I almost ran off the road laughing when I first saw it: HOO RAH FOR BILL is back!
Not the paint-on-plywood original, of course. That was removed and destroyed on orders of the Tisbury building and zoning inspector in April 2011. He was responding, he claimed, to complaints received in the previous 12 to 14 months.
The sign went up in the summer of 1998, around the time President Bill Clinton arrived on the Vineyard for another presidential vacation. Washington and most of the rest of the country was in a tizzy over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It was the brainchild of Craig Kingsbury, farmer and indisputable island character, who signed it with his first name.
Some people loved it. Others loathed it. Others felt queasy about it. As time passed, the loathing and the queasiness diminished. Subsequent doings in Washington and elsewhere put Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes in perspective. Craig died in 2002. HOO RAH FOR BILL reminded us of Craig — and of a time when characters thrived and signs didn’t have to be vetted by conservation commissions, historic district commissions, and small-minded building and zoning inspectors.
Then it disappeared. No one in the Kingsbury family was notified. By the time Craig’s daughter Kristen tracked it down, it had been destroyed.
It had taken almost a dozen years for complaints to reach the building and zoning inspector’s ears, and for him to realize that the sign “provided no useful information, is considered a blight on the landscape . . . is in violation of local and state law and should be immediately removed.”
Whereupon he of course had to act immediately. Without letting Craig’s family know what he was doing. Of course.
Not long afterward, a small reminder appeared on the mailbox under which the sign had hung.
And now HOO RAH FOR BILL is back in large letters.
I never took a photo of the original sign. I thought it would be there forever. I’m wiser now.
For a brief history of the sign, see the Vineyard Gazette story “Alas, Hoo Rah” (posted June 27, 2011). Read the comments too.