While I was enjoying a Triple Lindy burrito with sour cream and cilantro for lunch yesterday, I started thinking about all the fun we had with signs during high school. Well, to be more precise… signs and cheap beer in unreasonable amounts.
Sounds kinda weird, huh? Well, allow me to explain.
Bill from WV and I went through a period in our drinking career, you see, when we drove around the Kanawha Valley looking for interesting street signs to pilfer. Most of the ones we snagged had some connection to music: Hendrix Avenue, 52nd Street, E Street, Costello Street, etc.
We had it down to a science. Once we identified our target the driver would pull alongside the pole, and the person in the passenger seat would jump out, climb up on the bumper, and rock the entire housing back and forth until it said fukkit. Usually we’d end up with two signs, going in opposite directions, and we’d have to dismantle the thing with a screwdriver.
During my entire stay in Greensboro I had a green Dunbar Avenue sign, obtained in this manner, hanging in my bedroom. Wonder what happened to that thing….?
After a while, though, the tiny signage didn’t do it for us anymore. It was just a gateway drug, and led to the theft of yield signs, speed limit signs, etc.
I remember one time we took an entire pole(!), with the signs still attached. After we stripped-off everything we wanted, Bill javelined the pole through the dining room window of an empty house in the neighborhood.
A year or so later, when the place was being renovated, we saw a worker carrying that thing out the front door, shaking his head in confusion. And we buckled-over in laughter.
One night we were out drinkin’ beer and stealin’ signage, and forgot one in the trunk of Bill’s parents’ car. His mother told his dad she was hearing a banging noise in the rear of the vehicle, and when he checked it out he found a Men At Work sign (or somesuch), in the trunk. The thing was massive, and Bill’s dad was not amused.
If we hadn’t committed that unfortunate tactical error, I have no doubt we would’ve soon graduated to interstate exit signs, and the like. Sure, we would’ve had to rent a flatbed truck, but that would’ve only been a minor hurdle.
We also had a brief flirtation with the moving around of election signs. We’d take Bill’s pickup around town, throw random campaign signs into the back, and set them up in the yards of our friends. Oh, we thought this was high comedy…
We heard, through my Dad, that the candidates were extremely upset, and blaming each other. We were causing a political incident! But did we stop? No, we did not. And we were eventually caught by the police.
There used to be a large vacant lot in the center of town (where Shoney’s now hosts their all-you-can-eat Gristle Bar), which was prime real estate for politicking. So one night, all cranked up on Miller High Life or whatever, we went there and started loading the bed of the truck again.
And the next thing we know… cops are all over us. Apparently they’d been watching from afar, and swooped in the moment they saw someone monkeying with the campaign materials. Bill, I remember, was running across the lot with a huge wooden sign hoisted above his head, like a hang glider.
The cops told us to sit on the curb, and shut our goddamn mouths. We’d polished off our share of beers during the evening, and started worrying we might be arrested for public drunkenness, or DUI, or something. So, to mask the smell of Miller, we each ate a handful of grass. Heh.
But they only asked a few questions, and let us go. They wanted to know if we were a couple of standard-issue dumbasses, or dumbasses-for-hire. “Are you doing this for someone else?” they demanded. And our confused expressions told them all they needed to know.
I remember they were going through the signs in Bill’s truck, and making a comment about each candidate. “Oh God, put that one back, she’ll raise nine kinds of hell…” and “Yeah, that’s just Ratman, lean it against that dumpster over there…”
We also went around town one evening, and collected a metric shitload of realtor signs — and put every one of them in Rocky‘s front yard. There were dozens of the things, from many different companies. I don’t know why that’s so funny, but it is. I’m laughing right now. I wish I had a picture of it.
During one of our sign-procurement expeditions, our friend Mike grabbed a flashing yellow light. It had been attached to a metal sawhorse, in front of some recent roadwork, and was larger than you might think.
Somehow we smuggled it into his bedroom; I think I passed it to him through a window. And that’s when things got really interesting…
His parents were in the living room watching TV, and we couldn’t get the flashing to stop. And that shit was bright! The bedroom door was closed, but there was an intermittent blast of yellow coming from underneath it. If his mom or dad went to the bathroom, it would be Game Over.
Mike put the ridiculous thing under the covers of his bed, but it didn’t help much. Every few seconds the whole platform would light-up. It was like some kind of weird art exhibit.
We couldn’t stop laughing: nervous laughter.
He hid it in a closet, way in the back behind the game of Life and Mousetrap, and that seemed to work best. But it still wasn’t ideal. When I walked home, a little later, the entire rear of their house was flashing yellow through the windows.
