My Daddy Made This!
From left: Kelly Murphy, Skip Tucker, Mike Webb, Paul Perdue, Alan Smithey, and Tommie Wright are all smiles seconds after the last piece of plaster covering the Coca-Cola sign on the now vacant former Cherry Street Drug Store building fell to mother earth. The freshly revealed sign can now be seen on Cherry Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Murphy, Tucker, Webb and Perdue did the grunt work. Tommie Wright’s father, the late Arthur Wright, painted the sign. According to Tommie, the sign took four days of work and was completed October 25, 1947. We have found no one who can pinpoint the date when the sign was covered. Click here to see how the sign looked after the first day’s work.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas
This week, we take up where we left off last Sunday at 1109 South Cherry Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. By the end of the work day, at that location, on the afternoon of January 3, 2015, Paul Perdue and his crew of volunteers consisting of Kelly Murphy, Mike Webb, and Alan Smithey had chipped away most of the triple-ugly concrete plaster covering a 1947 model Coca-Cola sign on the side of the vacant former Cherry Street Drug Store building.
The day before, Perdue had noticed a bit of red protruding from a corner of the plaster. He scratched and clawed enough of the plaster with his hands to see that an old building sign was living underneath. He put out a call for volunteers on Facebook to join him in a Saturday session to help remove the plaster. Kelly, Mike, and Alan showed up, and the four removed probably 70 per cent of the cement. They vowed to return the next Saturday to complete the job.
How About A Coke?
Kelly Murphy adjusts his gloves as he prepares to scale the ladder to chip away at plaster on the top of the sign. Past the ladder, Alan Smith is chipping plaster at the lower part of the sign.
Good to their word, the four showed up the next Saturday and were joined by another volunteer, Skip Tucker. Later, Tommie Wright, son of the artist who created the sign, the late Arthur Wright, joined the group. The band of make-shift restorers went to work with no complaints despite 32° weather — and no telling what the wind chill factor was, but one thing for sure: It was substantially lower than 32.
The Sign of Good Taste.
From left: Paul Perdue and Mike Take a short break and survey the work as Alan Smithey chips away at the offending plaster.
Before noon, the crew had successfully removed all of the plaster covering the old sign. In functionally less than an eight-hour day of work, these worthy volunteers made this piece of historic art available for anyone who wants to venture that way to see and admire. Just goes to show you what can happen when some good ol’ boys make up their minds to do something worthwhile.
Coke Is It!
From left: Alan Smithey, Mike Webb’s hat, and Kelly Murphy take a break to give the camera a grin.
You Can't Beat The Feeling.
Tommie Wright, son of the late Arthur Wright, creator of the sign, points to his father’s signature, placed on the brick at his fingertip on October 25, 1947. Tommie said his father was born in 1918 and lost the sight of one eye during his childhood. As a result, he was given a 4-F draft designation in during World War II. The elder Wright did secure a job as a sign painter at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, a job which lasted until the conclusion of the war. With his sign-painting skills intact, he was quickly hired by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Pine Bluff and became their sign painter. Later he had the opportunity to go to work for a local department store as a show card writer and display artist. Click here and visit the page with close-up picture of the signed brick.
Kelly Murphy knocks an offending chop from the corner of the building.
Passport to Refreshment.
Paul Perdue (foreground) and Kelly Murphy are closing-in on the last remnants of the covering plaster.
Things Go Better With Coke.
Mike Webb attacks the last few square inches of plaster. A few minutes later the last piece of plaster fell. Kelly Murphy had the honor of knocking it loose.
After the last piece of plaster fell, the group enjoyed a short celebration and, like the good citizens they are, cleaned up their mess and departed the scene. What they’ve done gives people a glimpse of how things were in a different time, an always valuable observation. They did it because they believe in that value. Our congratulations to these unselfish volunteers.
See nine, count ‘em, nine more pictures
from the old drug store including three,
count ‘em, three from the inside
and you can have 100 guesses
what I found inside —
and the first 99 don’t count.
There’s another group shot and more working pix. See ‘em all
at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind. Click here and enjoy.