Eddy Bread Restoration Project

The Eddy Bread restoration project in Helena is receiving some of its first media attention. Sanjay Talwani of the Helena Independent Record has written a nice article about the sign and the goal of family and friends to refresh the image. Not unusual for this kind of effort, the comments following the article reflect the differing opinions of people within the community.

Eddy’s Bread Restoration

The Eddy’s Bread Restoration project in Helena is in full swing. A very nice description of the initial phase of the project by Sanjay Talwani can be viewed here in the Helena Independent Record.

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 5:49 am by Jeanne Elliott · Permalink · One Comment
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More on Eddy’s Bread

Who doesn’t love picnics in the park – minus mosquitos of course. Saturday I had the honor of eating with the O’Connell family, descendants of JE O’Connell of Eddy’s Bread, and Nancy Bennett, a contemporary Wall Dog from The Wall Dogs . The O’Connell family has been approved to repaint the Eddy Bread ghost sign located on Last Chance Gulch and are making final preparations for “refreshing” the sign. It seems they do not want a complete re-paint as they want to keep the sign consistent with Helena’s historic downtown.

An added bonus to the eventful picnic was a tour of the O’Connell home in the Mansion District of Helena. It is a wonderful home, designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice, and has innovations and enhancements throughout. This guy loved closets and I would kill for one-tenth of them. Much more will come as the September painting event comes around – and many thanks go to the O’Connells and Nancy for talking to me about the project.

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 6:21 am by Jeanne Elliott · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Book contract!

The contract is signed and in the mail! The History Press has commissioned me to write a book representing the fading ads of Butte, Montana. The rich history of Butte, the boom to bust and revitalization will make this book a good read and nice addition to the fading ad books The History Press is publishing. I couldn’t be more pumped about this great Montana story. More to come…..

Posted on June 3, 2012 at 7:38 am by Jeanne Elliott · Permalink · 7 Comments
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Orange Crush

Orange Crush in Great FallsThere I was looking at the much celebrated restored Owl Cigar sign in Great Falls when this Orange Crush sign caught my eye. So far this is the only Orange Crush sign I have seen in Montana.

J.M. Thompson of Chicago is recognized as the original inventor of Orange Crush in 1906. However, in 1916 Clayton J. Howell and chemist Neil Ward led the way in the development of the brand. Ward, a beverage and extract chemist, perfected the process of blending ingredients taken from the delicate oils in oranges. This process would become known as the “Ward Process” and during the early years the drink was labeled as “Ward’s Orange Crush.”

Between the 1940′s and 1970′s Crush bottled “The Delectable Refreshment” in a brown “krinkly” bottle which reportedly kept the sun’s rays from entering, thus protecting the fresh fruit flavor. Even today, when mentioning Orange Crush to those who drank it then, it is frequently referred to “Orange Crush in the brown bottle.”

Crush had a fairly extensive advertising campaign.They marketed heavily in both magazines and newspapers – and of course on brick wall ads.  As a note of interest, twelve illustrations were commissioned to Norman Rockwell and Orange Crush. One of his illustrations in a 1932 Saturday Evening Post issue celebrates Orange Crush as having “Vitamins Instead of Chemicals” - “That is Why Leading Health Authorities Approve This Healthy New Orange Juice Drink.”  These illustrations were the only advertising contract he ever accepted. The lucrative $300.00 per ad didn’t appear to compensate for the  feeling the advertising contract stifled his creativity. The Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising has 60 years of Orange Crush magazine ads that, for soft drink enthusiasts, is a great resource to satisfy your curiosities.

While Orange Crush was the first flavor produced by the company, Lemon Crush and Lime Crush were developed in a line known as “the Crushes.” Grape Crush was introduced in 1960, Cherry Crush in 1962 and Pineapple Crush in 1966. In the decades to follow its inception, Orange Crush was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes,  Procter & Gamble Co.  and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. and over the years there has been no less than 39 flavors distributed in the United State, Canada, and Kuwait. I would argue that there is no better flavor than the original Orange Crush – as advertised here on the side of this brick building in Great Falls.

