Thursday, June 2, 2016

Signs Of The Time

Signs how lost we would be without them. I mean that literally, we would be lost. There are signs that let us know the highway we are traveling on. Signs the tell us how fast or slow to drive. Signs that let us know where we can find something to eat. You know what I mean, signs are everywhere. I really don't like modern signs, but I am well aware that we can't get by without them. We'd be in danger of losing our lives without traffic signs, we'd be lost without street signs, and we'd be starving because we wouldn't know which establishment serves food. So, we live with those signs.

As I said, I don't really like modern signs, but I do love unique ones and, of course, vintage ones. That makes me smile, thinking how I like old signs. I wonder in a hundred years or so if someone will find one of our "old" signs and think "how cool is that!" Will our signs even survive the years? Those digital ones, probably not!

The best place to find fascinating signs is traveling through small towns. You can see signs that were hand painted many years ago. I love the font used on the Clickity Clack Toy & Gift Shoppe. I would have certainly entered it's doors in search of the perfect gift!  

If your lucky you might run across an old neon sign. This shoe store was built in 1922. Neon signs were extremely popular in the U.S. from 1920 - 1960.

You can still find old advertising signs that hang from buildings and were lit at night. I especially like the ones with the Coco-Cola advertisements. 

Above you saw the corner sign. Below you can see the sign painted above the front door. I smiled at the wording on the sign. At the Fountain Hill Grocery you can find "goods in endless variety for man or beast."

When I passed this old store it wasn't the corner sign or the sign above the door that made me slam on my brakes (after quickly looking in my rear view mirror) and had me making a fast left turn (after quickly looking ahead for oncoming traffic). It was the ghost signs on the side and back of this Fountain Hill grocery store. My heart does skip a few beats when I see ghost signs. They are quickly disappearing from our landscapes.

My favorite signs in the whole wide world are ghost signs; advertising signs that were painted on walls of buildings. I mentioned liking Coco-Cola signs, but finding a Coco-Cola ghost sign was the highlight of my day. I'll throw in a little tidbit of Coke information here. The first wall sign painted for Coca-Cola was done by a salesman in Carterville, Georgia, in 1894. The early ones said "Drink Coca-Cola." 

It amazes me that some of these signs are still in such good condition. I've read that part of the reason the paint hasn't faded more is that lead-based paints were used. I am in awe of all the skilled craftsmen that painted these signs. They were know as "wall dogs." They traveled the country painting advertising signs on walls.

Sometimes a sign has been repainted attempting to match the color and charm of the original, but that's just not too successful to me.  Someday all the ghost signs will be faded away or the buildings demolished and they'll be completely gone. So if you see one, you might want to stop and take a picture.

Every time I spend a day traveling Arkansas it's a treasure hunt. What will I find today?

historic buildings
beautiful windows
unusual doors
vintage signs

I never know, but I have never been disappointed!


  1. I love how you take the ordinary and make it wonderful like old signs. We sometimes or I sometimes take things like this for granted and really not look at the whole picture. While I have gotten better at not doing this because of photography I think I sometimes slip into not seeing. Oh and I loved Grapette when I was a kid, now I want one.

  2. I loved all the signs. You are always looking for the unusual and you always find them.

  3. Cathy, I didn't know the expression 'ghost signs', so I had to look it up and saw that these signs are also called fading ads or brick-ads which makes is easier for me to understand! They speak to us of another era. My favourite sign from your choice above is definitely the first oval-shaped Fountain Hill Grocery. I love the horse-drawn plough with the farmer hanging on for dear life. The phrase: "Goods in endless variety for Man or Beast" is wonderful!

  4. This was a fun post, Cathy. I love fading old signs on walls, too. Sometimes it's a challenge to figure out what they were advertising. I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the 50's and 60's. I think it must have been the neon capital of the world!

  5. A great post. I too love those ghost signs and am amazed how some of them last for so many decades after being 'abandoned'.

  6. These are some very cool signs. I like the first one, and signs like that, special, unique, that have a decorative flare!!

  7. You and I would be the perfect pair to travel together. I would have loved that old grocery store, love that it is still standing.

  8. I'm fascinated by signs too -- the older, the better. You are so right about small towns having the best old signs. I've been collecting images of signs for years. Your faded "ghost signs" are the best!


Thanks so much for stopping by!!