|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - February 2009
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Bright & Early sign designs earn fame
Polk County Enterprise - February 2009
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. 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 Tussel 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 of Lufkin is the author of 40 books about East Texas history and folklore. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com.