Caporal Cigarettes “Ask Dad – He Knows”

Ask Dad - He Knows

In October, a man chained himself to the Greek Cafe in protest to its destruction. Some would say, “Only in Butte.” But this man’s action was more of a testament to the spirit and pride Butte natives have to their town, regardless of how economically challenged they have been for the last 70 years.

Amazingly, as the cafe came down a wall of faded ads emerged. The photo I have posted here is an advertisement for Caporal Cigarettes who, in the early 1900′s, had an advertising campaign for “Ask Dad – He Knows.” The ad revealed on this wall states: “Who smoked “Sweet Caps” on his high wheeled bicycle? Smoke Sweet Caps – Ask Dad – He Knows.” If you look really hard you can see the big wheel of the bicycle. I found reference to 14 documented “Ask Dad” slogans including one that said “Whose doctor said Good Tobacco Won’t Hurt You? Smoke Sweet Caps. Ask Dad – He Knows.”

The “Ask Dad” campaigns piqued my curiosity about early marketing of cigarettes; specifically to young children. Have you seen Jolly Old Saint Nicholas with his “droll little mouth drawn up like a bow” smoking a cigarette? Check it out. How about a preschooler smoking a pipe? What about capitalizing on the emulation most young boys experience to be like their dads?

Most common was the practice of placing cigarette ads on the back of collectible baseball cards. In 1909, the baseball great, Honus Wagner, asked that his picture be removed from a card promoting Sweet Caporal cigarettes. Controversy exists about the reason for this decision. One is that he was against tobacco and the influence it had on young people; another was that he was not being compensated. Regardless, he determined he would not be promoted through this cigarette advertisement. The card was taken off the market and its scarcity led it to be the most valued card in baseball’s history at over $2,000,000.00.

Who smokes Sweet Caporal Cigarettes? No one any more, but the sign we now see in Butte reminds us of a time where displaying  advertising on brick buildings influenced upcoming generations.


Missoula’s “Best” Ghost Sign

Of the more fascinating ghost signs I encounter are the ones that represent multiple layers of advertising like this one in an alley in Missoula, Montana.  No other ghost sign in that town of the dozen or so I have documented has the complexity or variance that this one does, nor are there any with multiple colors like this one. Curious as to why this one building attracted so many advertisers, beside the fact that it is on the side of the old Atlantic hotel, I scoped the streets.  It was not a reach to  conclude  it had something to do with the fact that the building also touted a lunch counter and the wall faced the direction of the train station where people would be embarking. This is a great example of how brick advertisements enticed weary travelers and locals to stop for a Coca Cola and a smoke.

Judging by the fact that most of the signs are broken up by the placement of windows it is obvious the wall was once an un-interrupted impressive display of advertising.On the right side of the wall on the bottom there is a faint graphic of Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco which was popularly painted across the country by Thomas Cusak Comany and an  advertisement for an Outdoor Store. Try as I might I cannot make out signs below what is”TORE” and a graphic to the left. Judging from the published Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco signs I have seen I suspect the “ING” is part of “SMOKING.” If so, it would suggest that the Bull Durham ad was a very large display. Ghost Signs of MissoulaI was a bit dismayed to see that the great representation of multiple ghost signs had recently added graffiti. Being one who photographs and has researched  train graffiti I know many artists have a code of sorts that rejects painting over ghost signs. Too bad someone had to “save the date” on the wall of these great apparitions.

I have posted multiple views of this sign, including some close ups, on my Flickr page so please visit if you want to decipher this very interesting puzzle. There is also a very thoughtful editorial in the Tacoma Tribune published this June that discusses the trend of repainting ghost signs along with a possible compromise of retaining the history and mystery of multiple images.

Posted on August 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm by Jeanne Elliott · Permalink · 3 Comments
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Livingston, Yellowstone and Calamity James

Downtown Livingston

Upon recommendation from my ghost sign friends I drove through Livingston on my most recent trip to Yellowstone National Park. Ghost signs in Livingston? Okay, I will chase down any lead for the next best sign in the “Last Best Place” in the lower 48.  I took the photo above, turned around at the corner and saw as many looking the other way! It is a relatively small town – under 16,000 people in the entire county and less than 8,000 in Livingston.  It is now mentioned among Montanans for its famous residents and visitors like Dennis Quaid and Peter Fonda instead of its Garnier Cigar factory, Northern Pacific Railroad and the rough and tough Calamity Jane from years past.  It was the movie location for A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer. Livingston was the original Gateway  to Yellowstone and is a short half hour to my absolute “MUST stay twice a year place” Chico Hot Springs. If Livingston interests you Wikipedia has a great overview of  its history including a list of past and present celebrities.

