Revealing all, there’s nothing left to hide

The Cherry Street Drug Store plaster chipping crew

From left: Kelly Murphy, Skip Tucker, Mike Webb, Ringleader Paul Perdue, and Alan Smithey, the volunteer plaster-chippers are joined by Tommie Wright, son of the late Arthur Wright, the artist who painted the sign in October of 1947

Last week, we left you in an alley between 11th and 12th Avenues on Cherry Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas taking a gander at a partially uncovered plastered-over Coca-Cola sign on the side of a long-since vacant building once known as Cherry Street Drugs. This week, we are dragging you back to the same spot to observe completion of the job.

Paul Perdue, a certifiable history aficionado, discovered the old sign and put out a call for volunteers January 2, 2015 to join him the next day to remove the rest of the plaster. The volunteers came and in southern parlance, “got shed of ‘bout sixty – sebbenty-pucent” of the plaster.

Tommie Wright

See a full size picture of Tommie Wright, son of the artist who painted the sign. Click the pic and go.

At the conclusion of those efforts, the group agreed to reassemble — same time, same station — the following week, to complete their noble task. At this point, we steer you to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com to see nine other pictures and other information from the activities of the day. We’ll wait here while you look.

We join the volunteer plaster chipping crew for this, the one-week anniversary of their original get-together. The original group was ringleader Perdue, joined by Alan Smithey, Kelly Murphy, and Mike Webb. They were joined the second Saturday by Skip Tucker, another gracious volunteer, and Tommie Wright, son of the artist who painted the sign in 1947.

Chip Tucker and Alan Smithey

Front to back: Skip Tucker and Alan Smithey happily chip away the the plaster covering the bottom of the sign, despite bone-chilling conditions.

Teeth-chattering temp

The weather was 32° F with a substantially lower wind chill factor. Despite these less-than-ideal, teeth-chattering conditions for outdoor volunteer work, they “licked in” to the job and completed the task of uncovering the sign in a couple of hours.

Volunteers chipping plaster

Left to right, Alan Smithey and Kelly Murphy are chilly chippers as they bang away at the covering plaster.

Volunteers chipping plaster

A second view of Kelly and Alan at work with a better view of the sign.

A look inside the old drug store

As the chippers chipped away, the siren call of the inside of the long vacant drug store was too much to resist and I entered the premises through a broken out front door. Somehow, you just don’t expect to find a piano in a vacant drug store, but there it was, just bigger’n’ Dallas. Perchance some souls established a church in the old structure after the drug store egress.

Old piano in abandoned drug store

The last things you expect to see in an abandoned drug store are a makeshift pulpit and an old piano. It makes one suspect that someone may have declared his or her self a preacher and attempted to start a church in the old building. The next picture confirms our suspicions.

Inside of old drug store

Looks like a church pew under some of the overturned shelving. Either the last service got a bit out of hand or ransacking hobbyists came later and made the old drug store/church the object of their affection.

Inside of old drug store

If indeed the secondary use of the building was as a church, it looks like the back room did double duty as the parsonage. In the words of the legendary Fats Waller, “one never knows, do one.”

Back to the sign

Paul Perdue

Paul Perdue, instigator of the project and ringleader of the crew makes a healthy swing at the plaster with a smile.

Mike Webb on ladder

Mike Webb takes a swing at the last remaining plaster contamination.

Mike Webb on ladder

Mike Webb, a congenial volunteer gives the camera his best smile in bone-chilling weather.

These volunteers are not clamoring for attention, pay, or praise. They did what they did because they believe it is the right thing to do. Granted they appear to have some historic appreciation genetic materials circulating in their persons, but that is a good thing. Few will argue that lessons from the past are well-placed in civilized society. Most will agree that these lessons make society more civil — and Lord knows we need more civility — even if it comes from an old sign.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

%d bloggers like this: