Street Sign Down… Again!

Apr 7, 2013 | 2 comments

Sign of the TimesLiving in a village scaled to nineteenth century sensibilities can be a problem.  Take the simple matter of street signs.  We don’t have many – fewer than half a dozen – but the one nearest our house seems to be on Nyel’s workbench awaiting repair almost as frequently as it’s in place at the corner of Clay Street and Territory Road.

Like the other signs that mark the grassy lanes of the village, the Clay Street sign was made by John Hampson in the late 1980s.  Before that, there hadn’t been street signs in Oysterville.  There just aren’t that many streets!  Or people, for that matter.  Everyone (that is everyone who mattered) knew where everyone lived and mail went to the post office.  Street names weren’t really necessary,

But, when the Hampsons built their house just north of us in 1987, one of its features was a semi-detached wood shop for John.  It was his dream, once he retired as a psychiatrist,  to spend his leisure hours in creative pursuits in his shop.  There he designed and made the street signs for Oysterville’s streets.

Though some of the village residents didn’t really see the point and thought them a part of an unneeded ‘gentrification’ process, the signs were placed strategically at the corners of the appropriate streets.  They looked quaint and in keeping with the town’s status as a National Historic District.

It was about the same time period, however, that tourism to Oysterville began to increase – also due to its popularity as a ‘heritage destination.’ People came by the score to walk the (now) conveniently marked streets and admire the village ambiance – ten to twenty thousand visitors a year, according to the guest register at the church.

They arrive by bicycle, motorcycle, automobile, RV and tour bus and they usually park along the very narrow verge opposite the church.   It’s the RVs that seem to have the problem with our Clay Street sign.  As they back up, presumably to better situate themselves, those huge vehicles often gravitate directly toward the sign…  with predictable results.

I wonder if the occupants of those gigantic RVs even know they’ve crunched into something.  Certainly no one has ever knocked at any nearby doors to report such an accident.  I’ve never driven an RV so I don’t know the pitfalls.  Perhaps there are blind spots.  More likely it’s operator error.  As far as I know, the tour buses (which are often far larger) have never caused any damage, but then their drivers are professionals…

Unfortunately, the Hampsons died some years back, the house was sold, and the wood shop has been converted to other uses.  For now, the Clay Street sign repair seems to be another of Nyel’s ‘inherited’ positions and we talk with the neighbors about where we might safely re-locate it.  Such is the way of things in Oysterville.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Sadly, by the time most Americans can afford an RV and have the time to go somewhere with them, their peak driving years are behind them. Some can barely see above the steering wheel.

  2. Caroline Miller

    Lovely piece of history, Sydney. Thanks for sharing.


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