"Before the advent of vinyl, a sign painter was an interloper in every strata of society-and I mean that literally. One day you'd be on your knees lettering an industrial roll-up door with the words tow away and the next day you'd be on the thirty-fourth floor of a bank's headquarters painting gold leaf. Every strata of society valued your skill. It was phenomenal. As I was learning to paint signs, guys who were my age or a little older were retiring and gave me a lot of invaluable tips."