I took a few moments today to drive around West Baltimore after I picked up a Vitamin C Blast Smoothie from my friend Andre’s excellent juice stall in the Avenue Market on Pennsylvania Avenue in Upton. It’s called Just Juice It and you should stop by and grab a juice or smoothie.
During my drive, I came across a corner rowhouse at the intersection of Riggs & McKean Avenues that had some of that wonderful old-school painted advertising on it. I’m guessing that the house had been a store of some sort because it said, A. Heim Groceries & Provisions. This alone would be cool but below that…and I almost didn’t see it at first was…well look at it yourself:I looked at it for a minute or two and then it dawned on me that it might say ‘Bull Durham’. I vaguely recalled that ‘Bull Durham’ wasn’t just one of the better Baseball/Soft-Porn/Poetry movies, but that ‘Bull Durham’ was a tobacco company.
I did a little google image searching to help verify my hypothesis and while there was a lot of ‘Bull Durham’ tobacco signs painted on the sides of many buildings throughout the country, none of them completely matched this sign. I’m sure that it was probably very normal to have local sign painters execute a national companies’ advertisements with an essential guideline on how to do it without corporate oversight. I guess, right?
Something also of note is that the words are partly painted over. Above the A.Heim lettering, it’s natural brick. Between the A. Heim lettering and the supposed ‘Bull Durham’ ad there is a bit of lighter paint and then the “Bull” sign is a pale yellow. That pale yellow appears in other ‘Bull Durham’ painted advertising. Here’s a look at a sign that is kind of similar to this one: This sign isn’t in Baltimore but it is reminiscent of the sign at Riggs & McKean.
As I discovered in my look through google images, many of the advertising posters for ‘Bull Durham’ tobacco utilized very offensive racist images of African-Americans. I’m wondering if maybe some of those images were included in the ad on Riggs & McKean and that is why the lower half was painted over. I’m speculating, of course, but could you imagine how troubling it would be to be Black and have to pass by an offensive depiction of African-Americans. Again, to be fair, I’m merely speculating as to why it was covered over.
Baltimore is full of these ‘Ghost’ signs and I hope to find every last one.