold to the highest bidder in an eBay auction opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, Greencastle Online Auctions owner Kim Hines said.


Now featuring the logo of a contented pink pig, the square sign frame, which measures about 5 feet by 8 feet, most recently welcomed diners to Kerch's Southern BBQ.

Former Kerch's owner James F. Kercheval said he closed the restaurant in October after deciding he would like to start over in a new building.

"I get more grief about the Kerch's not being open yet than I do from the county side," said Kercheval, a Washington County Commissioner.

According to Hines and Kercheval, proceeds from the sign's sale will benefit Community Free Clinic. The property where the sign once stood is under development by Dahbura Family Limited Partnership, which plans to build a medical facility, Kercheval said.

"I think it will strike someone's fancy somewhere," said Tony Dahbura, vice president of the Dahbura company. He initially suggesting auctioning the item for charity after realizing it had become something of a community "landmark."

Hines, whose company is sponsoring the eBay sale, said the bidder who ultimately buys the sign and pole - it's about 14 or 15 feet tall - must find a way to get the item home.

In the six months since Greencastle Online Auctions opened, Hines said she has helped people sell a broad spectrum of items, from a full-size arcade to NASCAR memorabilia. Hines said she can't estimate how much money an item will bring.

"I mean, you can get like $50 for a pair of old underwear with the tags on," Hines said.

For some people, the turquoise and pink sign likely will bring back memories, Kercheval and Hines said.

"Just the color scheme alone, I think brings out a 50s kind of nostalgia," Hines said.

According to Scott Hoffman, Robert "Red" Hoffman's son, the sign first went up about 1964 or 1965. By then, Red's Twin Kiss already was on its way to being a happening place.

"It was the place to be, like in the '60s and '70s," Hoffman said of the restaurant, which his father opened in 1957. For employees, the restaurant "was more fun than work," Hoffman said. Root beer and steak subs were customer favorites, Hoffman said.

"I think we had probably 200-some sandwiches on the menu. It was amazing," Hoffman said.

"Red" Hoffman was as much an attraction as the food, his son and Kercheval said.

"'Red' was one of a kind," Kercheval said. "He used to sell just about anything. I think he was selling playing cards out of there. It was just this little side place, and he would sell Christmas trees in the winter."

According to Hoffman, the restaurant closed in 1979. Kerch's opened in August 1990, and Kercheval kept the sign because it was planted so close to the road, he said. Kercheval said he isn't sure what a bidder who buys the old sign would do with it.

Bidders will need a pickup truck or trailer to take it home, Hines said.

"As far as whether or not they'd want to stick it up in their backyard, I don't know. It's pretty significant," Kercheval said.

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