LIFE IN A MOUNTAIN TOWN: Truckee’s signs of the times
Some signs posted around town show that we are able to poke fun at ourselves. Others paint a picture of Truckee as perhaps somewhat interesting or even slightly funny, depending on how you look at things.
If you look closely at some of the signs hanging along Commercial Row, you may notice that some of our downtown merchants have a definite tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. For instance, on the door at Truckee Realty, they don’t have a sign that says closed. Instead their “closed” sign says “Gone Fishin’.”
On both sides of the Tourist Club sign, in small print it reads “Free Beer Tomorrow.” Obviously that addition to the bar’s sign gives someone a chuckle.
And the bathroom door at the Squeeze In says “Either Or.”
At the downtown post office, they used to have signs that said “push” and “pull” on the doors. But the doors for years have swung in either direction. Maneuvering through these doors with an armload of mail can become a risky guessing game when there is a person headed in at the same time as you’re headed out. I’ve noticed that the push and pull signs have been removed so someone else must have figured out that signs trying to direct foot traffic were useless when the doors actually swing both ways.
Then there’s the sign at the movie theater which changes every week on Friday as a new movie starts playing. As we drive by the theater on Friday mornings, my children will read out loud to the rest of us in the car, as if announcing what’s playing. An example from a recent week would be “The Grinch Now Hiring.”
This same movie theater sign used to always have a few missing letters, so if you weren’t informed about the latest movies being shown in theaters, you might really be guessing at what was playing. But it seems like in the past year or so the owners must have ordered a new set of letters because missing letters don’t seem to be a problem anymore.
Another case of missing letters occurs over at Pizza Shack where they advertise “Breakfa.” Maybe some kids stole the “s” and the “t.” Or maybe they just need to order a new set of letters too.
Another sign one of my kids noticed and read out loud recently while we were waiting at a stoplight was one taped to the rear cab windshield of a Blue Sky Construction truck. It says simply “Help Wanted,” and their phone number. Now is this a sign of our local worker shortage or what?
When it comes to the schools there is the sign on the building of Truckee Elementary that reads Truckee School. That seems wrong to me. Where’s the Elementary? Nobody that I know calls Truckee Elementary, Truckee School. Perhaps at one time it was called Truckee School. And with the school district’s tight budget, maybe they can’t afford to correct that. I can understand how that would not be high on a spending priority list, but maybe after the Measure C bond money is spent to upgrade the school, they will also spring for a correct sign identifying its true name.
I’ve also noticed signs placed at the entrances to the high school that read: “Blue Indicates Freezing Temperatures.” Then there is a small blue dial below it. Since it’s December, the small dial below the sign has been blue every time I’ve passed it. I would guess that it turns another color when it’s warmer. I haven’t figured out if these signs were set there as a science experiment, or if their purpose is to serve as a black ice warning to teenage drivers. If the latter is the case, we could use some more of those around town.
We also have the unique roadway signs that are turned to face traffic when chain control is in place, and turned sideways when they aren’t needed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen swinging signs anywhere else.
And we have the sign warning motorists about how traffic from the right doesn’t stop at the three-way stop downtown. These signs are bent and mangled and have probably been hit by passing vehicles more than they’ve been read and understood.
I love all those forest service signs that are placed at the entrance to our different subdivisions that replicate school children’s artwork touting Smokey the Bear’s messages about defensible space and how forest fires kill our trees and wildlife.
I guess I like all the signs I’ve mentioned, because besides giving our town some character, it makes me like this place just a little bit more.
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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