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Sign Painting in the old days

Discussion in 'Hand Made Signs' started by Cross Signs, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Cross Signs

    Cross Signs Active Member

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    In the current issue of "Reminisce" There is this a story I thought was good. Check out what a sign painter could do for $25.00 back then.


    Just out of basic training at the end of World War II, my father-in-law, Robert Furgason, needed a job. I’m not sure how the idea took seed, but Dad decided to sell popcorn. Building materials were hard to come by, so Dad made his wagon entirely out of recycled items. A pingpong table became the floor, a Model T frame was the chassis, and the sides were made of Masonite walls with removable screens. A traveling sign painter added color and class for just $25.
    Dad asked his Uncle Harry to cosign a $100 loan for the roaster and popper, and then he was in business—and business was brisk! During his first weekend, Dad made enough to pay back the loan. He sold his popcorn for 10 cents a small box, 25 cents for a family-size box. He also roasted peanuts, which cost 15 cents. The prices never changed during the seven years Dad owned the wagon.
    The wagon was movable, but it mostly stayed in one place: across from a lively park where dances and picnics were often held. On a busy night, Dad would make at least $100, selling to a line that stretched quite a ways. His humble business, combined with the GI Bill and his day job at a lumberyard, paid his way through college.
    Eva Smith-Furgason • Ironwood, Michigan
     

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  2. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    ahhh the days when people werent in a freaking hurry! I remember back in late 80s early 90s telling a guy you would have his van for 1 week to do all 3 sides!
     
  3. RiXaX

    RiXaX Member

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    What a wonderful piece of family history!
     
  4. VolunteerSign

    VolunteerSign Member

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    In the early 80's people didn't even ask when I would have their sign ready, they knew we would get it to them as soon as we could. Ahhhh the good ole days
     
  5. signage

    signage Major Contributor

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    Another one.
     

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  6. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    my parents owned a bar 1957-78. i sold it in 78 a year after my mom passed.
    i remember them getting the place set up. it was in PA. and new type of lumber yard got started by a old friend of my mothers. they called it 84 LUMBER, in 84, pa. so we made a lot of trips there and i remember my mom talking to the owner.
    the bar served bottle beer, draft, whiskey, wine & included a restaurant license if you wanted to serve food.
    BOTTLE BEER .25, DRAFT IN A CHILLED MUG .15, SMALL DRAFT .05!!!!! SHOT A WHISKEY, .25, GLASS OF WINE, .25. COKE(7 oz bottle) .5. BAG OF POTATO CHIPS .05, CANDY BAR .05.......my parents owned a new car every 2-3 years, all big expensive ones. and i never wanted for anything. this is how i met the guy who taught me sign painting. he came in the bar one day, saw i had an interest and gave me all he knew.
     
  7. signage

    signage Major Contributor

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    OP was that guy Joe Hardy?
     
  8. Arlo Kalon 2.0

    Arlo Kalon 2.0 Very Active Member

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    i remember reading an old Signs of the Times article that said during the depression sign painters earned 25-40 a week depending on their ability. I'd like to see one of our brainiacs on here convert that into 2012 money. Of course, that was during the days when sign painters lived in the same neighborhoods as doctors and lawyers as well. I would have loved to live in that era when we were the only advertising available. I wonder if you can reincarnate back in time?
     
  9. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

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  10. SlightlyChilled

    SlightlyChilled Very Active Member

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    Old Paint where in PA ?????

     
  11. SD&F

    SD&F Very Active Member

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    I love all this history....
     
  12. TammieH

    TammieH Very Active Member

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    You figure the average laborer made about $50 a week in the 50"s. $25 for a job in the 40's probably was good money. I believe my boss at my first sign shop in the mid 70's charged about $200 for a 4x8 installed. I was getting 3 something an hour fresh out of high school.

    He had a show card artist do most of his show cards ...he was amazing, quick charcoal layout and then start putting brush to substrate. I feel lucky to witness the end of an era.
     
  13. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    the old "drunk painter" his name was WIZARD HAYNES, and all he ever said about his past was he was from somewhere in ohio. he lived in his car, painted outa his car, died in his car. i was given the opportunity to know him and have him teach me.
    my parents bar was in a small, small, town. PENOWA. PA.https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl 4 miles from AVELLA, 18 MILES FROM BURGETTSTOWN, where i went to high school, 20 miles from WASHINTON, PA.
    also when i sold the original STATE LINE INN(my mothers choice of name, 1957) it was the last bar in PA TO HAVE OUTHOUSES)))) the bar that is on the map, is the house i also owned. when the bar burnt down, after i sold it, i also sold the old house to the same guy. right near there is the MEADOWCROFT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG, and MEADOWCROFT VILLAGE. i also was the potter at this 1800's lifestyle village. here is the bar as of 2003. its probably worse now.
     

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  14. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

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    Well I just finished building a new 16' lettering bench and have some 1-shot on the way. I feel like picking up a brush again, just for the personal fun of it.
     
  15. Arlo Kalon 2.0

    Arlo Kalon 2.0 Very Active Member

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    I believe the Depression was 1930-33. It would definitely be more money than this amount as it would have to account for what money fell to in value during the Depression?
     
  16. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

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    Three different calculators put it within $5 of that figure.

    I went with 1945 since the OP said it was at the end of WWII. By 1945 the dollar had not only recovered from the depression the whole economy was booming.
     
  17. VolunteerSign

    VolunteerSign Member

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    I can remember doing 4x8's for the baseball field fence for about $200 each. The one that stands out the most was the one for the Lions Club...wonder if someone would paint two 4' lions faces for $200 now? I miss those days
     
  18. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    i recall getting $150.00 for a 4x8 fully coated and painted with one shot with full graphics and install. thats back when one shot was more damn durable than car urethanes. all banners were painted, vehicle graphics were laid out at night on an overhead....oh man how things have changed
     
  19. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    and how the PROFITS have declined for the one producing them. that 4x8 you did for $150.00, the 3/4 mdo was $30-35, 1-shot qt of paint was $4.00, gal of gas for your car was .40 cents)))))
    now you got printers out there sellin to the public for $2-3.00 a sq ft, with a $20,000.00 printer $3-400 in ink, printable stock.........
     
  20. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

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    Blah, blah, blah, damn printers, blah, blah, vinyl jockey, blah, blah, you kids stay offa my lawn, blah, blah, where's my prune juice, blah blah, blah, }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}, blah blah
     
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