Sign Painter at Work

History keeps happening around us every day, if we become aware of it.

Yesterday I saw my friend Louis Brady’s truck parked across the street from my office and discovered him repainting a Coca-Cola sign on the south-facing wall of 103 North Fayetteville Street.

Louis is a Franklinville resident and local artist who, years ago, did a series of paintings and prints of old mills in Randolph County. We ought to look at those here some day, I’m thinking.

Louis got into the sign-painting business in 1964, when the Coke people hired him and an assistant to paint signs in Randolph, western Davidson and eastern Chatham. He covered the territory from Lexington to Pittsboro. At one time Coke had 6 sign painters working out of Greensboro, Louis said. The company had a variety of sign patterns, and had “posterized” the various designs so the painters could quickly trace the patterns on a wall and start painting. Louis was the last Coca-Cola sign painter on the payroll when he quit in 1972 to start his own sign painting business.

This Coke sign was first painted, he thinks, in the 1950s.  At least, it was already there when he started in 1964.   He last worked on it ten years ago, when Tim Allen (then the owner of the building), paid him $100 to repaint it.

His work truck…

The eye-catching sign, like most of the designs, only uses six colors of paint despite its bright look. It had faded considerably over the years, and even though the current owner refused to pay for any repainting, Louis volunteered his time and materials to freshen it up.

this ‘lighthouse’ design was particularly popular in North Carolina.  Several years ago he painted an exact copy of it on the side of a little wooden store building that once sat near the mill in Central Falls. Tom Britt had it restored at his house on Iron Mountain Road as a old country store; he has since sold it to Terry Tucker, who has moved it to his home off Old Farmer Road.

Hand-painted advertising billboards and signs are virtually a thing of the past- “virtually,” only because someone like Louis refuses to let some of them fade away.

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One Response to “Sign Painter at Work”

  1. whitebreadlife Says:

    Thanks for documenting this. I’m working on a post about Andy Thompson who is currently restoring signs all around NC and is soon to repaint the CocaCola sign in Franklinton NC. If you tag this article with “Ghostsign” and “WallDog” it will get a lot more interest.

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