Living in an older house has its perks – typically well built, plenty of character, and if you’re lucky…treasures hidden in the attic! Last year the Traffic Sergeant for the Redford Twp Police Department, Duane Gregg, contacted us about some election signs he found while cleaning out his attic. Three beautiful posters and 2 very unique banners made their way to the Museum, albeit slightly water-damaged, curled, and dusty.
The set of banners, in remarkable shape, were unlike anything we had ever seen. The reflective material resembles vinyl (and may have been a dark reddish-orange originally, but faded over time). A closer look at the lettering reveals that this sign was hand-painted. Trimmed with red & army green canvas, complete with grommets, these banners were definitely made to hang outside.
After admiring these items, we knew this gentleman would be added to our research list so we could gather the history behind the signs. Lucky for us, Sgt Gregg was curious too and started looking for members of the Rice family. As you know, any good detective work starts with Facebook! A search for “Romaine Chapin Rice” resulted in a post by his daughter, Madeline, thanking him for his military service. Honestly, how many people with that name are in existence? It was a solid lead.
Madeline’s Facebook profile noted that she was the Co-founder of Tom’s Donuts in Angola, Indiana. When Sgt Gregg called the shop, he spoke with Madeline’s son, Shane, who currently runs the shop, and was able to connect the two. Is it a coincidence that a police officer just happened to stumble upon election signs in his attic and the descendants of the gentleman named on the signs happen to own a doughnut shop? The universe has a great sense of humor.
More research and several months later, we were ready for a road trip to meet Madeline and find out more about her parents, who were both well-known members of the community.
Part 2 – Mr. Rice
Part 3 – Mrs. Rice
*Bonus material* Check out this interesting article on the revival of the hand-painted-sign industry.