Return of Hoo Rah

I almost ran off the road laughing when I first saw it: HOO RAH FOR BILL is back!

hoo rah signNot 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.”

hoo rah mailboxWhereupon 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.

hoo rah sign & box

 

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About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has two blogs going on WordPress. "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories" is about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard. "Write Through It" is about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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7 Responses to Return of Hoo Rah

  1. David Whitmon says:

    Hmmm….. I can envision “Hoo Rah For Bill -Craig” signs everywhere

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  2. Helen Green says:

    I was glad to see the new sign on the mailbox and even happier to see the newer sign on the tree.
    The spirit of Craig’s original sign was something that made me think of my own father and how he would have liked it. How in the thick of it all, he put it in perspective.
    I loved it then and I love it even more now.

    Like

  3. Karen says:

    I love it! … so sad that they didn’t even consider his family when removing the sign. Mean, yes. There is no way with the sign’s history and the man who made it that they didn’t know that they were destroying a piece of his legacy for his family. I only wish more islanders put up a Hooray for Bill sign for at least a month or so, to show support for the family.

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    • Fortunately the Kingsburys are a feisty lot, witness the new sign. 🙂 We’ll see if it stays up there. The lag time between the hanging of the original sign and its removal — almost 13 years! — intrigues me. I’m guessing that someone took exception to the sign and instead of grumbling to their friends started bugging the town about it. So the town says they’ve received “complaints” but they don’t say that they all came from the same two or three very persistent people.

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