Bumper stickers express local personalities
Several years ago, a friend of mine suggested to me that I identify my vehicle with a local bumper sticker, so that she could more easily recognize me around town.
It always seems that no matter what vehicle I am driving, there are many others of the same variety in town. About 10 years ago I had a white Jeep. There were several dozen of these at the time. Then I had a white Subaru. There was a whole army of these. Now I have a white Toyota, which is slightly less prevalent. Still, I see a handful of others driving the exact same model and color around town from time to time.
Eventually I decided that maybe I did need some kind of designation on my car. When my kids came home with one of those oval green Alpine Meadows stickers during a year when they participated in that resort’s Sunday local kids’ program, I acquiesced. The Alpine Meadows bumper sticker seemed a better fit for me than a “Keep Tahoe Blue” sticker, because while I had received several of these in the mail over the years, from the League to Save Lake Tahoe asking for a donation, I had never sent them any money. To me, it didn’t seem appropriate to slap one of those stickers on my car. Why I hold such stringent standards for myself I don’t know. From the hundreds of other “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers seen everywhere, others don’t seem to have such scruples.
During a Fourth of July parade here in Truckee several years back, locals affiliated with the new town government walked along the parade route handing out “Keep Truckee Green” bumper stickers. These stickers borrowed the same theme from the “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers, but instead of including a picture of a lake, they chose to put three arrows following each other in a triangle, representing the idea of recycling. I don’t know if these stickers are still available at town hall, but I do see them as another local’s emblem that some people choose to display on their cars. Other people, I’ve noticed, cut off the recycling part, for some reason.
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There are several other spin-offs of the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper sticker out there. Lately, a new version has appeared that says “Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue.” On these, the shape of Lake Tahoe is made to look like the American flag. There’s also a purple “Keep Tahoe Well” sticker with a yin yang sign within the outline of Lake Tahoe. This sticker has very fine print advertising who makes these available. Because of this, I’ve been unable to verify where these stickers come from because while driving, I need to keep my eyes on the road, not on the fine print of bumper stickers.
Then there is the “Drink Tahoe Red” bumper sticker D a succinct statement instructing us to drink local beer, even if it is brewed in Berkeley. According to my unofficial tally, I believe this is it for officially printed knock-offs of the original “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper sticker.
It’s the homemade, corrupted versions of the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers that seem to be cropping up more and more. I’ve seen a few that ring of anti-tourism such as “Leave Tahoe, Expletive” and also “Stay at the Bay.” Those aren’t very friendly.
Parked outside of the Bar of America on a snowy night recently I saw a Nissan plastered with bumper stickers which included two corrupted “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers which read “Tie Your Shoes” and “Keep Your Shoes Tied.” I guess these make sense to someone. I also saw a few vehicles parked outside of Porter’s with, once again, the “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers that had experienced some doctoring with a pair of scissors. One said simply “Chilly Water.” The other proclaimed “Kitus! Theatre.”
It’s a known fact in my family that lately, I have been mentally collecting all the varieties of local bumper stickers that are out there, and that I especially get a kick out of these newly appearing corrupted versions of the original “Keep Tahoe Blue.” This being the case, a friend of my daughter told me that our neighbor has a “Keep Tahoe Blue” sticker on their filing cabinet that has been changed to read, “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
This gets me wondering just how people go about making these homemade versions. How many “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers does it take to make one homemade version? Who has time to engage in this kind of idle endeavor? Whoever they are, they add humor to my day as I drive around town, which is something I seem to spend a lot of time doing.
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981. Her column “Life In Our Mountain Town” appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.
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