Monday, March 22, 2010

A Sign of Spring

Over a century ago, the painting of delivery wagons was recognized as a tangible sign of spring. Typically, local deliverers of groceries, milk, meat, fish, baked goods, ice, and other commodities would coat their wagons with fresh paint and often finely-detailed ornament each March and April. The painting was done by one of a number of firms engaged in the work in Middleborough, though the failure of these painters to advertise their business with the Middleboro News in 1887 led its editor to publish the following rejoinder:

This is the way Br. Wood, of the Middleboro News rubs it on those sleepy individuals who don't advertise their business:

"Sign of Spring; that our business men are having their wagons varnished so they reflect your face. Our painters don't advertise, so for fear of stirring up jealousy we refrain from saying whose shop they came from."

Clark & Lovell Delivery Wagons, photograph, late 1890s.
The delivery wagons of grocers Clark & Lovell were representative of the wooden enclosed wagons used throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Middleborough retailers to deliver groceries and other goods to homes throughout the community. Typically these wagons were refreshed each spring with a new coat of paint and detailing such as the advertisements seen here on the bodies of the wagons. Clark & Lovell was founded in 1896 probably as the successor firm to Clark & Vaughan and it operated from the Richards Block on what is now Center Avenue. The building is now occupied by the Royal Cafe.

Old Colony Memorial, April 14, 1887


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