Category: Ghost Ad

Mail Pouch Tobacco Ghost Ad – Ford City, Pennsylvania

Mail Pouch Tobacco Ghost Ad – Ford City, Pennsylvania

mail pouch tobacco mural - ford city, pennsylvania
Ford City, Pennsylvania

This restored Mail Pouch Tobacco wall ad in Ford City, Pennsylvania sure is a looker. Clearly a lot of love and care went in to making it vibrant once again. There is so much detail on the packaging – it’s just lovely.

It warms my heart to see projects that commit to caring for such local landmarks, particularly in times and places where money is tight. Without a doubt there are many people who might counter and say that money could be better spent elsewhere. And maybe they’re right. I don’t know. Quality of life does have some variables beyond the survival basics.

My point of view is colored by being a stranger to these communities. But I suspect that there are generations of people for whom this type of image will be weaved throughout their memories even if unwittingly. In my opinion, it is this type of visual energy that adds a pinch of spice to the unique flavor of a neighborhood. They become a touchstone.

The place in which I live is the land of homogenization. And while it is very “nice” and keeps property values high, there is a grave boringness attached to it. One of the key missing ingredients is largely nostalgia. Strip mall, mcmansion, chain store, strip mall, mcmansion, chain store; repeat ad nauseum. We live in the prettiest ugly neighborhoods. And I bought into this ideal wholeheartedly.

My road trips largely center around seeing Americana such as this Mail Pouch sign. What doesn’t get captured in any of the photographs that document my stops, is a sense of longing that I don’t quite understand, which draws me to such places. I find it challenging to articulate what this search is. It is a strange marriage of melancholy and joy.

Visit the Mail Pouch Tobacco Sign in Ford City, Pennsylvania

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Mail Pouch Tobacco: Bloch Brothers Tobacco Works – Wheeling, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco: Bloch Brothers Tobacco Works – Wheeling, West Virginia

On Thursday morning, I stood outside of the old Bloch Bothers Mail Pouch Tobacco factory in Wheeling, West Virginia waiting for the sun to rise. The Ohio River, silently snaked behind me while I snapped far too many photos of the ghost sign printing on the brick building.

A little to the left, a little to the right, maybe crouch down? Dammit, did I cut the corner off? The amount of jockeying around that I sometimes do is admittedly excessive. Especially for photos that by and large just live in the camera roll of my iPhone.

bloch brothers mail pouch tobacco factory wheeling west Virginia ghost sign

Sunrise in Wheeling is a full half hour later than where I live. It’s funny how something so seemingly inconsequential can throw you off. Standing out there in front of an idling semi truck in the dark it seemed like the sun was never going to come up. Was this how I would live the rest of my life – in the not quite dark, not quite bright predawn light? Irrational questions that made sense in the moment.

bloch brothers mail pouch tobacco factory wheeling west Virginia ghost sign

It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been to Wheeling proper and not just skirting by on the highway. In town there seemed to be considerable construction and deterioration since my last visit. The old suspension bridge was blocked off. There were many construction barrels around. Maybe things are on the way up and my next visit will be one marked by rejuvenation.

You never really know the true story of a place when you’re just passing through.

bloch brothers mail pouch tobacco factory wheeling west Virginia ghost sign

Visit the Old Mail Pouch Tobacco Factory

3900 Water St, Wheeling, WV 26003

More Reading

  • https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/wheeling-history/5508
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloch_Brothers_Tobacco_Company
  • https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/wheeling-history/bloch-brothers-75th-anniversary/2708

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Giant Chicken Army – Liberty, New York Edition

Giant Chicken Army – Liberty, New York Edition

Throughout the fall, winter and the cold parts of spring, I spent a lot more time driving than I did riding. Putting the heat vents on your feet, wearing gloves and a hat make driving with the top down on the convertible really lovely. Even down into the 40 degree temps.

Though it was dreary and rainy and the top remained decidedly up, one of my spring day trips in the car was around the Catskills where I’ve ridden many motorcycle miles. Sometimes the heart just wants to wander and so off you go.

We cruised up along the Delaware River, along Route 97 passing through Hawks Nest. Hooking a right on 55, we made our way through the town of Liberty where… what is this now?!

Well, well, well! If it isn’t a card carrying member of the Giant Chicken Army! Serendipity strikes again.

giant chicken army - fiberglass rooster - liberty new york

Do my eyes deceive me or do you too see the paint worn away in what can only be explained as people have clearly been sitting on this fine gentleman?

