In the fall of October 2018, I rode through the city of Richmond, Virginia on a Sunday morning. City riding isn’t so great, generally. But being on a motorcycle gives you the opportunity to pull over, squeeze into tight spots for a few minutes and to park and snap pictures in a way that you couldn’t possibly do in a car. Being on a low, slim bike like the Bonneville makes that even easier.
I was in town spotting ghosts. An old city like Richmond, has plenty.
This Pepsi-Cola ad is just hanging on for dear life. Topped off with “Watkins Barber Shop” the bottle cap is but a whisper. A quick search around the web and you can find images of this wall that were much more vibrant. Hang in there, lovely. We still see you.
Without any knowledge of the company’s history, I have no idea if they ever engaged in widespread campaigns like Coca-Cola. In my travels, I haven’t had the opportunity to see many Pepsi ghost signs. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other. It was in Galena, Kansas:
I’m pretty sure I became aware of this ghost sign in York, Pennsylvania from reading Wendyvee’s great blog, Roadside Wonders. It’s been pinned on my Google Map for years.
When I pulled up to take pictures, a man across the street stood and watched me with a big smile on. I wonder if people who live with such things day in, day out, even notice them anymore. Or, do they become a source of neighborhood pride? Probably both.
This spring after spending the night in a caboose, I decided to take the long way home and to stop and see a few stars on my Google Maps app. One of the things I was most looking forward to is this Cerasota Flour mural.
Sadly, my car looks way lame posed with roadside stops when compared to my motorcycle. I need to rectify that.
Last weekend we had an itty-bitty taste of spring. Temperatures crept into the 60’s and so I decided to hop on the Bonnie and visit a few of the pins on my Google Maps app.
If I don’t look at the Streetview of a pinned item, sometimes I’m not sure what will be waiting for me when I turn up at the coordinates. At some point, I’d saved a cluster of stops in Middletown, New York. Based on my general familiarity with the area and their proximity to each other, I assumed they were ghost signs – and I was right.
This multi-layered ghost was hard to read in person. Sometimes tweaking a photo’s colors can help you read parts of the signs you can’t see with the naked eye. But other times the fade or overlapping is just too vague.
When I go looking for ghosts, it isn’t uncommon for me to find myself in the parts of town that are economically challenged, their heyday long since passing them by. I’ll wind up in front of silent brick shells where factories once billowed steam, near old railroad stations and tracks, and often in areas that have fallen on hard times.
Gold Medal Flour | Eventually | Why Not Now | Bakes Best Bread
Riding towards home after snapping a few photos, it occurred to me that invariably when I am in these areas, I will encounter people walking on the street. And these people are more often than not, curious and friendly. They’ll flash a smile, give a hello and offer some chit-chat about my bike.
Snyder & Fancher | Wholesale Grocers
Duluth Imperial Flour
As I mulled over my interactions with people on the street I thought about my range of experiences on the different rungs of the economic ladder. Some stranger in an astronaut suit milling around snapping photos of a burned out factory doesn’t seem to raise suspicion in people. Just something to ponder…