Ivory Soap Cubanola Cigar Double Ghost Sign – Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania
Traveling through central Pennsylvania towns, I felt a sense of anemoia wash over me. Anemoia, a term coined by John Koenig in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, is defined as “a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced.” And that’s exactly how I felt standing in the gray mist looking at a weathered Ivory Soap ghost sign doubled with the long defunct Cubanola Cigars on the side of this building in Mount Carmel.
The ghost sign, a faded and peeling advertisement for the now-iconic soap brand, was a thread to be pulled from a bygone era. Though Ivory is a remembrance from my own childhood in the 70’s and 80’s, it’s history reaches much further back. Back to a time when life was simpler, when the world moved at a slower pace, the universe didn’t exist in the palm of your hand, and people could appreciate their lives with a different scope and scale than we tend to these days.
Standing there, gazing up at the layered one-two punch of the Cubanola Cigars and Ivory Soap ghost sign, I felt a sense of longing for a time and this place that I never knew. I imagined the people who had lived there going about their daily lives. Men wearing hats unironically, ladies in full skirts and wearing gloves walking past this sign every day. I wondered what their lives were really like. How could I possibly feel a sense of “missing” something I never knew? And yet…
But despite the strange phenomenon of anemoia there was also a sense of beauty and nostalgia. It was a reminder that, even as time marches on and things change, there are still pieces of the past that linger on, waiting to be appreciated in the lives we are living today.
I continue to feel grateful for these types of unexpected encounters with slices of history. They offer a gentle reminder to slow down, to breathe in the beauty of the world around us.