Friday, September 7, 2012

Foggy morns

This is the time of year when we arise at dawn to fog. Meteorologists say that's because the humidity that builds up during the warm daytime sun condenses toward the ground as the atmosphere cools overnight. The fog usually burns off quickly, but its presence is a harbinger of autumn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A new use for Legos

In October of last year the German street artist Megx transformed an old railroad bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, into a giant Lego-like structure. The existing bridge was retained, but the artist superimposed brightly colored panels on the walls and underside to give the illusion of being Lego bricks. Once part of the Wuppertal Bewegung railroad line, the bridge previously had been converted to a pedestrian and bicycle path. The city fathers were looking for striking artwork that would become part of an urban renewal program aimed at enhancing the residents' quality of life. They certainly succeeded!

This is the old, bland bridge ...

And now the remake ...

Monday, August 13, 2012


Many years ago, I bought an attractive metal re-creation of the "Gaycock" label. Purportedly it was a design from a old-time wooden packing crate that was used to ship produce from farm or grove to the customer. Copies of the design, in paper form, are sold all over the Internet. The design seems authentic--but is it? One observer has said paper copies of the label are so commonplace that it's hard to believe that so many exist in excellent condition in 2012. After all, these labels would have been printed prior to the 1950s or earlier. Maybe they are reprints? Perhaps. But I couldn't find anything on the distributor's name shown on the label, "Stanley Levinson Co." Perhaps the company went out of business long before the Internet age. So, I am left to wonder: Was there really ever a Gaycock brand?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Wild, Wild West

The Western frontier is part of the cultural tradition of the United States. For a century, the cowboy has been an iconic American image, representing such values as rugged individualism, patriotism, courage and masculinity. Cowboys were a common theme in advertising, particularly in the period from 1920 to 1960, decades after the frontier was fully settled. Using cowboys to sell apples and cantaloupes may seem a bit odd, but that's what growers and distributors did back in the day. The Western images appeared on the labels of wooden crates which were used to ship their products--and attract hungry consumers at the grocery store. Here are a few examples.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Old-time packing crates: historical themes

More in my series on the lithographed labels that emblazoned on the ends of packing crates prior to the 1960s ...

Some growers and distributors of fruits and vegetables adopted a historical motif in promoting their produce. Some of these were drawn from figures in the Civil War; there were still Civil War veterans or dependents alive at the time. Others delved into earlier eras for their inspiration; a few celebrated current events, such as the New Deal of the 1930s. Here is a selection, in chronological order, of some of the notables.