Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mail Pouch Tobacco Barns

The six original Mail Pouch barn painters all lined up for a picture in 1925. If you were to travel some of the U,S, routes throughout the Northeastern part of these United States, such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, or West Virginia, you will probably see some remains of a now forgotten art of outdoor advertising by way of the Mail Pouch Tobacco barn signs.
This all started back in 1925 in Syracuse, New York, when six men, 2 per truck, started their "barnstorming" painting: of Mail Pouch signs on barns. The trucks were Ford model T's with side curtains.
The original six man crew included: Bill Hart, Bill Bucks, Kenneth Walkerman, Carl Wunelle, and Maurice Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman, affectionately called "Zim" by family and friends, is the only living member of the original crew. He is the one who tells this story of barn advertising signs.
Zim was 18 when he graduated from high school near Washington Ct. House, Ohio, in 1924. His brother, Walter, was an executive with the YMCA, then living in Youngstown, Ohio. He urged him to come to Youngstown to find a job. He became interested in sign painting and went to night school at the YMCA and worked during the day as an apprentice in a sign studio.
In August of 1925, Maurice traveled to Syracuse where he met the contractor for the sign work which was hired by the Bloch Brothers Tobacco Co. in Wheeling, W,Va., where they manufactured Mail Pouch chewing tobacco. The money paid to the contractor to do barn signs was from funds the Company allotted for Advertising. From Syracuse they traveled west on main highways, the U,S. and state highways. They looked for barns to paint their signs on.
Harley Warrick.....(The last Mail Pouch barn painter)








41 comments:

Rikkij said...

Ya know-that was really cool back when they used to paint ads on barns and houses and such. Sure beats billboards. Where we goin tomorrow? ~Rick

Erik Bledsoe said...

I grew up in West Virginia and always loved those Mail Pouch barns. It was a very unique advertsing tool. They were ahead of their time in the advertising arena. I didn’t know the history of the painters, very neat article.

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My Blog - http://www.SurfMyName.info

Anonymous said...

I am a sign artist? airbrush artist
I am doing a mural on ZIMS grandsons camper. Its partially a tribute to family and as I read the article on the barn painters and mr Zimmermans discription of his days. I have a kindred spirit with those Road Artist of those days
today everything is computerized, lettering and pictures are digitized, nothing is done by hand
Everyone today are vinyl jockies
I still hand letter and do my drawings by practice.
Life was easieer then, people had more to live there lives simply, they loved generously, cared deeply, spoke kindly, and pretty much left the rest up to the Lord.

this is one of those storys as I travel the road that I will talk about and tell people about as I travel this country doing my work, as one of the last road artist, still walking the dog
I thank the Buckleys for this opportunity to add to Mr(ZIMS)Zimmermans story
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
J. Thomas Spy....jtspy.com

Allritebro said...

As a kid growing up in the 1960's in Chester Pennsylvania, I remember the long car trips to see my grandparents in Charleston, West Virginia. My sister and I play the Mail Pouch game. (Counting Mail Pouch barn adds. Whoever saw it first, claimed it.) The winner was the one with the most barns seen first. On this one particular trip our father drove through Wheeling West Virginia. Lo and behold, my sister saw the Mail Pouch factory, She claimed immediate victory stating the factory outweighed all the barns put together...GAME OVER

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