Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 08/27/2023

We start with this image of the corner of Bank Rd and Vashon Hwy, which, as you can see, has been blighted by advertisements for local businesses and events. 

The person who posted gets nostalgic and says, “Nearly seven years later and the sandwich boards are worse than ever. Remember this post from October of 2016? What happened to Vashon not wanting to turn into Bainbridge?”

 The poster includes this helpful image, so we can see how far we’ve come. For example, the Saw sign now has a purple border. 

Some people agree that anything besides the smooth blankness of concrete is an aesthetic crime. However, most people don’t care, so the anonymous poster  says “Clearly the newbies don’t have a problem so it’s all good. Carry on then”

To which one person responds, “I was born and raised here 🤷🏻‍♀️

Another islander says, “same 🙂 except I’m only 30 so it doesn’t count I guess 😂

I like how people will completely dismiss your opinion if you haven’t lived here long enough, or aren’t old enough. It’s awfully convenient when you can disregard any opinion that likely won’t align with yours as being irrelevant. 

Other posters call out the anonymous poster: are they truly an islander? Do they know the secret handshake, invented in 1967 and never taught to anyone who moved to the island thereafter? One person asks the poster, “Who was the architect of the old Vashon High school? What is the Gumby connection? When did the second stop sign at Center go in?”

No matter how much of an islander you think you are, there is someone who is more island than you are. I think we should search for the one person who knows the island better than anyone, declare them our leader, and only do what they want. Provided that they are ok with sandwich boards, that is. Because I like sandwich boards. 

Someone else answers the questions: “ Keith Putnam designed the 3 cesspools. Mrs Eggelston…. Gumby. And there was only one 4 way stop until sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s.” I think the last answer is a bit vague. I want an exact timestamp down to the microsecond. 

Also, I had to google the second one, and it turns out the original voice of Gumby was an islander. 

We then have this cryptic comment, ““Four-way Stop in the Name of Love & Squalor.” I don’t know what this means, but it would be a great title for a Young Adult coming of age story set in the 1970s in East Berlin. 

A commenter agrees with our anonymous poster. “Sandwich boards are trash, there is a reason they are banned in a lot of cities. Clog up sidewalks, different sizes, and are left out for weeks and months on end. I don’t know why 7 years later opinions have changed. They’re absolute garbage.”

I like that the signs being different sizes is part of the problem. Imagine an ad for Vashon including this line, “Here on Vashon, we value homogeneity, as you can see by the strict guidelines for sign sizing.”

To the previous comment we have the response, “You’re right…sandwich boards are a sidewalk blight, and need to be dealt with. I propose we add some Vashon class and upgrade to charcuterie boards. Actual charcuterie boards with dainty morsels for pedestrians, attended to and refreshed regularly by a kind person willing to direct people to their desired destination.” 

Now this is a good idea. It would be like the free samples at Costco, only I wouldn’t have to go to Costco, which, if I believed in hell, is what I imagine hell would look like– a giant, windowless room full of plastic-wrapped stuff along endless, unlabeled rows. You are surrounded by the profligacy of modern culture, yet conversely if there’s something you want, you can’t find it. 

One person adds to the idea of charcuterie boards: “like those little library boxes. Take a salami, leave some cheese! Yes!!” Besides the threat of food poisoning, this is a great idea. It would open us up to trying new foods, and local restaurants could advertise by putting a few french fries or a mini ice cream in the box. So long as the foods weren’t labeled, because that would be a bit too sandwich-board-like. 

Someone else posted this helpful sign: 

It’s kind of like those “stop sign ahead” signs.

We later have a post from a local business that no one’s ever heard of because they have no means of advertising. 

Just kidding, it’s the Barbie Dream Hearse, which is super popular and cool, and I applaud whenever I see it drive by. Hands down the best car on the island. Their post reads, “Hello from the only business / location / entity without a stupid sandwich board!”

I have no idea if they’re being serious or facetious. Are they saying this because they want someone to design them a sandwich board? If so, would it be in the shape of a gravestone? 

Another islander asks the important question, “But do you have sandwiches?”

A commenter adds this illuminating history, “I heard they were illegal on Vashon. Years ago, early 90’s there was a big brouhaha about it. Home businesses couldn’t advertise with them at all. I find the onslaught of them disgusting.”

I think it makes even more sense for a home business to have a sandwich board, on account that they don’t have a storefront in town. Unless it’s that Vashon thing where you just have to be in the know about where the business is located and what the secret password is that you whisper through the keyhole to get into a basement where you can buy rusty antiques. 

We have the final word from an island sage: “omg you pearl-clutchers; sandwich boards are the least of Vashon’s problems.”

The commenter is correct; there is another problem plaguing Vashon: anonymous posts. One person posts,  “I’m tired of the anonymous posts. Really wish that option was not there.”

Another adds, “I wish we could comment anonymously……”  When asked why, they said, “so I don’t get my tires slashed?”

Many people seem to agree. One says, “It’s good to know who is spreading ugly. Anonymous seems to encourage ugly and false news.”

Another adds, “I know a bunch of chicken shits that don’t or can’t just own up to what they say. Welcome to VASHON. 2 faced jerks.”

What has anyone said anonymously that was truly offensive? Mostly people complain about slow drivers or the scourge of sandwich boards, or they complain about anonymous posting. It’s rare to see a true anonymous screed. 

One person says, “Be careful expressing your opinion about AnOnYMoUs pOSts. I got thrown in Vashon Rants jail a while back for commenting.”

What is Vashonites Rants jail? I was not aware we had one. Is it a physical location, like, crammed between the sandwich boards on Bank Road, or more of a metaphysical state, in which you are doomed to only read and not respond, forever forced to hold onto your own opinions, which are so toxic  that they need to be spilled forth out of your mouth, much like vomiting up rotten food, and the only way to stop them from poisoning your mind is by diluting them with the opinions of the broader public.

One person imagines a better future: “We need to stop and turn things around. I can only dream about the day I go on FB and everything is positive and kind. Long shot I know. But don’t ya’all think it’s time to stop trying to constantly poke the bear?“

Okay, hear me out. Yes, it would be great if everything were positive and helpful. But also, it would be so boring. Like, do you ever scroll through your feed and it’s like, someone’s birthday, someone’s vacation, new baby, yada yada, and then someone you haven’t talked to in ten years is like, “I just broke off a 6-year relationship because I learned my partner was secretly buying black market alien artifacts and selling them off to hostile governments.” And then you get out the popcorn and you read every last comment. 

Because people love conflict. It’s the basis for every story. We’re drawn to it. I think the reason people don’t like anonymous posting is because one side of the conflict is faceless, and this is, after all, a website called Facebook.

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

2 thoughts on “Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 08/27/2023”

  1. I was going to comment that you have waaaay too much time on your hands to go on & on & on about those sandwich boards…but then you started talking about charcuterie boards…just now got the connection…oh you clever woman you!! lol

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.