Back to ghost signs – the real reason I drove through that charming town. There is a quite well known M&O Cigar sign sporting “Every Puff A Pleasure” as well as two Coca Cola signs, Chesterfield Cigarettes, Its The Wheat Flour and many signs painted over signs which are  painted over other signs. Over time I will sort through what they actually say and look up some of the history for a future topic. I will be back to Livingston. Not just to improve on the photos I got but to spend some time in a cafe and browse a book store. I will be posting more photos of Livingston and the surrounding towns on Flickr and my photo page later.

Rex Is King

“You can bake – successfully – every one of those delicious things in your cook book if you use Rex Flour.” It is “the best of all foods for growing children.”  WOW. And to think I could have been a gourmet chef if I had just used Rex Flour.

Rex Flour was produced under Royal Milling Company. My earliest finding for Rex Flour in Montana dates to 1911 in the court record of “The Royal Milling Company vs. The J. F. Imbs Milling Company” over the use of “Rex” as a trademark for their flour. Imbs claimed Royal Milling to be fraudulent as they had  used “Rex” on their flour since 1873. The court ruled in favor of Royal Milling and “Rex” became the registered trademark.

Rex Flour signs have been sighted in several Montana cities; Butte, Helena and Fort Shaw to name a few, as well as Spokane, Washington where some very nice photo representations have been taken by Frank Jump, another photographer of ghost signs. The mill in Great Falls producing Rex Flour had a capacity of 2,250,000 bushels of grain and the ability to produce 300 barrels of flour daily making it the largest mill in the state.

In 1928 Royal Milling was acquired along with Red Star Milling Company, Kalispell Flour Mills Company, and Rocky Mountain Elevator Company by General Mills.  Following these acquisitions General Mills became a world power in the industry of flour production. Did Betty Crocker use Rex Flour?

"Rex The King"

You’ll Like Highlander Beer

Highlander Beer  has had a long, if somewhat interrupted past.

While the beer industry gained its first foothold in Montana in 1874, the  Highlander label originated in 1910  under the auspices of Garden City Brewery  located  in Missoula. George Gerber, the owner, wanted his beer to be advertised as “Highlander” but the name was already taken by the New York Highlanders baseball team. Fortunately for Mr. Gerber the Highlanders were transitioning their name to the New York Yankees (!!!) and did not have a problem with him acquiring the name.

In 1919 the grains and hops business was put on hold for Prohibition. Upon its repeal in 1933 Highlander found its way back to the market under the newly formed Missoula Brewing Company owned by  Emile Sick. Through his business acumen Highlander Beer became a Northwest presence and stayed in the market under family supervision until the brewery shut down in 1964.

Most recently in 2008 the label was introduced to the public by Bob Lukes, a Missoula resident, and is being received enthusiastically.  Very impressive  40 foot wide Highlander Beer advertisements still exist in Butte, Montana. Others were reportedly painted across the state and I hope to discover them.  Also evident on the Butte signs is the advertisement of  Bertoglio Storage who distributed Highlander beer in Butte. Because Highlander changed its label in the 50′s to a tartan plaid branding, and because the sign on the side of the building is more of a plaid design this sign should be at least 50 years old. You Butte or Highlander blog followers may know more so log on and let me know what you think.

For the beer enthusiasts of Montana there is a comprehensive article of  Highlander beer in the April 29th, 2010 issue of  the Missoula Independent by Alex Sakariassen and from the pen of a home brewer here are a few of the Highlander beer recipes .  I guess you can’t keep a good thing like Highlander beer down.

Slainte Mhor!

Posted on July 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm by Jeanne Elliott · Permalink · Leave a comment
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