SW Pueblo, Colo. via skateboard. Zipzinga!
A Ridiculous History of a Sign
The White Stag sign, as it’s known by locals, has undergone a series of entrepreneurial identities and designs since it was first conceived in September 1940 by Ramsay Signs. Merely an outline of Oregon encasing the text “White Satin Sugar” at first, the sign gained its infamous leaping stag in 1959 when White Stag Sportswear, occupant and owner of the building to which the sign is affixed, took over the advertising rights to it. This also marked the beginning of a holiday tradition in which a neon red bulb glows upon the snout of the stag.
After White Stag Sportswear left the building in 1973, the fate of the sign was in question. Who would foot the electricity bill to keep Portland’s most beloved sign lit? The landmark faced threats of being shut down or removed. Eventually the dispute was settled in 1997, with an agreement that the sign would undergo yet another franchise facelift, this time for the gift retailer Made In Oregon. But the Made In Oregon run was short lived, ending in 2006.
Ramsay Signs finally grew tired of funding the sign’s utility bill in 2008 and searched for a solution. More controversy came with the proposed advertising of the University of Oregon, whose Portland campus now occupies the building. But facing much heat, the university withdrew. Ramsay made final threats to decommission the sign in 2010, but this time the city and Ramsay came to an agreement, with Ramsay donating the sign and a $2,000 monthly utility payment to the city. For the first time in its 73 years, the White Stag sign no longer peddles any merchandise but simply reads, “Portland Oregon.”
Playing Horse with Ghosts of Rangers Past
The hoop lacks a net, but out here everything is minimal. A basketball net isn’t essential, it’s only real purpose is boosting the ego of shooters when the hit nothing but net. Out here, the only swish you hear is the wind across the desert and the sagebrush sweeping the chassis of the car. That they even have a basketball hoop at this abandoned Forest Service Ranger Station at Cabin Lake is awesome. What kind of competitions went down here? Would rangers throw down one-on-one or did they play bump, sending weathered basketballs tumbling through the scrub brush. Whatever they played, I hope they wore their ranger hats.
Gale winds shake the Airstream, splashing water from the kettle warming over the stove. Instinctively, I nudge the waning bottle of whiskey away from the edge of the countertop, avoiding catastrophe. We need what little liquid courage remains in order to make the 100-yard sprint from our weathered Airstream to the hot spring without getting scoured by the wind or flanked by hurtling debris.