In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Term for the Day: "Wall Dog," and the Reason Why

Every writer's process is different -- and, making it more confusing, sometimes every book takes an author on a different kind of path. I'm crafting a mystery that is mostly set in Lyndonville, Vermont, in 1899-1900, and -- the same way I did with North Danville, when I was writing The Secret Room -- I visit the town often and take photos of places that might crop up in the book, like the railroad crossing, and a back driveway with a sign that says "Angie's Alley." But I've also become fascinated by the painted advertising signs lingering in town ... with no real expectation that they would show up in my novel.

Today I did some basic research into who painted such signs, and when, and how. I don't yet have the northern New England names of the (probably) men who did these, but I'm confident that I'll find them, eventually. And meanwhile, was excited today to learn a new term: wall dog. Apparently it wasn't entirely complimentary, but it fit the profession: painters who covered walls with signs, and "worked like a dog" for their wages, often in blistering hot summers. On the website PaintedAd.com are interviews with some wall dogs; here is a sample from site author Wm. Stage, who has a book on these (I'm ordering a copy!):
In 1983, I spoke with Art Hunn, then 82 and an administrator with the Painter’s District Council No. 2 here in St. Louis. His recollection of life as a signpainter stretched back seven decades to that day in 1916 when he signed on as an apprentice with the Thomas Cusask Co.
“Each spring as many as fifteen two-man crews would go out on the road three or four months at a time,” Art began. “We’d go into a town, and back then the Williams Company had lots of gas and oil signs leased, so we’d paint bulletins on filling station lots.” By 1924, Hunn and his partner were driving around Illinois, Missouri and Iowa in an “old broken-down Dodge,” punctuating scenic vistas with signs of the times—Bull Durham Tobacco, Pillsbury Flour, and Coca-Cola. Each crew, said Art, was expected to complete a sign a day.
Last week I showed this photo of the Gold Medal Flour painted ad in Lyndonville.

And here's one for Coca Cola, from the White Market outer wall:

Of course, wall art advertising isn't limited to the "old days" -- here are two (or more) pieces from Angie's Alley.

More to learn, every day -- and all of it keeps me writing.

No comments: