About the Colony

Atascadero needs a gimmick; here's an idea we can mimic

Special to The TribuneJanuary 6, 2014 

Lon Allan


I was sitting in a meeting several weeks ago where plans were put forward for a new freeway-oriented sign for Atascadero on the southern approach to the city.

A likely location is somewhere between San Diego or Santa Barbara roads. Many of you may remember there was one there for many years that even held those small service club emblems.

There is such a sign on the north end of the city, between Del Rio and San Anselmo roads. It is an attractive sign with lots of red brick and a replica of the historic City Administration Building.

It cost thousands of dollars.

But if they want a freeway sign to represent the community I would suggest that they take a creative lesson from the downtown area.

With that in mind, a freeway sign consisting of two metal fence stakes with a plastic banner reading, “Welcome to Atascadero” would pretty well match what visitors will encounter when they actually get to our inner core. To make the sign even more representative of the downtown, it would have to be posted in somebody’s landscaped backyard.

Atascadero does need a gimmick, which is why it is spending in excess of $100,000 to have a professional firm come up with something.

My wife and I were delighted with what they do in Cambria each October with the scarecrow contest. That event draws many visitors to Cambria. We need that kind of thinking here.

Seeing how Atascadero seems to be in love with the sandwich board sidewalk signs, I got to thinking about how we could use them along the freeway.

I remember when I was a child, my folks would drive Highway 99 from the San Joaquin Valley down to Southern California. Along the way we’d encounter those red signs, usually five or six of them close to the roadway, that had a four-line poem that always ended with “Burma Shave,” a popular shaving cream.

Here’s an example I found: “Cattle crossing / please drive slow / that old bull / is some cow’s beau / Burma Shave.” At one time there were 7,000 Burma Shave signs, and they made the shaving cream a household name.

So how about some great big sandwich board-shaped signs along our freeway frontage within the city limits adorned with clever little sayings that could be composed by local citizens, such as: “A marvelous town / just up yonder / you’ll find a lake / that’s now a goner,” or “There’s a nice little town / up the road a piece / but as you drive there / watch out for the geese.”

The plan might need some details worked out, but that’s why the city hires outside consultants, isn’t it?

Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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