Friday, October 25, 2013

Finally Found It!

Watching the news one night I heard that a decades old sign painted on the side of a building had been uncovered in downtown Little Rock. It took me two trips downtown to find it, but I finally did. I knew it was on 7th street, but I had the wrong intersection. Ironically, I drove up the street looking for the sign, but turned around one block to early. The second trip, armed with the right address, city map, and accompanied by my sister, mom, and dad, we went right to it!  The sign is on the side of the old Dr Pepper bottling plant which operated back in the 20's and 30's. In the 1940's another building was attached to it enclosing the sign between the two walls. During the demolition of the added building the sign was uncovered. The sign has been preserved by the other building for years and reveals the  original color and details.
(Dr. Pepper sign located at 7th and Cross, Little Rock, AR)

The sign reads: "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2 and 4 o'clock
Dr. Pepper in bottles Good for Life"

Ghost signs, as they are known, were the way products were advertised between the 1870's and the 1950's. The estimated date of this sign is in the 40's according to the soft drink's icons and slogans.  The tail sweeping back from the final "r" in the product's name  came along after 1923 and the period in "Dr." was dropped in the 1950's. During the World War II era the soda was advertised as a good between-meal snack, using the expressions such as the "liquid bite" or "drink a bite to eat."
The painters of ghost signs were called "wall dogs." Some say the name came from how hard they worked. Wall dogs were frequently expected to put up a sign a day and they spent many hours high on a building without the benefit of modern scaffolding or safety gear. Experts are pretty certain that this sign was painted by Robert Adair. He did all the Dr Pepper outdoor advertising signs in the1940's and 1950's and also a lot of the Coca-Cola ones in Little Rock. Adair began painted signs in 1923 when he was 12. Members of his family still live and work in Little Rock. I can imagine their excitement in the discovery of this sign.

It's sad, the painted sign will probably fade away since it is now exposed to the sun. There are new products available that structurally stabilize both the components of the paint and the masonry, but I don't see that happening here. Maybe the family will try to find a way to preserve it.
Linking with Kim Klassen's Friday Finds.
Kim Klassen dot Com


  1. What an absolutely fantastic find! And to photograph it before the elements take their toll is a wonderful way to preserve the history. I really enjoyed reading about the wall dogs and the history behind building painting.
    Visiting from Friday Finds.

  2. This is a very interesting post. Lots of facts here that I didn't know!

  3. What a great find - old paint and old bricks.

  4. What a fun and historical discovery! Dr Pepper has always been my soft drink of choice - even though I gave it up for water. I applaud your tenacity in tracking it down.

  5. Oh good old Dr. Pepper, loved that stuff. No other cola drink tasted the same as this drink. I also love old signs like this and so glad it was found, interesting story behind this. I hope it will be preserved.

  6. i love old signs like this. there's one up here in rogers that advertises coca-cola. what a find, and good for you for going back!

  7. This is REALLY a Friday Find. Awesome find, love old signs and also love Dr. Pepper. When I was a kid in the 50's and 60's in the winter my mother would heat it in a pot on the stove and I would have hot Dr. Pepper. Sounds gross to most people but I liked it. At least if the sign doesn't get preserved it will be preserved by photography now.

  8. What a marvelous find. Glad you got some photos now while the colors are still vibrant.

  9. It looks like you hit the jack pot....great find...

  10. Absolutely Fabulous sign and I'm so glad you finally got the picture of it. I do hope they are able to preserve it. We have a few of the "Ghost" type signs here in Walla Walla. I featured one sometime back and then there is one above an old movie theater that is still left. I love them both. - I enjoyed reading all about this amazing find.


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