By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
When Joann and I were discussing what route to take on our long weekend in Iowa this summer, I mentioned to her that she had wanted to return to the town of Ackley. She told me she didn’t remember that and that she thought we had gotten everything we needed in that town.
Huh, I was stumped. I knew that after we got home last time, she had sent me an email showing something we had missed. But could I find her email? No. I knew there was an old window decal that we had missed last time, but I didn’t think that was it. Still, something was nagging at me that we should return.
Since I’m in charge of the route, I directed us to Ackley on the second day of our long weekend. We came into town from the south, and as we turned onto Main Street, we were both flabbergasted to see an advertising mural for Bull Durham that hadn’t been there the last time we were in town. It was not a new ad. It was an ad that had been uncovered when the building right next to it had been taken down. No one in the town had known it was there.
Joann got her equipment out and headed to the sign to take photos. I grabbed my phone to search the Internet. What I found was an article from the Ackley World Journal dated December 2, 2014 describing how the sign was uncovered when the garage next to Grumpy’s Bar was demolished.
I hadn’t consciously known about the sign, but the Universe must have been poking me about going to see it. An old flour sign had been uncovered in Madison, Wisconsin recently, and by the time we found out about it, construction had already covered over the sign. That process took less than a month, so we felt really blessed that this sign was still visible.
Bull Durham Tobacco was manufactured in Durham, North Carolina, from 1874 to 1957. By the turn of the century, it is believed that the Bull Durham Tobacco Company was the largest tobacco company in the world. During World War I, the U.S. government bought most, if not all, Bull Durham Tobacco to send to the war effort.
Bull Durham salesmen went around the country scouting places to place the advertisements. The advertising and marketing for Bull Durham Tobacco was second to none. The signs were found on the outfield fences of most major and minor league baseball stadiums.
We still find old faded Bull Durham advertising signs in many of the towns we travel through today. Often they are on a building that had other advertising signs painted over and around them.
After getting enough pictures of the sign, in case something happens to it before we return, we continued down Main Street to the old drugstore to get some pictures of the entrance and the old Kool decal on the door.
We made a circle through town, but didn’t see anything else that we had missed on our prior trip. I guess sometimes the Universe just knows, and gives you a kick in the pants. Next time we’ll have to trust this sort of “sign” and go with it.
If you get a feeling about something, go with it! You never know what great thing the Universe is trying to share with you.