Standing their ground

... the survival of two local landmarks

by Debbi Collar

Still standing - HIlltop's famous cactus sign
The orange dinosaur watches over Route 1 as construction continues behind it.

Recent changes on Southbound side of Route 1 have made quite an impression on commuters. Watching the traffic, keeping your eyes on the road these days tends to take away some of the sights seen on a daily commute to and from work. Yet traffic jams, at times, allow for a little extra sightseeing, as to what extra items might be alongside the road. This past year, local residents and travelers from many areas made their pleas for two local landmarks to stay on the roadway despite those businesses, a well known Saugus restaurant and a miniature golf course selling their properties.

Current demolition of Hilltop, in operation for 50 years, has left a big hole in the hot top on the highways southbound side. Diners who have been there, will remember Sioux, Kansas, Virginia and Dodge City, the wooden Indian/Native American that greeted customers as they sat on nearby benches, waiting for their black or red felt tip marker number, written on a square white cardboard, to be called. Placemats depicted the cuts of meat that would be served. Plastic cows that graced the grass and were corralled in behind the wooden fence posts, away from the rush of traffic, would usually be decorated for various holidays with hats or scarves. Those bovines have now roamed to other locations throughout New England. Inside the restaurant, windows allowed customers to view the various cuts of meat. Behind the restaurant, a grocery store and a strip of offices gave the impression of a wild west motif. Today, only the cactus remains, looming 60 feet over the highway, still keeping watch over travelers.

Further down the road, closer to Boston, the town of Saugus also boasts a 20 foot orange dinosaur. It nearly faced extinction this year as a new housing development is under construction, taking over the town's miniature golf course, owned by the Fay family for over 5 decades.

This is a time when one can say, although the businesses have seen their last customers, the two Saugus icons, the Hilltop Sign and toothy orange dinosaur have survived extinction.

November 4, 2016

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