Yusay used this red oval logo throughout the year, but the addition of holly and ribbon makes this quite rare. Only five of these are known to exist at this time.
Streetcar Sign Find and the
amazing story behind it!
By John Warnik, Chicagobreweriana.com
Back in the Fall of 2019, I was browsing on the LetGo App when I found an unusual Yusay Pilsen Beer sign listed for sale. It looked rather small at first, but upon seeing it, it was nearly four feet wide!
The seller told me there might be more of them. Music to my ears! We stayed in touch, and a month or so later I stuck gold again.
When “Gary” and I met up again, I was expecting he would bring me one or two more, but he showed up with seven more signs! Within this trove were three different Yusay signs including several like the red one above. One was automotive advertising. Where did all these come from? How old were they and how were they used?
The most interesting sign of the lot is a one-of-a kind with a political theme. “Local Boy Welcomes Convention Delegates”. Notice the elephant and donkey. What convention? The answer came from the automotive sign at right. These are all from 1952-53!
The Yusay sign at left was used to welcome people attending the 1952 Republican National Convention, and the Democratic National Convention two weeks later, both held at The Chicago Amphitheatre in July of 1952. At the Republican Convention, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for president, Richard Nixon for vice president. These conventions were the first to be broadcast coast-to-coast on live TV. Ending the Korean War was a key to Ike’s platform.
Next question: Where were these signs used? Although very displayable and mostly intact ,each have a lot of grime and some had streaks indicating they had been exposed to bad weather outdoors. The answer came from a visit toThe Trolley Dodger web site. Yusay was advertised extensively on streetcars throughout the early 1950’s!
The last variety included in this hoard is the green variety at left. They were pretty rough and there were only two of them.
This amazing trove of signs was taken out of the family home on Chicago’s Southeast side. They had been used as wall covering. When a young marine returned from Korea in ’53 (?) he discovered a bedroom had been constructed for him in the attic of their home. Some family members worked for the railroad and must have gathered these signs for use as wall covering where they remained in the fall of 2019.
I’m currently restoring the red holiday themed signs at top left, and may be offering a few for sale or trade in the summer of 2020.