An old man was standing in his backyard, with a bag of trash in his hand, and said, “What’s going on over there?” And I just shrugged my shoulders and kept walking.
The whole thing was quite hilarious, and Mike’s parents weren’t overly pissed when he was busted minutes after my departure. I mean, it was inevitable. It’s very difficult, we learned, to conceal a freakin’ lighthouse beacon inside a suburban bedroom. It really is.
And sorry about yesterday… We sold the rolling box o’ beds, and it ended up dominating the day. We had to transfer the title, and all that crapola. Then the lights wouldn’t work when they were ready to leave. So, what should’ve required an hour, dragged out for most of the afternoon.
But hopefully this rare Friday update will make up for yesterday’s radio silence.
I probably won’t update again until Tuesday. I hope everybody has a great holiday. The weather here is perfect (perfect!), and I can foresee some meat being cooked out of doors, as well as a substantial number of beers disappearing. Yes, I can.
As for a Question… Did you ever get into the moving around of signs, or anything of the sort? Please tell me it wasn’t just us. Also, any plans for the big swollen holiday weekend? What kind of beer will you be enjoying?
See you guys next time!
Oh, and yes, you read that correctly: we ate grass.
Casey J says
Once stole the “Pizza Pizza” cardboard guy from Little Cesears Pizza..needless to say it was life size and pretty obvious pressed up against the back window of a camaro.
good, drunken times. 😉
Hat’s off to all Memorials out there.
I ended up with a stop sign….the details aren’t clear nor what my parents did with it..(can you recycle them at the township??)…I think not and will never ask!
Sam in Rochester says
That’s great, but we weren’t nearly that ambitious, we’d see a sign we wanted, “slide” off the road and run it over doing 15 or 20 mph. It worked good because we had a shit-ass Riviera that looked like a crumpled potato chip bag. We actually riveted a no parking sign to the hood where a hole had formed from “hood side competitions”. Later on we got into modifying signs after we got too lazy to steal them. We would make funny looking hats, canes, and tailed coats for the pedestrians in the pedestrian crossing sign. The town lost it after we modified a deer crossing sign so the deer’s “member” could plainly be see whizzing. There are still deer crossing signs in WV with the deer being ridden by Burning Man.
The Evil Twin says
As bored teenagers we would drive around town getting high almost every Friday and Saturday night, and we’d look for those signs that had the removeable letters on them. We’d spot one of them and then write down the phrase, then drive around and figure out how we could rearrange those letters into something disgusting and juevenile. One of the best ones was reworked by a couple of my friends – The Elk River Holiday Inn’s sign read “cheap sluts room 50′ for almost an entire day until someone alerted the staff and they changed it…
Hmm.. the best dumbass thievery I can come up with was this one time in college when “a group of us” decided it would be a good idea to liberate a computer terminal from a lab (gives you an idea of the time frame). My buddy was a world-class champion bullshitter – so when campus security arrived, the officers ended up HOLDING THE DOOR FOR US while we carried the thing out. Good times.
ND: Stone IPA
Dumbassery at work!: Last week I purchased a wireless router from linksys get the old home computer & laptop working together! Followed the instructions: didn’t work! called customer service & despite some communication problems with the guy in India got it working! next day internet connection not working ,back to India customer service girl gets angry because I am having difficulty understanding her! she hangs up! Try again, very helpful person, we work through the problems for 90mins & then I am told to hand over my credit card number for $9.99 before they will fix that which they sold me which does not work! Hmmmm! called the customer service line in the States & immediately reffered back to India! asked where I was calling (politely) told it was policy not to tell me where I was calling (WTF) O.K. dropped the dime, called Cisco in California & asked for the name & address of the head of customer service to explain my frustration: :we are not allowed to give out that information” Now I get it! obviously Cisco systems, when not exporting jobs offshore, has confused itself with the CIA! At least they are honest enough to say screw you America our products don’t work & you are going to have to pay for us to fix them anyway! If dumbassery was an Olympic Sport they get the gold!!!
Hammond X says
It’s too late now, but many years ago I discovered that there’s a little hole in the back (or bottom, I forget which) of the flashing yellow lights that enable a crafty vandal to turn them on or off with a nail or sturdy paper clip. On another note, we (the Veg Team) used to take the cement fire rings that were placed along the beach on Mission Bay in San Diego, and tip them on their sides and roll them into the water. Despite the fact that they weighed a whole group of pounds, they only rolled far enough to land on their sides, and vanish an inch or so under the water. As far as I know, we were the only ones to do this. 30 years later, I can say that we are responsible for the now square fire rings on Mission Bay. A proud vandal legacy was born.
