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    Bright and Early Coffee and Tea

    by Bob Bowman
    Bob Bowman
    Once upon a time, Bright & Early Coffee and Tea signs, usually painted on the sides of barns and country stores, could be found in most Southern states, including Texas.

    Today, finding a Bright & Early sign is as hard to find as a Model-T Ford. Both have vanished from the American landscape.

    The only Bright & Early sign I know of in East Texas is painted on the side of a small grocery store in the crossroads settlement of Bugscuffle beside Highway 84, a few miles west of Mount Enterprise in Rusk County.
    Bright and Early Coffee and Tea ghost sign,  Bugscuffle, Texas
    One of the few Bright & Early signs is found on the site of an abandoned store in the community of Bugscuffle, east of Mount Enterprise in Rusk County. Photo courtesy Bob Bowman.
    Admittedly, I may have missed others, and I will probably get some telephone calls or e-mail messages about other Bright & Early signs. At least, I hope so.

    The store at Bugscuffle closed years ago and the faded Bright & Early sign is almost obscured by trees, vines and bushes. But people regularly stop and shoot photographs of the sign.

    Incidentally, there are a lot of small Texas communities named Bugscuffle. Some of them are often confused with Bug Tussle in Fannin County.

    Ancel Nunn, a remarkable Palestine artist, made Bright & Early Coffee and Tea famous, but not for their taste.

    Nunn created a number of paintings of Bright & Early signs and, today, they’re cherished by art lovers.

    Another Bright & Early sign stood for years at Smithville in Bastrop County, but it wasn’t a real ad. It was painted for a movie, “Hope Floats,” which was filmed in the Smithville area.

    Movie makers often created fake signs as background movie sets, but they seldom lasted as long as the real signs did.

    I am told there were “real” Bright and Early signs on the sides of buildings at Hico, Hamilton County, in the Texas Hill Country, and at Junction in Kimble County.

    Bright & Early Coffee isn’t entirely dead. In the Heights area of Houston, there’s a Bright & Early Coffee stand, but I suspect it doesn’t serve the original brand, but something more akin to Star Bucks.

    And I doubt they serve Bright and Early Tea.


    © Bob Bowman
    February 16, 2009 Column
    More Bob Bowman's East Texas>
    A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

    Forum: My Grandfather and Father painted those signs >
    More Bright & Early Coffee and Tea signs >
    More Texas Ghost Signs | Texas Food | East Texas | Columns
    Forum:
    Subject: Bright and Early Signs
    I recently found and read Mr. Bowman's short article on the Bright and Early Signs. My Grandfather and Father painted those signs all over the place and I even traveled short distances out of Houston to watch them and clean brushes at the ripe age of about 6 or 7. We even did some with the chicken on them. I had Dad do a reproduction in about 2001 just before he passed away.... It might still be hanging on the garage in Austin? I have some Bright and Early coffee tins and jars with coffee still in them but can't seem to find anyone that knows much about their collectability.

    If you look down in the lower right hand corner of the original signs you will find the name of Dallas Ford, which stood for both Dad and Granddad. I too am A Dallas Ford. Thanks for the article. - November 21, 2011
    Cooper, Tx -  Bright And Early Coffee and  tea, painted  wall mural
    "Bright and Early Coffee and Tea" sign in Cooper
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2009
    Spearman TX Bright and Early ghost sign
    Bright & Early sign in Spearman, Texas.
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2008
    Bright and Early Coffee and Texas ghost sign, Hico Texas
    "Bright and Early Coffee and Tea" sign in Hico
    Photo courtesy historictexas.net, September 2005
    Robert Lee Tx Bright And Early Sign
    "Bright and Early Coffee and Tea" in Robert Lee
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2009
    (Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

    More Columns by Bob Bowman
    Bob Bowman's East Texas >
    "All Things Historical" archive >

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    The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
    By Bob and Doris Bowman
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