After returning from service in WWII, Lind thought up a way to make his Boise service station famous. He scattered humorous signs all over southern Idaho to perk up drivers bored with many miles of sagebrush. One side advertised his growing number of Stinker Stations, while the other side offered humor, such as, in a field of lava rock (melon gravel left over from the Bonneville Flood), “Petrified watermelon. Take one home to your mother-in-law.”
During an Ad Club luncheon in Boise in 1948, Lind told about his three pet skunks, Cleo, Theo, and B.O., and how often people told him they had pet skunks when they were kids, which led Lind to postulate that 80 percent of Boiseans had pet skunks at one time. He told stories about people who would stop in to talk about his signs, often bringing one of those petrified watermelons to him. One of his favorites was a sign that said “No fishing within 400 yards.” It was placed miles from any drop of water. Lind said people would stop a ways down the road, turn around, and take another look. One guy allegedly walked half a mile down a dry wash looking for fishing country.
Lind got into the humorous sign business almost by accident. In 1946, with the war behind him, he tried to buy exterior plywood to advertise his service station, but only interior plywood was available. That meant both sides had to be painted to preserve the wood. Lind was quoted in the Idaho Statesman, saying, “As long as the back side of the sign was painted, I got the idea of putting humor or curiosity catching remarks on the back side”.
Some of those remarks include:
"Lava is free. Make your own soap."
"This area is for the birds. It's fowl territory."
"Nudist area. (Keep your eyes on the road.)"
"Sheep herders headed for town have right of way."
"For a fast pickup, pass a state patrolman."
At one time, there were about 150 Stinker Station signs between Green River, Wyoming and Jordan Valley, Oregon. Farris Lind came up with the humor for every one of them.
Lind contracted polio in 1963. He continued to run his company from an iron lung after that, never losing his trademark sense of humor.
He got a few complaints about his signs. Several people didn’t cotton to his sign outside of Salt Lake City that declared “Salt Lake City is full of lonely, beautiful women.” To avoid offending anyone, he had the word “lonely” removed. A similar sign about the women near Glenns Ferry prompted someone to scrawl “Where?” across it.
One of my personal favorites is still standing near Beeches Corner in Idaho Falls. It says, “Warning to tourists: Do not laugh at the natives.” About a billion years ago I was riding in a car with a fellow ten-year-old, he saw the sign and turned to me in wonder saying, “Are there NATIVES around here!?”
Fearless Farris Lind passed away in 1983. My new book about Farris Lind is called Fearless. Join me at the launch party on May 2, 7 pm at Rediscovered Books in Boise, if you can.
#Fearless #fearlessfarris #farrislind #stinkerstations