Memoirs of a Toledo Childhood: The Art of Lettering

"Memoirs of a Toledo Childhood" follows the recollections and reflections of Michael Murray, a Toledoan born in 1944 and raised in the South Side. These snippets of childhood from the previous generation, released as moments rather than a chronological timeline, remind us of what once was and the experiences and legacies that built our present. The excerpts are adapted from Murray's Memoir of a Toledoan and are released with permission of the author.

Photograph courtesy of Michael Murray.

My first job as a sign painter was at Wally Sign Company when I was fifteen years old. I started out as the shop boy, sweeping floors and doing general cleanup for $1.10 an hour. I learned the art of layout, color, hand lettering, silk screening, gold-leaf lettering, billboards and walls. I had many memorable, fun times working with Wally. My favorite day would be a warm summer day when we would letter a billboard or wall outside. T-shirt, shorts, and boots. We preferred to start early in the morning with the goal of lettering the billboard in one day.


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