Letterville Bull Board Letterville | Bull Board


Front Page
A Letterhead History
About Us
Become A Resident
Edit Your Database Info
Find A Letterhead

Letterville Merchants
Resident Downloads
Letterville BookShop
Future Live Meets
Past Meets
Past Panel Swaps
Letterhead Profiles
Business Cards
Become A Merchant

Click on the button
below to chat with other
Letterville users.


Steve & Barb Shortreed
144 Hill St., E.
Fergus, ON, Canada
N1M 1G9

Phone: 519-787-2892
Fax: 519-787-2673
Email: barb@letterville.com

Copyright ©1995-2008
The Letterhead Website



The Letterville BullBoard Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile login | search | faq | calendar | im | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Letterville BullBoard » Letterhead/Pinstriper Talk » Article about old signs in today's SF Chronicle

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Article about old signs in today's SF Chronicle
Kimberly Zanetti
Member # 2546

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Kimberly Zanetti   Author's Homepage   Email Kimberly Zanetti   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This quote is from the end of the article...I know of a lot of people who would be interested!!!

"I thought about putting them all together into a little book, but I thought, 'Who else would be interested in this besides me?' "
Terrazzo Thresholds
Traces of the past turn up on Mission District doorways
- Sam Whiting
Sunday, April 24, 2005

The names of bygone retailers are lined up like tombstones, set in tile and terrazzo along Mission Street. Nobody knows or cares except Dorothy Harders, who has made it her business to go along and take pictures of them.

"I want to stress that this really doesn't dominate my life. This is just a little something that I got a whim on," Harders was saying the other day as she kicked aside a doormat to check for a name inlaid beneath it. "I'm not bashful," she says, after sleuthing out the word "Union," which she recognizes as all that's left of the Union Furniture Store.

"These people just cover them up," she says, as a quizzical clerk watches her snap a picture. "It doesn't mean anything to them." It wouldn't mean anything to Harders either if she hadn't visited a dentist named Eric Debbane on Mission at 24th. Walking into the storefront, she stepped over the word "Wigham" set in tile. Nobody in the office knew what Wigham meant, and this didn't sit right with Harders as she sat in the dentist's chair.

"It just preyed on my mind," she recalls. So the next time she rode BART from her Daly City home to see Dr. Debbane, she skipped the 24th Street Station, got off at 16th Street and walked back, head down at every entryway.

This is how she came across the name "16th Street Theatre" spelled out in green on white tile and now half covered by the ticket booth for the Victoria.

It helps that Harders spent her teenage years, in the 1940s, in a flat on 19th Street and can remember what businesses used to be where. She also remembers the streetcar that said "cemeteries" on the side, and terminated at Colma. But she is not nostalgic for the old Mission Street. "I hated it then, and I don't like it now," says Harders, who thinks of herself more as a documentarian.

The best-preserved example of her whim is Redlick-Newman -- bold black letters against a pale green backdrop with orange stripes on the southeast corner of 17th and Mission. "There were two separate furniture stores in two buildings," she says. "One was called Redlick's, and the other was Frank Newman. Evidently they went together."

The older names are in tile mosaic. The newer and brighter ones are in terrazzo, a poured mixture of marble chips and cement.

"This was in the '20s and '30s, before my time," Harder says. "I think there was an air of permanence to it." There wasn't. Redlick-Newman is now a thrift store. The Hub, once a dress shop, now sells luggage, its name partially covered by camouflage duffel bags on display.

That's the charm of Mission Street signage. New merchants don't bother to get rid of the relics of the old.

Further along she encounters the letters "axma." But Harders knows this is "Waxman's," with the outside letters covered by a display of dresser- drawers pushing toward the sidewalk. "I remember it absolutely," she says. "I think it was called Waxman's Starlight Furniture."

At 22nd Street, she crosses to the west side of Mission to admire the big green dollar sign in the sidewalk on the northwest corner of Mission and 22nd. "I thought I hit pay dirt when I found this," she says, not pardoning the pun. '$' represents "The National Dollar Stores." "During the Second World War, they put a big sign in the window -- We Are 100% Chinese. They didn't want anyone thinking they were Japanese."

The only original sidewalk-sign still in business is Crescent Jewelers. "Step on in. I give you 70 percent off today," says the salesman, who's out polishing it.

A few doors up is a name scratched out but for an "R" and an "M," which Harders pieces together as "Walter May." Still legible is "Karl's" from the shoe store. "Remember Debbie Reynolds?" she asks. "She married Karl."

Karl's is next to "Mode 'O Day," but only an old-timer can decipher it because the bottom half is cut off by pavement. Si's Flowers got a fate worse than that. The name was jackhammered out not long after Harders got a picture of it.

She's not finished yet. "There are more out there, I know it," she says after a morning's search. And what will she do when her photography project is finished? "Put them away," she says. "I thought about putting them all together into a little book, but I thought, 'Who else would be interested in this besides me?' "

Just in case, she has written some text: "A few are intact, but most are in sad shape, dirty or missing letters and sit there like orphans. . . . They are gradually disappearing . . . these steppingstones to the past."

E-mail Sam Whiting at swhiting@sfchronicle.com.

Page 4
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/04/24/CMG5RC0EKF1.DTL

©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

Kimberly Zanetti Purcell
Folsom, CA
email: Kimberly@AmethystProductivity.com

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” AA Milne

Posts: 3722 | From: Folsom, CA | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
John Lennig

Member # 2455

Icon 1 posted      Profile for John Lennig   Author's Homepage   Email John Lennig   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, holy holy, Kimberly, that IS COOL!

I'm going to be on the lookout for these, in the Old part of Town, obviously...

Like the Ghost Signs book, fascinating!

Now if she gets into Ghost Signs, it could Get Out of Hand for her!! lol

Thanks for posting this, it's a 3rd cousin to signs, or something like that...No CNC involved!


John Lennig / Big Top Sign Arts
5668 Ewart Street, Burnaby,
British Columbia, Canada

Posts: 2184 | From: Burnaby, British Columbia,Canada | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Russ McMullin

Member # 5617

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Russ McMullin   Author's Homepage   Email Russ McMullin       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This was an interesting article. I wish they had included some pics along with the text.

Russ McMullin
Tooele, UT

My mind wanders. And that's not a good thing, 'cause it's too small to be out there alone.

Posts: 3129 | From: Tooele, UT | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

Quick Reply

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins

Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Letterville. A Community Of Letterheads & Pinheads!

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2

Search For Sign Supplies


Letterhead Suppliers Around the World