Sign makes locals “look like hillbillies”
Photos, story by Shaun Moriarty
Citizen Chronicle Writer
STURBRIDGE — A homemade sign affixed to a utility pole near the Fiskdale portion of town has stirred the passions of some while amusing others.
The white wooden sign was nailed into a utility pole outside the Sturbridge Early Learning Academy, located at 440 Main Street. The sign, which features multiple spelling and grammatical errors, reads: “WELCOM TO FISKDALE NOT STUBRIDGE YOU ALL,” and faces westbound traffic on Route 20. Locals say the sign was posted sometime late last week. There are reports of similar signs placed along Route 20 eastbound coming into town from Brimfield.
Fiskdale is a village within the town of Sturbridge and, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, is home to roughly 28 percent of the municipality’s residents. Fiskdale has its own post office and zip code, but is governed locally by the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator. The area is named after the Fiske brothers — Henry, Josiah, and Lyman — who developed a brick textile mill in that part of town in 1828.
In the Facebook group “Sturbridge MA Community,” multiple threads have developed over the homemade sign. Local reaction has run the gamut, with some viewing the sign’s posting as a harmless prank and others expressing outrage.
Several comments have called for the sign to be taken down, labeling it as “awful,” “disturbing,” “ridiculous,” and “embarrassing.” While some wondered aloud whether the police department would take down the homemade sign, numerous other individuals suggested someone ought to take matters into their own hands and take the sign down. As the Labor Day weekend wore on, at least one local decided to try and do just that.
Lyn Bradley, a Sturbridge resident of 19 years, was so bothered by the sign that she grabbed a hammer and tried to personally take down the sign on Monday morning.
“Obviously we all want it gone, but no one has the gumption to do it. I tried,” she told The Citizen Chronicle in an interview. Bradley said that her effort to remove the sign was in vain because “the nails were tightly nailed in and it required stronger tools and greater muscle” than she has.
Bradley said she first saw the sign in person last week. Her initial reaction? “Unintelligent stupidity making townspeople look like hillbillies,” she said.
Others have taken the sign in stride. In the “Sturbridge MA Community” group page, Jeff Strause channeled the campaign rhetoric of President Donald Trump by quipping: “Build the wall.” Others, such as Jeffrey Choquet, jumped in by suggesting that Fiskdale would pay for the wall, while Jessica O’Toole reconfigured the President’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as “MFGA! Or MSGA … depends on what side of the sign you’re on lol”
In another thread within the “Sturbridge MA Community” page, Tony Koziol referenced another — though less well-known section of town — by teasing, “And don’t get me started about ‘Snellville!’” Later in that same thread, Amy Butler said she and a friend would counteract the sign by picketing it with misspelled signage reading “Fishdale First.”
In yet another “Sturbridge MA Community” thread about the sign, members continued to poke fun at the message. Carly Bean asserted “Fiskdale for life!” while Sean O’Donnell said “Oh, they just think they are so much better because they have the nicer post office.” Kristen Bell summed it up by referring to the local reaction as “The sign wars of 2018.”
Asked by The Citizen Chronicle why someone may have taken the time to gather the material, design the sign, and then head out to affix it to the utility pole, Bradley’s best guess was a provincial action by a resident of the Fiskdale village.
“I think it is someone from Fiskdale not liking the Sturbridge name encroaching the two locales,” she said.
Bradley noted she does not personally feel a distinction between the village and the town as a whole. “I lived in Fiskdale and truly felt part of Sturbridge, nothing else.”
For Carrina Gallagher, the local reaction to the sign is a reminder that there are far greater problems that could be facing the community and its residents. In the “Sturbridge MA Community” page she asserted, “The great thing about all this is, if this is the biggest concern in our town, I’ll take it over murders, robberies and abductions all day.”