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Polly Parrot

The Polly Parrot Shoes for Children is another of the outdoor advertising wall signs found in mostly city locations where the foot traffic would justify the cost of the sign. These were placed anywhere that offered a good public view.

The wall dogs that painted these signs were often freelance going wherever the work would pay but most worked for the major sign companies of the day. They would follow the advance man or lease man who would travel scouring the landscape, hunting for virgin barns or the prime wall space of city buildings. Some companies had favorite standard locations for their signage. Coca-Cola wanted ground-level walls. Wrigley's Gum liked expansive facades, warehouses and the like. Gold Medal Flour was content with more obscure locations and Mail Pouch tobacco preferred the country locations primarily on the sides of barns. When they found a good location they'd usually offer the property owner cash on the line. Others, usually in country locations, would prefer a watch. Many lease men would carry a box of watches for the payment of such cases.

Polly Parrot was a fading and barely visible treasure located on the side of a building in Binghamton, New York. Polly Parrot was a very popular shoe brand sold nation-wide even making it's biggest advertising push on the Howdy Doody television show in the 50s. The sign is long forgotten in a part of town itself faded into obscurity.

A great reference to the fading world of old brick wall signs is fadingads.com. There is a book, now out of print, called "Ghost Sings: Brick Wall Signs in America" by William Stage that is also a great resource of this fading American art. In it he quotes Richard Huntington, News Critic from the Buffalo News: "A sign is obviously at first only a practical thing, a means to sell a product or point out a business. It has no Pretensions of lasting value. But as time passes, a sign--like all common things--gathers romance."

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