Mr. Hanky says
Back in the 70’s there was a sign with movable letters located in that vacant lot in Dunbar that Jeff described as where Shoney’s is now. The sign would usually be for Art’s Flower Shop, a Dunbar establishment.
Someone would frequently change the letters around to read “Fart’s Lower Shop.” Could that person had been Jeff?
Pickles the Clown says
I worked at Arby’s in high school and there was a manager we all hated. One night my buddy Chris and I were out road drinking and decided to get every political sign we could find and put it in this guys front yard. We ended up putting 138 signs in asshole’s yard. He was bitching about it for days. I know the number because he counted and announced it at work. He knew it was one of us that did it and vowed he would find out who it was. Chris and I couldn’t take credit for risk of being fired. Then one Saturday durring a busy lunch rush this dickhead walks out and we never hear from him again. He left a note in the office with his keys saying he quit. The general manager said he thouhgt it had to do with the sign prank. Chris being a fame whore couldn’t hold it in any longer and let everyone know it was he and I who pulled the prank. Everyone including the other managers were thankful that we did it. I heard he joined the Navy and is still in now 15 years later.
A great tradition at my high school in Ol’ Kaintuck was senior prank day. It was a simple concept: every senior class was responsible for a prank on the entire school as we neared graduation.
For an entire year, my class collected every plastic pink flamingo yard art that we could find. They were stored at three locations so that if one got busted, the whole project wasn’t a loss. Fortunately, we never got busted.
Every damn pink flaminger (as grandpa would say) was purloined within a three county radius of my high school. We even crossed the mighty Ohio River into Cincinnati and its various redneck suburbs in search of the rare birds. Yes, rare. Our antics caused quite a stir in the local media after one homeowner complained that their prized plastic pals had been stolen three times.
In the wee hours of one morning, we set up them flamingers on the front lawn of Dixie Heights High School. About 2,000 of them by our reckoning. It was a sight both beautiful and terrifying. Best senior class prank ever in my opinion.
Ohyes, we had quite the bit of fun with signage. Some friends and I once stole two duck-crossing signs located on a pretty sharp curve near Oxford Valley Mall. We didn’t go for the take the pole down and figure the rest out on the ground, oh no. Myself and the other girl made a cheerleader-learned hand-basket, and hoisted the one male friend we’d conned into helping us up to unscrew the sign. If one of us noticed headlights we’d yell, and he’d jump down to the ground. After a couple cars stopped and asked if we needed help (we were on the side of a random road with our hazard lights on… geniuses we are not), I came up with a pretty bright idea. We’d gotten milkshakes from a take-out place earlier in the evening, and I advised the male friend to take a swig each time we saw a car headed our way, and to pretend to be vomitting if the car slowed down to see if we needed help. Worked like a charm! Cars would slow, and once they saw the creamy upchuck, accelerate like nobody’s business.
My friend and I still have the signs, years later. In retrospect, I hope we didn’t cause any duck deaths. If I had thought of that then I probably wouldn’t have agreed to the heist.
another Jeff - alienjeff says
Related: A Sign of the (Mad) Times
Not unless you count the cow crossing sign (yellow with a picture of a cow on it and shot with four or five bullets) that my roommate Angi and I had on our living room wall.
PA Mike says
My largest heist was a 3ft x 4ft metal “road closed”…not quite highway material but man that thing took up a half a wall in a small room.
My dumbest attmpted heist was a life size jeff gordon cardboard cutout from a one room bar. In the process of folding it in quarters and attmepting to stuff it down the front of my jacket, I was kindly escorted off the premises by one of the staff.
My Goal: in the middle of bumblefuck south jersey on a deserted road, there’s a random picnic table on the side of the road(must be the only manmade thing within 5 miles). Next to the table, metal signage reading “roadside table”.
deb in atlanta says
Never stole one, but I always wanted a photo of the Dead End sign in front of the funeral home in Cedar Grove, WV. Makes me LOL even now after all these years.
I dont know what the connection between HS band and stealing signs is but one time we were having summer practice, during lunch about 10 of us went to the local Mickey-D’s. While they were waiting on us hooligans, we ( yes we) managed to remove and roll up one of their 3X10 banners that they hang infront of the counter advertising whatever crap they were stuffing into the happy meals at that time. We also managed to get a taco bell table complete with swivel chairs. (the restaurant was being redone at the time no we didnt pull it up and then sneak out of the restaurant with it. but still a pretty good haul none the less!)