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.
The town of Newburgh, New York isn’t exactly what you’d call a motorcycle destination. At least not for pleasure riding, anyway. It’s a once-grand city that languished for decades in decline and now has an ember of resurrection starting to glow.
Cities like Newburgh, whose heyday has long since passed, are great places to hunt for ghost signs. That’s why I found myself riding through its streets.
One of the upsides of using a motorcycle for these trips is that motorcycle is easy to park, quick to get in and out of and around traffic and can present itself as non-threatening. Especially in the case of the Bonneville. That bike is downright polite.
Large Scale Uneeda Biscuit Sign
Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen quite a few Uneeda Biscuit ghost signs, in several different states. Whenever I do, I’ll think to myself, “yeah, I kinda do need a biscuit.” It’s kind of like an inside joke I tell myself. Perhaps the inside-est of all jokes.
The King of Wheat Foods Uneeda Biscuit 5¢ Sold only in Packages 5¢ National Biscuit Company
Maxwell House Coffee – Gold Medal Flour
This two-fer is a bit hard to make out – one layer is a Gold Medal Flour ad, and the other a Maxwell House coffee ad. Gold Medal Flour is another popular sight, but I’ve only ever seen one other Maxwell House coffee ad.
“Good to the last drop…” Did you sing the jingle? I did. I’m showing my age.
Another Uneeda Biscuit Ghost Sign
The National Soda Cracker
Gold Medal Flour – Jap-A-Lac
Jap-A-Lac is new to me. Apparently, it was varnish, stain, and enamel made by the Glidden Varnish Company. You learn something new every day.
Though I couldn’t get a very good view of this ghost, we can see it is Jap-A-Lac and Gold Medal Flour.
Jap-A-Lac – Gold Medal Flour
Another Jap-A-Lac and Gold Medal Flour two-fer. I was able to make out most of the writing, but the top and third lines in yellow on the upper right escape me.
Jap-A-Lac In the Green Can 10 Enamel Colors
Newburgh Ghost Signs are Plentiful
This handful of signs were all on Liberty Street, save for the Maxwell House. There are probably more just waiting to be seen. I hope to get back to look around some more!
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…
Troy, New York was once a bustling place that depended largely on the steel industry. When that moved away, the city began to decline. Such places are great for spotting ghost ads. I passed through town over the weekend and saw a few.
I’d pulled over to take a photo of this Uneeda Biscuit ghost on Williams and Ferry in Troy, NY. The man you see in the doorway was watching what I was doing with some interest. I imagine that when some astronaut pulls up on a motorcycle and starts taking pictures of your house it might be an invasion of your privacy. When I finished up and stowed my camera in my tankbag, I looked at him and smiled. He smiled back. Mark that down in the win column for a flip-up helmet!
The slogan from Gold Medal Flour says, “Eventually. Why not now?” What a fitting message for a mind like mine that sees signs in everything! This ghost was painted on the building at the corner of 1st & Tyler in Troy, NY.
There was another Uneeda Biscuit on the corner of Harrison and 4th. There wasn’t very much foot or car traffic, so I parked in the corner crosswalk while I quickly snapped a photo. While there, a man in a work truck pulled up behind me preparing to make a right. At first, I thought maybe I was blocking him from seeing to pull out but no, he was waiting for me to finish taking pictures 🙂