Many people probably remember the restaurant in North Versailles, Pennsylvania which used its business sign to get some political messages across to the public, particularly before, during, and after the 2008 Presidential election. Those messages made waves across the internet. While Lockport did not have signs like those, we did have signs that were very close to the heart.
Last year when our friend, George, was feeling under the weather, our friends at the Transit Drive-In had a special message for George on the marquee. The new, digital marquee at the Palace Theatre sends the public special messages, whether it’s about a Code Blue, or honoring a member of the public. Then there was the billboard at the west end of the city where a concrete company asked if the wife needed new shoes. It was quickly removed after an uproar.
Probably the best sign of my formative years was the sign at the Best Western (or whatever name they went by at various times) on Transit. For years and a small fee, perfect strangers could celebrate Scott and Donna’s marriage, or help welcome a baby to those people you never met. It was almost like a rite of passage in Lockport to get your name on the sign. In some cases, your birth could have been announced on the sign, and then your nuptials.
A few years ago, when it became a Holiday Inn, the old sign was removed and a new one was put in its place. The new sign was a simple hotel sign without any additional space for messages. An era had passed in Lockport. At first, because of that, I was upset with the change. However, as I dwelled on it further, I realized that the new sign was a professional look for the city as visitors arrived. And it was good.
The other sign that sticks in my mind is one that still entertains drivers as they pass by. I’m referring to the sign at Davison Road Square. Sometimes they advertise for an apartment for rent or a sale at one of the stores in the square. However, very often the public is treated to some of the most God-awful puns imaginable. And I love it.
The puns start on one side of the sign and are continued on the other. Of course that means I have to drive by it twice just to get the full message. That sign generates traffic for the square, and if you slow down for the sign, you just might stop in to visit one of the stores that you wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t slowed down in the first place.
Those puns crack me up everytime I see them. They aren’t great. They’re groan-worthy. But it shows that some people still have a sense of humor -- something that seems to be lacking more and more in modern society. Couldn’t we all use a few more laughs each day?
When we had the twins, my sister rented that big stork to stick in our front yard. I was surprised to see it when I came home from the hospital. So was Wendy. We still have the sign with the girl’s names on it in the back of their closet. Alas, the stork flew the coop after a couple days. But, it wouldn’t be the last time the stork visited our house.
Thankfully, I didn’t have one of those “Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s 40?!” signs stuck in my yard when I had my birthday. I would have had to hurt someone. Actually, since I planned my own surprise party for my 40th birthday, I would have had to hurt myself if it had shown up. I probably would have done it myself.
I loved seeing those old signs around the city, especially the one at the hotel. I wish there was more of a chance to see messages -- serious and hilarious -- around town. Not only do they give us a chance to be a part of the larger community, they also promote good news. How else can you laugh and honk for someone’s birthday -- someone you’ve never met?
Craig Bacon has seen certain signs in his yard that shouldn’t be there. They’re from dogs, if you know what I mean.