January 19, 2013

Searching For A Sign From 'Clem'

Searching For A Sign From 'Clem'

My blog Raining Iguanas is about self expression. Are you who you want to be? Many die never realizing their dreams. Many never even define them. Many live entire lives searching for the answer to one simple question. Who am I? The title above encapsulates that question. Come along for the ride. You may recognize the scenery. 

I can't with any precision determine when I first encountered sign painter Walter Clements. I know it was in the late seventies. As a young father I was handed the opportunity to purchase a milk business named Price's Dairy. It was in those early days of carving out a living for my growing family that the true search may have begun. I had a truck, a milk truck. It was in need of a new breath of life. It needed a fresh sign-a sign from 'Clem'. And so the journey begins; me, a young father with aspirations of being a successful business owner putting food on the table with his own hands.  Young hands with missing parts and fresh calluses. A sign painter with a love of a sip of something stronger than water. You take the two and add a city in the midst of redefining its own hopes and dreams and you have a story. 

Looking back now I'm sure I had crossed the path of Mr. Clements long before I approached him for his talents. Because I can't recall a specific instance, I will begin with the day I asked him if he still did sign work. At that time 'Clem' was deep into retirement age and working piece meal for a local plumber.  At least that is my recollection. After all this was over thirty years ago and the plumber has since passed away. I recall Clem frequenting a watering hole named The Turf. It's likely that's where Clem and I met for the first time.
This need to find a sign from Clem has been following me around for years and I can't tell you why. It seems as though it goes back to my child hood when I first saw that simple little signature beneath one of his local signs. It was such a simple little signature. But now as I think about it I realize that sign painters don't normally sign their work, but artists do. It may have been an advertising brand but I couldn't help but think it was more of a pride-in-my-work statement by Clem.
The more I thought about the vein of this piece the more I realized it was more about my own yearning for artistic expression. I may be romanticizing the story but I haven't been able to shake the desire to pursue it to see where it takes me. My hope is to discover some buried treasures along the way and maybe some buried treasures within. If you've ever been tickled by something unknown you may want to stick around. 

Clem's Last Price's Dairy  Sign 
(circa. 1984)
Walter Clements always signed his work in the bottom right hand corner "Clem Signs." My hope is to search the city of Saratoga Springs for any remaining signs of Mr. Clements. I want to document the search and the stories it brings. If you know of anyone who can help me in my search for a sign from Clem please send them my way. This is going to be fun.


  1. I'm all ears (eyes)! I'm on the edge of my seat watching this story unfold. Diane

  2. An artist making a living, perhaps? Maybe there are other types of work out there by Clem. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  3. Can't wait to read more. What a fun adventure you are embarking on!

  4. Not sure if you are familiar with the Fulton History newspaper site but a quick search found this article (sorry for the ridiculous URL):


    That appears to be the man you seek painting in the photo.

    1. Mr. Puliafico, your link was an inspiration injection that will fuel my project to the next level. I can't thank you enough for this link. You are 100% correct, the photo in the upper right is definitely Walter 'Clem' Clements. You have no idea how excited I was when I opened that link.