Highway signs are going up and then either coming down or being defaced at the end of every campaign season. Typically, it is graffiti or just removing the sign. It is being done by partisans of both major parties, and a spin around the blogosphere will reveal heartfelt accounts of sign atrocities. This practice is as wrong as can be, and should not be done or condoned by either party. But in these days of massive sign wars, and attendant sign destruction, the synapses clicked and reminded me of the most impressive example of sign destruction I have ever seen.
The events linger with me, because all the signs that came down were signs I put up.
It was 1983, and I was working with Don Kidwell. Don, a Republican, was running for reelection as Woodbridge Supervisor to the Prince William BOCS. He was terribly frugal, but wanted to do something different with his road signs. The campaign purchased 50 pieces of 4’x8′ plywood (sold to us at discount by Don’s supervisor colleague Joe Reading of Yorkshire), a spray gun, and cans of paint in each of three colors-red, white, and blue. One hot August afternoon a group of volunteers cut those sheets into quarters, giving us 200 2’x4′ pieces. We spray painted each one white, and after it dried used a stencil to paint “Re-Elect Don Kidwell Woodbridge Supervisor”, with the name in red and the rest in blue.
Yes, the money he spent on wood, paint, etc, plus the man-hours of construction, etc.,
The signs looked really good, but I wondered what we were going to secure them with. Don had an original idea. He had checked with the necessary parties to be sure his idea was OK, and we went out attaching these signs to telephone polls up and throughout Woodbridge. The unusual factor was that all were attached at least 10 feet off the ground. One person would stand on top of Don’s old Suburban, another would hand up a sign, and the first person would use a screw gun or a nail gun to attach the sign.
So-we had original looking signs, high up in the air so they were easy to see, and likely so high no one would try to take them down.
Don goes on to win reelection, and after a day of rest we head out to take down the signs, knowing a lot of climbing would be involved.
Seems we were wrong. While there were several signs stapled to the same polls we had put signs on, all of our signs were gone. All the signs that remained were for a variety of Democratic candidates that year…but those Kidwell signs, attached ten feet or more up the poll, attached with nail and screw to ensure they could up to bad weather…all were down. We had a mild fall that year, so weather likely was not the culprit. We had the OK to hang the signs, with the proviso we take them down shortly after the election, so owner permission was not a problem.
Yet the signs came down-and I think the means by which that happened if fairly obvious. But to this day I have seen no sign destruction that measures up to that systematic, energetic, and determined to tear down candidate signs. You may think you have seen sign destruction, but I have been to the top of the telephone poll, and I assure you it ain’t nothing compared to whomever took down all those signs in Woodbridge in 1983.