• The old GLENVILLE signs rests on its side in mud -- an undignified destination for a symbol of the community for two decades -- or perhaps even longer. While a spiffy new sign across N.C. Highway 107 has replaced it, some fear progress’ inevitable march is making a beloved mountain village a little less of a village. (Photo by Don Richeson.)
    The old GLENVILLE signs rests on its side in mud -- an undignified destination for a symbol of the community for two decades -- or perhaps even longer. While a spiffy new sign across N.C. Highway 107 has replaced it, some fear progress’ inevitable march is making a beloved mountain village a little less of a village. (Photo by Don Richeson.)

Does sign's retirement signal village is becoming less of a village?

Editor's Column
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By Don Richeson / Staff

GLENVILLE -- I sense something amiss as I drive down N.C. Highway 107 from Glenville to Cashiers.

I of course notice the beautiful, impressive new Cashiers sign the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce has erected at Laurel Knob Road. The third of four such planned signs, it adds value to our community in helping cement Cashiers in folks’ minds as being a special destination, not just a nameless area you breeze through driving to somewhere else.

But I wonder, where did the old “LEAVING GLENVILLE COMMUNITY” sign go? Granted, it isn’t that long ago I just passed my one-year anniversary here, but I had come to regard the humble barn red plywood sign with white lettering as an old friend, passing it multiple times every day as I came and went.

And what about all those here who grew up with it? The old sign reflects a simpler era perhaps, when the village was more of a village. I knew at least a few other oddballs like me might miss it.

Old one-time significant signs meeting an undignified fate happens all the time I suppose. I wish there was some sort of formal process in place for respectfully retiring them, like there is for old American flags.

I am still bothered by a memory from, 30 years ago now, of witnessing the demise of an old sign that had been displayed at the office of a small central Florida daily newspaper I once worked for.

New management at the paper had decided to shorten the paper’s name by removing the town name from the paper, so it would seem more regional and -- theoretically -- attract more readers.

So, the old sign with the longer name had to go. It had been on the office for many, many years and had even survived a fire at the office’s previous location when an overnight arsonist torched my hometown paper when I was a still a boy.

The newspaper office burned to the ground, but the paper rose from the ashes at another location -- with the saved sign -- and eventually I went to work there not long after college.

As I was out driving to a news assignment when I worked there, I noticed part of the old sign sticking out of a big steel drum filled with various wood scraps that a Christmas tree sales lot was burning to keep its customers warm after the sign had been discarded by the new managers. Years of history went up in flames to provide a little winter warmth at a Christmas tree lot. Seemed like sort of a sad waste to me.

Old signs can carry a lot of emotional significance.

Moving ahead in time to this month, I had asked the appropriate officials about what happened to the old Glenville sign. I was reminded -- correctly -- that too much signage concentrated in one area is an esthetic concern, so I understand it being removed from that one spot on N.C. 107’s shoulder across from the Eastern Continental Divide sign and not far from the spiffy, new combination Cashiers-Glenville sign.

I further discovered it is now entrusted to the care of Ralph Campbell, president of Glenville Community Development Inc. and pastor of Glenville Wesleyan Church. When I talked to Pastor Ralph later that weekend, he said he wasn’t sure what would happen to the old sign. He didn’t know exactly how old it was or who had created it, but agreed it wouldn’t be surprising to find out the sign is more than 20 years old. He said Glenville seasonal resident Robery Varkony has repainted the sign a number of times over the years. There is also a second identical old sign still in place farther north on N.C. 107 as you enter Glenville from Tuckasegee. It remains there -- for now.

Let’s hope the uprooted old sign finds a new home, even if just as an historic display someplace -- maybe, say, in the Glenville Area Historical Society Historical Museum.

It was dropped off at the Glenville Community Center after its removal this month, where I noticed it remained earlier this week, uprooted and leaning against the center outside awaiting whatever ultimate fate that may come its way.

I hope the old Glenville sign will at least be removed from the mud and placed in a more secure, more dignified location.

Pastor Ralph said he’s open to hearing from folks who may have ideas on what to do with the old sign. His phone number is 828-506-1163 and his email address is cornerstone007@frontier.com.

(Don Richeson is editor of the Crossroads Chronicle and lives in southern Jackson County. Email him at editor@CrossroadsChronicle.com.)

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