Troy Hibbs oversees his shop, TDH Experiential Fabricators, where his brother Andrew is a neon bender: an abstract vocation by today’s standards, but not so uncommon in the 1950s. For a decade, Vancouver saw 19,000 signs cast their glow across the city, the wet downtown streets reflecting colourful fluorescent lights. Some thought the effect diminished Vancouver’s natural beauty, which prompted an anti-neon crusade in the late 1960s. In the years to come, signs were systematically dismantled and storefronts were darkened.
Among those lost was the Sai Woo rooster, with its broad chest and open wings, that greeted patrons outside the popular Chinatown restaurant. The chop suey house is mentioned in the infamous murder trial of the Hughes Gang as the place where the four boys went to drink a bottle of rum after killing Yoshi Uno in 1942.