There must have been a time when the familiar script handwritten signature of Charles H. Fletcher stuck fear in the hearts of crumb crunchers everywhere. Fletcher began selling his Castoria, a mild stomach remedy for children, in 1871. (You’ll recall that in the Little Rascals features, the gang was always threatened with castor oil for minor stomach aches.) The medicine was heavily promoted on ads and billboards in the late 1800s and early part of the 20th Century, and evidently the paint used for the ads was of a very high grade, because several ads survive to this day all over town. Even by the Swinging Sixties, Castoria was still a major presence in radio and TV ads.
I have photographed this Castoria ad with Fletcher’s signature before (1998, to be exact, since it turns up on the aforelinked page) but FNY correspondent Gary Fonville snapped a fresh image this week. The paint is minimally faded, but still legible. There had been an additional “faded ad” above it, but a vinyl sign for Quinn’s Bar & Grill, which occupies the bottom floor, has covered it over. You’ll notice the de rigueur typo in the ad.