It’s hard to imagine another Hudson County town with more signs of its bygone days—literally. Many of Bayonne’s vintage signs—neon, painted, apron, or hanging—might soon be vanishing into whatever happy hunting ground is set aside for classic signage.
Alice Lotosky and Priscilla Ege are local experts on the subject. They conduct a program of walking tours of the town’s architectural sites. The program was once known as the PealCollection. Now the duo go by the name of “The Pearl Girls.”
“We know we can’t save all the signs except by photographs,” Lotosky says. She affectionately calls painted wall signs “ghost” signs. “We call them ghost signs because they fade away over the years into a very ghostly, sometimes almost invisible sight,” she says. “A good rainfall sometimes brings them back to life.”
She says, “Some of the signs are no longer there due to the destruction of the building or the covering up of the ghost signs, but I believe all the hanging signs are still there and some of the ‘apron’ signs at store entrances.”
These signs “are and were a very important part of Bayonne’s history,” Lotosky says, “mostly that of the once-thriving businesses that flourished in the midtown shopping district.”—Kate Rounds