Silly School Signs of Corvallis

Fact: words matter. And if you’re interested in some observational evidence, as well as some entertainment, just sit at a few select corners in town and watch folks who are new to the area attempt to interpret the local street signs. Does “Wait, aww crap, that’s not what the sign… but I thought” sound familiar? I thought so. While this may not be a battle we’re ever going to win, it is, at least, one we can have a good laugh at.

To save space on signboards, Corvallis could use a few more ingenious conglomerations of stackable signs. In the town where I attended high school, there was a karate studio, a New York-themed bagel shop, and a ballet, ballroom, tap, and jazz dance studio. The sign out front read “Karate – Bagels – Dance.” In a different town I lived in, one strip mall sported another winner that read “Subway – Tattoos – For lease.” That third shop on the end was eventually rented out to a skate shop just as the tattoo parlor vacated. Anyway, enough nostalgia, here are just a few staff-selected Corvallis favorites:

Ninth Street and Conifer Boulevard – Stop. But not you, right-turners, you know – proceed without stopping. Not pictured: the straightaway bike lane merging left immediately before reaching this sign, designed in such a manner as to bring about the greatest degree of havoc to all directions of travel. On that note, can we get Corvallis a few more non-motorized-vehicle-only paths, please? Confused persons of all modes of travel, plus several visually obstructed lanes of oncoming traffic, and a whole lot of people trying to make it either in or out of town – check. This would seem to be an adequately stressful combination, but with this one little addendum to a regular old run-of-the-mill stop sign, and presto: chaos. At least this one is conveniently located near a hospital.

School Zones – Corvallis has seen some marked signage improvement in recent days. Most of the local school zone signs out there carry the caveat, “School Days – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.” Some don’t. Dimorphism isn’t a great trait in signage. Games of which-one-is-not-like-the-other-one shouldn’t ever be played with street signs, especially in school zones. So be warned, ye wayward travelers and newcomers to our town, more obvious “when flashing,” as well as radar-enabled maritime signaling strobes, and the less easily recognizable “when children are present” signs also dot our local landscape. A list of terms and conditions with details of participating locations may usually be found in 18-point font beneath many of these signs.

Presidential Street Names – Many of Corvallis’ streets that go right and left on the map have a lot in common with U.S. presidents, with a handful of exceptions, omissions, and oddities. Presidents John Quincy Adams, Warren G. Harding, and a handful of others, particularly within the last century or so, are not represented on pavement. Lincoln is broken up over little bits of courts and avenues. Johnson Avenue is a little too far south for having been Lincoln’s vice president. There is a Wilson Lane in Corvallis… Montana. Besides, Wilson, Hoover, and a handful of other presidents also have their names on schools here in town.

Newly Remodeled Pets Welcome – Was this offer rescinded, or did somebody out there steal this whole series of apartment rental signs? My dog has recently been detailed, but is not newer than five years. That and we’ve been looking for something pet-friendly, and with more than one bathroom. It’s great to see more places around Corvallis open to renters with pets, but vertebrate refurbishment may be a prohibitive up-front cost that may dissuade many would-be renters.

Circle Boulevard’s Dead End at Witham Hill Drive – It’s all downhill from here, folks. Maybe not what you were expecting, but everything’s got to wrap up somewhere. This seemed about as good a place as any. Turn your lights on. Put your phone down. Think dangerously.

By Matthew Hunt