Thursday, June 16, 2005

Another Sign of the Past

I did some more research on this whole “Fun, Sun, Stay, Play” sign, and here is what I dug up. (Actually I just read Robert Price’s article from Sep. 19, 1999. Thanks Robert!)

The idea behind the sign came from business owners along Union Ave. who were worried about losing business once Hwy 99 was built. They pooled their money and hired an LA company to build first one sign and then two years later, another. Both were enormous, standing 49 feet tall and 60 feet wide.

When discussing the design of the sign, they first considered, “Eat, Rest, Gas, Play.” Realizing that the words "Eat" and "Gas" don't go well together they changed it again to "Eat, Rest, Swim, Play." Besides sounding horrible, someone on the legal staff pointed out that it was against the law. Government businesses are not allowed to promote private enterprise. Luckily someone (no one knows who) came up with the “Fun, Sun, Stay, Play” logo and the rest is history.

The first sign went up in 1966, and they were both torn down in 1983. People in town had grown to view the signs as “hokey” and they were not willing to continue to pay for the up keep. Plus there was the whole headache of keeping kids from climbing up there and switching the letters around to display their own, usually vulgar, message.

One person did want to see the signs saved, however, and that person was from LA. Jerry Simmons organized a short-lived statewide “Save Our Bakersfield Signs” preservation committee in 1983. Her efforts fell on deaf ears as the city was eager to unload the costly signs. Five people bid on the signs including Jim Burke, but it was Ken Jones, the president of Airport Bus who won. Jones intended to use the signs to advertise his business, but he never got his act together, and eventually the signs went the way of the scrap yard.

Darn it Buck! Where were you in “83? Asleep at the wheel?