October License Plate Report

October is a boring month in the license plate game. A reliable nothing-burger. How reliable? Well, from 2012 through 2019 the only year anything new showed up in October was 2016: the sighting was Montana.

Which makes this October even more stupendous. Look at the scrawl at the bottom of the map: Mississippi and Alaska are #45 and #46 for the year. Mississippi is arguably one of the three hardest-to-spot states, and Alaska isn’t far from the top five.

Could those numbers be significant? 45 is the number of the current U.S. president, and also his undisputed ranking if U.S. presidents are listed in order of competence. The guy who, gods and voters and everyone fighting vote suppression willing, will serve 45’s eviction notice this week will be 46.

Even if the numbers are just the numbers, this is pretty amazing.

I’m not 100% sure where I spotted Mississippi. I think it was at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, in the small lot just off Eastville Ave. that hosts a remarkable variety of plates considering its size. I still pass through it from time to time, although I hadn’t seen anything new there in months. Until, well — Mississippi.

I remember exactly where I spotted Alaska: downtown Edgartown. I was driving, which I try to avoid doing in downtown Edgartown because it’s a maze of one-way streets that seem determined to keep you from getting to wherever you’re going. However, I was picking up yard signs from a friend’s house and I didn’t feel like walking several blocks with signs in hand. At last I found the house. Then, after making a left turn out of my friend’s street onto North Water Street, I found myself behind an SUV with a plate I didn’t immediately recognize.


The SUV’s driver seemed unclear about where he was going; I say this because he looked as bewildered as I had about 10 minutes before. My hunch is that he was looking for the Chappy ferry line, but that’s just a guess.

It turned out that the signs I was supposed to pick up were actually at the airport, but did I begrudge the 20 minutes I spent trying to get to my friend’s house? I did not.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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