I myself did not attempt anything of the sort. With my luck I would’ve gotten unceremoniously wedged in the saddle and some bewildered passer by would have had to call the fire department to pry me loose.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

[distant hysteria on the line]

“What’s this now, ma’am? Ma’am, please. Ok. Ok, ma’am. Please, I can’t understand you if you keep laughing. Slow down. Pink hair…? Giant… chicken? Seven feet tall, you say?! Stuck? We’re dispatching the jaws of life.”

The corner of Main and Darbee hosts some lovely retrolicious sights. We’re treated to a “drugs” ghost sign, color-blocking and neon, a restored Gold Medal Flour mural, vintage signage and metal cladding hugging olde tyme display windows and decidedly fab swoopy handled doors.

gold medal flour mural - liberty new york

Liberty exudes the smoldering ember vibe that I love. Towns like this always have vintage treasures hiding in plain sight if you just slow down and take a look. Fading Americana.

krugs stationery neon sign liberty new rok
town & country neon sign liberty new york
Motorcycle Drive-by: Ghost Signs

Motorcycle Drive-by: Ghost Signs

When I am out exploring the world on my motorcycle, Ghost Signs are some of my favorite sights. Their nostalgic nod to a bygone era fills me with a sense of innocence and direct simplicity. They stir up feelings of missing a place and time that I never even knew.

Enjoy these blog posts about Ghost Signs


Hunting Ghosts: Uneeda Biscuit and Gold Medal Flour

On a July day in 2017, I spent the afternoon riding around Troy, New York looking for ghosts. What I discovered was that I needed a biscuit. And some… flour?

uneeda biscuit ghost sign and triumph bonneville in troy new york
Uneeda Biscuit …and a Bonnevlle in Troy, New York

2017 in Review: Photos of Great Ghost Signs Seen in My Travels

In 2017, I did a fair bit of bumming around on the bike. I found myself in places like West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Each state is home to some terrific ghost signs.

mail pouch tobacco ghost sign point pleasant west virginia
Mail Pouch Tobacco ghost ad in Point Pleasant, West Virginia – Home of the Mothman!

Roadside Snaps: Mail Pouch Tobacco Barns and Signs

A handful of Mail Pouch Tobacco and Block Brothers snaps seen in 2015.

Mail Pouch Tobacco Ghost Sign from Carnegie Pennsylvania
Block Brothers ghost ad uncovered in Carnegie, Pennsylvania

Motorcycle Drive-by: In Case You Missed It Series

Sometimes blog posts get buried with time. This post is part of a throwback series to introduce or reintroduce you to things you might have missed.

Thanks for reading!

Photo: Coca-Cola Ghost Sign – Richmond, Virginia

Photo: Coca-Cola Ghost Sign – Richmond, Virginia

While traveling through the city of Richmond, Virginia I saw this beautiful multi-layered Coca-Cola ghost sign.

Coca-Cola ghost sign on E. Main Street in Richmond, Virginia

The city of Richmond, Virginia is one of America’s oldest cities. It is the home to an incredibly large variety of modern street art. There are dozens of beautiful murals peppered around the city, thanks to the Richmond Mural Project.

And as an old city that has been densely populated and rich in industrial history, it is also ripe with advertising ghost signs of yesteryear. You will find them graces the facades of, in some cases, centuries-old buildings.

You could spend ages exploring and documenting what the city of Richmond has to offer.

Alas, in the early autumn of 2018, I was just riding through town on my way south. I didn’t have very much time to spend looking around. But, I did manage to snap a few photos like this one – a lovely Coca-Cola ghost sign paired with a modern portrait mural. Good old serendipity struck again. Lucky me.

There is something particularly sweet about stumbling across things that you love versus seeking them out. It’s like uncovering a treasure.

Coca-Cola Advertisements

Coca-Cola began using the slogan “Delicious and Refreshing” as part of their first advertisement in 1886. You can see that slogan featured here on this ghost.

Also visible are the phrases “Relieves Fatigue”,”5¢”, “Sold Everywhere” and “Drink Coca-Cola.”

The slogans in Coca-Cola ads can sometimes help to zero in on the age of the piece. For example, the word “Drink” being placed above the logo came into use in the mid-1920’s. In addition the Spencerian script of the logo can also be a clue to assessing age.

Visit this Coca-Cola Ghost Sign

Coca-Cola Ghost Ad Location:
2100 E Main St, Richmond, VA 23223
(on the side of Whisk Bakery)
Google Maps