A Gem 'Neath the Plaster
After a few hours of hands-on work by volunteers, the Coca-Cola sign on the side of an old building in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, is seeing the light of day for the first time in more decades that anyone can figure. Local volunteers led by Paul Perdue chipped away the triple ugly layer of cement plaster over the old sign. As you can see, there is some sign left. As I understand it, next weekend the crew will gather to finish the job. Kudos to the crew.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas
Day before yesterday, Paul Perdue, a native of Pine Bluff now residing in Dallas, and an unapologetic history buff, decided the time was nigh to uncover an old Coca-Cola wall sign at 10-hundred something-or-other South Cherry Street on the long vacant Cherry Street Drugs Building in his home town.
Uncover is a kind word for hand-chipping cement plaster that some misguided soul had smeared over the sign years and years ago. I’m not sure how Paul knew the sign was under the ugly slather, but he did — and had an itch to uncover it that needed some serious scratching.
Before the Chip-Away
This is how the wall looked before the work started. Apologies for the low quality of the image, but it was all that was available.
Paul did the first few square feet of removal and posted his progress on Facebook® with an invitation to join him the next day. Three volunteers showed up and they went to work. By the time the dust had settled on Saturday, the biggest part of the sign was uncovered and recognizable. The volunteers say they will return to finish the job on the next weekend.
The Mystery — Partly Unveiled
Here’s the sign, up close and personal. After the intrepid crew finishes their uncovering project, the mystery of what the sign says under the plaster will, well, no longer be a mystery.
While they were doing their work, they discovered the signature of the sign artist who painted the sign along with the date of completion. “Art” finished the sign on October 24, 1947.
A Signature Piece
Here’s where “Art” signed his art. With any kind of luck, someone may come forward and tell us about Art.
1947 was prime time for wall signs. For the most part, newspaper, radio, and billboards were the only media immediately available to local advertisers, so a blank wall in a high traffic location was very desirable. Coca-Cola and its competing bottlers were frequent users of wall signs. Many of the larger bottlers had their own sign painters and sign shops. Some of the sign painters were really good artists with a flair for rendering realistic art on the cobby surface of a brick wall. The colorful signs were standout attention getters with some occasional built-in humor.
Here are some Facebook links documenting the progress and participants of the job:
We salute Paul and the other volunteers who are making this historic art available for public consumption again.
See this yellow house at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
along with another view
of the old drug store sign.
Click, go and look.
It is low-cal, low-fat, zero cholesterol, all natural and G-rated
so you can show it to your Momma.