WHEN IT WORKED, the Roto-Sphere above the El Comedor de Anayas restaurant, in Moriarty, lured hungry motorists off I-40 and onto Old Route 66. Neon lights lined its 16 colorful spikes. The ball they were mounted to spun in three directions at once, producing a dazzling light show. Installed in the 1960s, it welcomed everyone from politicians to passing-through country music stars. Their autographed portraits still bedeck two walls in what’s now Country Friends Antiques. There was a time in America when you could follow a trail of Roto-Spheres from their birthplace in Bossier City, Louisiana. But their inventor hand-tooled parts of the machinery, which complicated repairs. Michaela Anaya Allen, one of the building’s owners, said a renovation several years ago used a Model T engine to restore the sign’s action, but heavy winds soon fried that fix. Even if it no longer imitates a disco ball, the Roto-Sphere still accomplishes its original mission. “Everybody notices it,” says Cindy Arnett, owner of Country Friends Antiques. “More people stop and take pictures of that than anything in Moriarty.”
Read more: Mike Pogue, who owns and runs Sunset Motel with his wife, Debbie, keeps Route 66 alive with vintage vibes and personal service.